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Scratter Vs wood chipper

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This is sort of wood related: on my list of very important jobs, somewhere near the top, has been the manufacture of a scratter (apple annihilator/pulper, for those who don't make cider). Up until now, I have used a small, Italian wood chipper to do the job, but it is not at all appropriate. Firstly, metal should never go near apple juice if you can possibly avoid it, as it can discolour the cider, by taking up iron. Possibly healthy, but gives the cider a greyish hue, apparently. This has not been a problem so far, but there is a lot of metal in a wood chipper. The chipper is also slow, noisy, leaks pulp (and juice!!), and not at all designed for the job.

Secondly, all the internet people seem to say that turning your apples in to baby-food consistency is bad - you should have small chunks of recognisable apple, not purée. You get more juice from the former, apparently.

So, this year I borrowed from a friend what is a close approximation to a scratter: the internal workings look like this:

It did a beautiful job of cutting the apples - the hopper takes an entire crate, unlike the chipper, where you feed the apples in one by one, and the result was perfect little chunks, just as the books all say you should have. The problem was - no juice! Here is a picture of the difference in post- pressed pulp. Red crate shiny new toy, blue crate
chipper.
IMG_20191018_124405.jpg


It was the same weight initially in both cases, but you can still see the bits of apple in one, whereas the other has just dry, fibrous mat - as it should be. The difference in efficiency is quite a suprise, too. I put 4 crates of apples = 80kg (or a bit less) into the press, and expect to get around 45 litres of juice, so around 55% juice. Not brilliant, but not too bad, as I only have a 1.5ton bottle jack, of dubious efficiency, doing the work. However, when using the shiny, expensive new electric scratter, 45 litres was down to about 20, so around half the juice was left in the pulp. Not good.

Here is a gratuitous photo of the press all loaded up and ready to go. NB this is the first of the day, so everything is clean and tidy - after 2 days, we are all looking a bit more disheveled and sticky.
IMG_20191018_102124.jpg


And here is a photo of a freeloader who turned up to eat some apple pulp dropped on the ground. He is trying to make a surreptitious escape, as you can see.
IMG_20191019_150535.jpg


So, the reason for this post: has anyone made/used a scratter with good results? I will keep using the chipper even though I hate it, if it gives more juice. The romance of having a nice, wooden scratter to go with the wooden press is less important than having cider - 2 full days of effort for 600 litres is enough; if I only get 300 litres, then it's going to be disappointing, although the pigs will be happier, as they get better quality pulp.
 

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Rorschach

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I suspect you need more force if you are using the larger chunks. Can you use a bigger jack?
 

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Rorschach":2nbt2vs9 said:
I suspect you need more force if you are using the larger chunks. Can you use a bigger jack?
I could, but would the press take it? Allegedly you gain an extra 5% for every ton added - in other words, a 3 ton jack might get me over 60%, but would it go bang rather catastrophically? As it is, I get the top beam noticeably deformed at the end of the pressing - it's 70x140mm if I remember rightly.

More importantly, do I need to? The scratter is "supposed" to do a better job than the chipper, so more juice available for the same force. I admit that the thing I used is actually to crush grapes for pressing - a completely different task, but it did cut the apples up well, in the same way that a scratter would, so far as I can tell via YouTube, although I have never used a real one myself. I have also seen the same device advertised for making cider, but that doesn't mean anything - what people sell is what they can buy in, not necessarily what is right for the job.

Thanks for your thoughts though - are you a cider maker, too?
 

Mrs C

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We use a cheap garden shredder that is all plastic except for the blades. It all comes apart so you can get the hose pipe on it afterwards. It’s reasonably quick to feed.

I normally do about 100l of apple juice which we bottle and pasteurise, but didn’t get any apples to speak of this year.
 

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I once worked for Taunton Cider, in their juice make department.
Every november / december the main car park was emptied of vehicles and the apples were dumped there by the lorry load. Picture a 100 space car park, 12 foot high with apples (I have a few pictures somewhere). From there they were washed into large drains by a water cannon (2 am, mid winter, with a 2" water cannon, ask me again why I now live in a sunny climate 8), and they flowed under the road and into the factory. A conveyor lifted them from the water well into a hopper, which fed what can only be described as an enormous food processer with curved blades which sliced them into chunky baby food.
They were then fed into 2 enormous presses the size of a 10,000 litre petrol tanker drum. Many, many tons of pressure squeezed the juice out. The remains were conveyed out to large high sided lorry trailers and taken away for animal feed.
When the remains came out, it was completely dry (you could squeeze a handful and your hand did not show the slightest sign of moisture) and looked like small brown pellets.

