How to Build a Homemade Fruit Press

How to build a homemade fruit press from scratch, includes materials list and step-by-step instructions.

| October/November 1996

Build a homemade fruit press and make yourself some pocket money with one of the most beautiful and versatile tools you ever made. (See fruit press photos and diagrams by clicking through the images at the top of this page.)

How to Build a Homemade Fruit Press

Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of the crisp, sunny fall weekends we all spent out at the family homeplace when my farming great-uncle We'd "fahr up the cider press," as he put it. My cousins and I would drink as much fresh foaming cider as we could while taking turns cranking the crusher wheel.

So, when I bought my first farmstead back in the late sixties, one of the first tools of old-time country living I went looking for was a fruit-juice/wine/cider press. I envisioned the dirt-floored cold-storage cellar filled with bottles of wine made from pear juice mixed with the wild fox grapes that grow rampant in our woods and jugs of half-hard cider from the old apple and cherry trees growing up on the hill. The first trees I planted were cold-tolerant peaches, and I looked forward to pressing out peach nectar as well.

I learned quickly that it was a rare year that plentiful rain (for plump fruit) during the ripening season, and breezy, dry air (that discourages molds) combined to produce great festoons of plump, sweet wild grapes . . . and when it did, the fruit developed so high in the trees it was inaccessible to anyone but the birds. Most years, grape clusters were small, most fruit was mold-shriveled to mummies and the surviving grapes were small, hard and sour. In any year and any weather, the overgrown apple and pear trees produced fruit that was scarce, gnarly and worm-eaten.

With the enthusiasm borne of new—won freedom from the urban rat race, I pulled down grape vines growing in trees all around our pastures and propped them up at the sunny field edges on arbors improvised from saplings. I attacked the ancient fruit trees, savagely pruning out deadwood and overgrowth, scraping off thick, flaky bug-harboring bark and cleaning up and incinerating years' accumulation of pest-hiding trash. With judicious use of organic insecticides and antifungus sprays, I had some good apples the next year, and enough to juice by year three.

I'd found a press for sale in the (now defunct) big Sears catalog. A half-bushel-sized cylinder of wood slats held together with a pair of steel hoops sat on a hardwood drain board between a pair of wood posts supporting a horizontal cast-iron top brace that hosted a 1/2 inch-diameter vertical worm screw with a hand-crank on top. Turning the crank moved the screw downward to put pressure on a cast-iron foot screwed to a round wood traveler inside the hopper.

7/3/2015 2:35:52 PM

Can anyone point me to a source for the acme screw and nut assembly. It is the steel part that drives the traveler down into the fruit. Thanks.

12/31/2007 11:20:50 AM

I am looking for a juice press. The Norwalk sounds great, but it is very expensive. What would be my best alternative. I have a Champion juicer.

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