Thursday, December 25, 2008

Whizbang Cider
Pressing Fabric

 Whizbang cider pressing fabric being used to make a cloth-wrapped bag of mash for rack-and-cloth pressing in the Whizbang cider press

As I explain in This Essay I'm a firm believer that rack-and-cloth cider pressing is far superior to other cider pressing methods. That is, I suppose, why most all commercial cider operations use a rack-and-cloth system.

But, for some odd reason, my Whizbang cider press is the only home-scale press on the market that promotes the rack-and-cloth approach. I believe this will change in time as other cider press manufacturers are faced with the reality of their inefficient presses (inefficient when compared to the Whizbang).

All the other home press makers recommend a pressing bag when squeezing cider. But you don't need one of those  pressing bags for rack-and-cloth Whizbang cider pressing. You need simple squares of a strong fabric. 

Some sheer-curtain fabrics will do the job. Such material is often available in fabric stores for not much money. But many people have told me it isn't easy to find sheer-curtain material that is strong enough for pressing.

That being the case, I figured it would be a good idea to start selling top-quality, professional cider-pressing fabric— fabric that is specifically designed for the work of pressing cider. Fabric that you can depend on.

It was not easy but I eventually found a supplier and I am now offering the fabric in 30" by 30" squares, which is what you see in the picture at the top of this page. Here is a closer look at the fabric:

 If you have seen the cider pressing bags that other cider press makers sell, you are familiar with this kind of fabric. Technically, it is a woven polyester. 

I sent a pressing bag from Lehman's Hardware in Ohio to the textile factory where we now get this material. They analyzed it and presented me with several similar options. I settled on a fabric that is rated as stronger than what Lehman's uses to make their pressing bags.

This fabric is used in industry. It is made to last. And it also meets FDA requirements for food processing applications.

During my long and difficult search for a pressing fabric supplier, I found a commercial cider equipment company that sells 30" by 30" squares of fruit pressing fabric for $15 each, plus shipping! Wow—that's a LOT of money. 

But I'm selling the same size squares for a LOT LESS than that. My Whizbang fabric squares will cost you as little as $5.00 each (depending on how many you buy—an online ordering button is below), and my price includes the cost of shipping.

The only difference between those $15 squares and mine is that my squares are not hemmed, as you can see in the picture above. To test the unhemmed material, my wife put several squares through 6 washer cycles (along with other wash she had to do). Unraveling was very minimal. It was so little that I don't forsee it as any problem at all.

I did a small pressing early in the season to test the fabric before offering it here. I really don't think I needed to test commercial quality fabric, but I wanted to anyway. That's when I took the picture at the top of this page. That picture shows the 30" by 30" square spread over a plastic-pail-bottom mash form (which I tell you about at This Essay) and then filled with apple mash from the amazing Whizbang apple grinder. Here's a picture of the fabric corners brought together before tying with string. 

30" by 30" fabric is just right for the form size I tell you how to make (this information is also in the Whizbang Cider plan book).

Here is a  picture of the bag formed when a string is used to tie the edges together:

Here is a closer look at how the bag is tied with a piece of cotton string (a 16" to 20" length will do nicely).

Then, of course, you place the bag onto the bottom of the pressing pan, lay a round pressing disc (a.k.a., pressing rack) on top, followed by another bag of mash, and another rack, and so on  until the stack (traditionally referred to as a "cheese") is assembled . This is all shown and explained in more detail in the essay I've already given you a link to (but here is The Link again if you need it). 

This next picture shows the same bag of mash pictured above after pressing. It has been flattened considerably and a lot of juice was squeezed out. I'm untying the string.

The fabric did a fine job of holding in the mash but letting out the juice. This next picture shows the pomace that remained. It had a moist-dry texture to it. Clearly, Rack-and-cloth pressing presses faster and extracts more juice for a given amount of mash than does any other cider pressing technique.

I rinsed the pressing fabric off in a bucket of water and it cleaned up much easier than some other pressing fabrics I've used (in the form of pressing bags). 

I also hung some of the fabric on the clothes line and found it sprayed clean with the hose quite easily.

I sell the 30" by 30" pressing fabric in sets of five squares. Five is how many bags of mash you can press with four pressing discs (racks) and a pressure plate, as I sell and recommend in my plan book.

If you are planning to make a lot of cider and will have lots of help, I suggest you get more than five squares of fabric. That way, you can be pressing a cheese while your help is making bags for the next pressing. They can be made and stored in a plastic pail until you're ready to press them. 

Availability: Temporarily out of stock. More due in the end of May 2015
Shipping: US Postal Service First Class shipping is included in the following prices: