DIY Cider press

Have a bunch of apples and want to make cider? Don’t want to spend a lot of money on “real” cider making equipment?

I was in the same boat, and after tinkering around for a while, the process below is what I came up with for my cheap, DIY apple cider press solution.

Ripe apples on tree
Free apples in an abandoned lot

Here’s a list of materials/tools needed:

3 x 5 gallon buckets: … You can get buckets way cheaper at Lowes/Home Depot/Menards, but these are food grade if you’re interested

5 gallon bucket lid x 1: … cheaper at hardware stores

Bottle Jack: … I purchased mine from Harbor Freight with a coupon for about $6 less than this one, but this should work.

Mesh laundry bag:

2×4 lumber: cheapest you can get without warping: You’ll use this to make your box frame ~17 inches x 20 inches (interior dimensions)

Scrap wood piece(s): make sure they fit within the diameter of the bucket. You use this to build up the platform for the bottle jack.

Paint Roller Tray (aluminum): … you can get these way cheaper at the hardware stores

Paint stirrer drill attachement: … you can these way cheaper at the hardware stores

Hammer Drill: … wait for a coupon and get it from Harbor Freight, or just use a regular drill if you have one.

(The links to products in the product list are Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase those, I make a small commission, but I’ve also included usually cheaper options in the commentary callouts)

Steps to making cider

(if you’re more a visual learner these steps may be hard to follow. Skip to the end for a video of the entire process!)

  1. Drill ~1″ hole through the center of 5 gallon bucket LID.
  2. Drill about 15 ~3/8″ holes around the circumference of ONE of the 5 gallon buckets. Make sure you drill straight through the side, and avoid drilling through bottom of the bucket. Bucket with holes around bottom
  3. Drill 3-5 ~3/8″ holes into the well portion of the paint roller tray. Paint tray with holes in well
  4. Build ~17″x20″ frame with the piece of 2×4. The size doesn’t need to be precise, it simply needs to at least a few inches taller than the 5 gallon bucket when it sits in the frame. Frame for pressing cider
  5. Now we’re going to set up the grinding bucket. Load apples into a bucket (with no holes), insert the paint stirrer through the lid with a hole, and then the paint stirrer into the drill chuck. It should look like a drill stirrer with a shield.
  6. Insert the paint stirrer into the bucket of apples, close the lid down over the bucket and start grinding the apples by running the drill. This is the most time consuming part of the process. This will probably take 5-10 minutes of pulsing the apples to get them into a chunky mush, and even then you’ll have some big bits of apple in there. The more patient you can be here, the more cider you will yield.
  7. Place the mesh laundry bag, open side up in the bucket with holes at the bottom. (basically like you’re putting a garbage bag into a trash bin.)
  8. Pour the ground apples into the mesh bag.
  9. Place the bucket with apples on top of the paint roller tray, so the part with the holes sticks out past the bottom of the bucket, and then place this whole contraption into the wooden frame, so that the bucket is sitting over the frame.
  10. Now you’ll need to put this whole frame onto a chair that is taller than another intact bucket that you’ll be placing on the ground. Place the holes in the paint tray over top the opening of the bucket on the group. This allows for the freshly pressed cider to drop into the bucket for collection. whole press set up
  11. Close the mesh bag (with the drawstring if there is one), and then place scrap wood on top of the mesh bag.
  12. On top of the scrap wood, place the bottle jack, so the base is squarely on the scrap wood, and the press side point is directly under the top of the frame. (When you pump the jack, the press should press up on the top of the frame, which in turn will push down on the apples below — creating your cider.)
  13. Pump the bottle jack to press out the cider.
  14. Once the flow of cider slows to a trickle, pull out the jack, shake up the bag of now compressed apples, and restart the process to repress the remaining cider out.
  15. Enjoy the cider, and compost the scrap apples (or feed them to your chickens like we did, if you have them).

Video of the cider press build

Looking for other cool DIY projects. Check out how to make your own security camera with a raspberry pi.