Skookum Cider Press: General Cider Guidelines

Guidelines for Sweet Apple Cider Manufacturing and Use of Press and Grinder







Preparing fruit:

    • Grind only sound, healthy fruit. Sort out and remove any fruit that is rotten.
    • Cut apples in half or even better in quarters.
    • Do not use fruit found on the ground without sanitizing.
    • To sanitize, wash fruit and soak apples for 2 min in a solution of water mixed with 1 tbsp of chlorine bleach per 4 litres of water, let air dry. If not sanitizing you still want to wash fruit thoroughly.
    • Large hard pits or seeds must be removed before grinding. Apple seeds, and cores, grape seeds and stems can be ground. Nuts cannot be ground.
    • Remove rotten apples from the batch before washing to reduce amount of yeast and mold.
    • Since many cider apples are windfalls, make sure all dirt is removed.

Preparing the Cider Press

    • Make sure all your equipment is properly cleaned and sanitary before and after you use it.
    • Be sure to bring plenty of buckets for multiple uses, such as collecting the cider, holding your crushed apples to take home and compost, etc
    • The cider press, containers, knives, grinder, cutting boards, work surfaces, pressing bags and so on, should be clean.
    • You can clean your equipment by washing it with warm water and soap or the sanitizing solution (Prior to use, rinse with a solution of one tablespoon bleach per 4 litres water, drain and air dry). Leave it for 2-5 minutes and then hose it down. Do not soak metal parts in this solution for more than 30 seconds or pitting may occur.
    • Rinse all items thoroughly with clean (preferably hot) water.

Press base

A 4ft x 4ft folding plywood base is supplied for use with the press. The base should be laid down flat on the ground with the painted side down, and then the press should be bolted to the base through the holes in all four “feet”. This prevents the press from falling sideways when a lot of pressure is exerted on the drive bar. It’s OK to stand on the base. When cleaning after use, hose down the base thoroughly on both sides to remove waste and dirt, and allow to air dry.

Crusher Base

The crusher is permanently mounted on a wood and metal base which allows the crushed fruit to fall through its center into a bucket or bin. While the base does fold for transport, it should be stored open. After cleaning, occasionally grease the joints where the metal stand folds.


A dolly is supplied to move the crusher+base, or the press, easily over smooth surfaces like internal floors, sidewalks or asphalt. Until we get some better castors, it only turns corners gradually! Do not use it on rough ground: please carry the equipment instead. Hose off any waste or dirt after use, and allow to air dry.


It not clear yet whether a hose will be available for use when the CRC is not open, so please consider bringing your own hose if going after hours.

 Using the Crusher

    • Before each use, be sure the bolt holding the flywheel to the grinder axle (located in the center of the wheel), is tight but not overnight.
    • First and foremost remember safety! A fruit crusher is made to grind and crush so be very sure to keep all body parts well away from the hopper during operation. If your fruit needs help to feed through, use a blunt wooden pusher. Take care to keep the pusher away from the roller teeth or damage may occur, tie long hair and loose clothing before using.
    • Do not let children operate the crusher, mature judgement is required for safe operation.
    • Use only soft fruit, with small seeds and small soft stems. Introduction of pits, stones, nuts, seeds, rinds, or other material may void the warranty.
    • Position a bucket under the grinder, start feeding the mouth of the grinder while turning the handle on the flywheel.
    • Clean-up with a garden hose immediately after use. If fruit pulp is allowed to dry, removal becomes difficult.

Pressing Instructions

    1. Coat the threads of the screw rod with food grade grease or mineral oil before turning it to raise or lower the press plate.
    2. Remove the pin and lift the yoke arm to raise the press plate
    3. Line the basket with a straining bag
    4. Place the fruit basket on the tray, and fill it with crushed fruits, making sure the fruit is contained in the straining bag
    5. Lower the yoke arm, replace the pin to secure it and align the cage under the press plate
    6. Insert the hand rod into the driving unit hole of the ratchet assembly and start lowering the pressing plate by turning the hand rod
    7. Apply as much force as possible during the pressing but take a couple of breaks and release some of the compression before starting again, for example press 3 times during the process and take 2 breaks releasing the pressure a bit twice.
    8. Clean-up with a hose, all parts of the press immediately after use. If fruit pulp is allowed to dry, removal becomes difficult.
    9. Dry the fruit press parts and re-coat the threads of the screw rod with food grade grease or mineral oil.

*Note: The directional pin on the ratchet assembly has an angled end. Depending on which way the pin is turned, the screw will be turned clockwise or counter-clockwise as the handle is moved back and forth.

Cleaning Instructions

    1. Hose off the obvious residue immediately (do not let it dry), then brush a solution of chlorine and water (1 tbsp per 4 L of water) or other preferred sanitizer (see #3 under “Guidelines) over the press and all component parts. Leave it for 30 seconds and then hose it down thoroughly. Thoroughly dry all components with a clean towel or cloth. Do not use soaps!
    2. Hose off the pressing bags or rinse them in a tub of water, then immerse them in a second tub of chlorine and water solution and let them soak 2-5 minutes. Remove. Hose them down again and let them air dry. If you are pressing at our location, it is recommended you wash and prepare your apples before the pressing and you must be sure to clean the premises, and take any apple residue with you!
    3. Re-oil the pressing screw by coating the threads of the screw rod with food grade grease. There is some grease provided with rental of the press, and you can also use coconut oil.

Preserving Your Cider

    • Preserving Cider can be done by refrigerating, freezing, chemicals, pasteurization or canning.
    • Refrigeration from 0°C to 2°C will hold cider without preservative for 1 to 2 weeks without danger of
    • Freezing is the best method of preserving the fresh flavour of cider; it retains its quality for at least 1 year. Fill the container to 90% of its capacity to allow for
    • Chemical Preservatives. The two most commonly used are Potassium Sorbate, a newer, tasteless chemical, and Benzoate of Soda, the more common one, which may leave a somewhat burning aftertaste. Neither kills yeasts or molds; they only stop them from multiplying. Either can be added to cider up to a max of 1000 ppm. The lower the yeast and mold levels in your cider the less preservative you need.
    • Pasteurization is necessary to help reduce the possibility of E. coli food-borne illness. To pasteurize the cider, heat it to at least 160-185 degrees Fahrenheit or 71 to 85 degrees Celsius. Skim off the foam. Pour the hot cider into heated, clean and sanitized glass or plastic containers. For cold cider refrigerate immediately. The apple cider can also be frozen or canned. Better yet, pour the hot cider into a mug and stir with a cinnamon stick, and enjoy! Nothing is sweeter that a mug of hot cider to take the chill off of a fall day. For Water Bath Canning: Pour the pasteurized cider into hot, clean and sanitized glass containers, fill jars and place lids on, place into a hot boiling water bath canner. Leave a  1/4 inch headspace. Process Time: 5 minutes for pints and litres, 10 minutes for 2 litres jars (adjust for altitude). Turn off heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars. Once the jars are cool, check the seals and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator.  Sealed jars will keep at room temperature for 12 to 18 months.  After that, that quality begins to degrade and the juice will lose flavour.

Other points to consider:

    • Reduce potential contamination of the cider by making sure your hands, clothes and boots are clean when you’re processing the
    • Use only clean, potable water during all steps of production and
    • Create a less friendly environment for yeasts by pre-cooling the apples before pressing and chilling the cider as quickly as possible. As well, cooled apples produce more juice than warm
    • Dispose of the apple pomace (crud) as soon as possible because it will attract flies, wasps – and fruit flies by the millions.

Download the three-page ‘Skookum Cider Press Rules’ (including the needed waiver) as a  printable Adobe Acrobat file SFPC_Cider_press.docx.

And please take a moment to review some basic safety tips:

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