We worked 12 hours on and 12 hours off for over two months with a 6 hour shift on sunday so it was nights one week and days the next week. A lorra lorra apples!

The moral of the story is you need pressure, lots and lots of pressure. rebuild the frame, and use 2 or even three jacks.
 

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There are a couple of people running mobile presses in Herefordshire who use a machine that is basically a stainless steel garden shredder and the pulp looks much like yours.
I would have thought that the more you break up the fruit the more juice can be released.
The only wooden hand scratters I've seen have gaps in the rollers with prongs sticking out, presumably so they can break up whole apples.
Probably no help at all, sorry.
Tris
 

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I made my own scratter a few years ago and it has been remarkably successful although I can't put numbers against its efficiency. At the time I was looking around eBay for a scratter although I didn't know that's what you call them. I came across a guy selling a home made one. That made me realise that I had most of the ingredients in my junk box to make my own.
Basically it consists of a 6" dia oak cylinder with lots of brass countersunk screws protruding out of it. The screw heads do the chopping. The cylinder runs on a Picador shaft driven by a motor, pullies and belt. An aluminium sheet hopper feeds the apples on to the cylinder. All the pulp is collected in an old Sainsbury's shopping box.
Mine is a small affair but I have seen huge ones driven by diesel.
I won't be using it this year as our crop is poor and it's not worth the effort.
Brian
 

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Yojevol":26s2nmw4 said:
I made my own scratter a few years ago and it has been remarkably successful although I can't put numbers against its efficiency. At the time I was looking around eBay for a scratter although I didn't know that's what you call them. I came across a guy selling a home made one. That made me realise that I had most of the ingredients in my junk box to make my own.
Basically it consists of a 6" dia oak cylinder with lots of brass countersunk screws protruding out of it. The screw heads do the chopping. The cylinder runs on a Picador shaft driven by a motor, pullies and belt. An aluminium sheet hopper feeds the apples on to the cylinder. All the pulp is collected in an old Sainsbury's shopping box.
Mine is a small affair but I have seen huge ones driven by diesel.
I won't be using it this year as our crop is poor and it's not worth the effort.
Brian
That is exactly what I had in mind - wooden cylinder with stainless steel screws to shred the apples. SunnyBob has just been nominated as resident cider expert, so we are looking for "chunky baby food", which is what my chipper manages(less chunky, more baby, but good enough). However, it's a lot of fuss - I would prefer to tip a crate of apples into a hopper and come back when it is done, rather than feeding 1200 kilos of apples through the mouth of the chipper, one at a time. Perhaps I need to think about Bob's giant blender, which is what my chipper is, in effect.

At least my mind has been put to rest regarding not pulping the apples too much. If Taunton cider can do it, then so can I. Does your machine also make a wet, sloppy purée, or chunky lumps? (Is it just me, or does this all sound overly medical? Or is it the unfortunate morning after the cider the night before?)
 

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sunnybob":nnfcldp6 said:
I once worked for Taunton Cider, in their juice make department.
Every november / december the main car park was emptied of vehicles and the apples were dumped there by the lorry load. Picture a 100 space car park, 12 foot high with apples (I have a few pictures somewhere). From there they were washed into large drains by a water cannon (2 am, mid winter, with a 2" water cannon, ask me again why I now live in a sunny climate 8), and they flowed under the road and into the factory. A conveyor lifted them from the water well into a hopper, which fed what can only be described as an enormous food processer with curved blades which sliced them into chunky baby food.
They were then fed into 2 enormous presses the size of a 10,000 litre petrol tanker drum. Many, many tons of pressure squeezed the juice out. The remains were conveyed out to large high sided lorry trailers and taken away for animal feed.
When the remains came out, it was completely dry (you could squeeze a handful and your hand did not show the slightest sign of moisture) and looked like small brown pellets.

We worked 12 hours on and 12 hours off for over two months with a 6 hour shift on sunday so it was nights one week and days the next week. A lorra lorra apples!

The moral of the story is you need pressure, lots and lots of pressure. rebuild the frame, and use 2 or even three jacks.
My jack is cream crackered, so I need a new one anyway. Time for an upgrade to 3 tons (or maybe 5), but it will need a long lift - there is a thing known as a tractor jack that might do the job. I can regulate the pressure by the sound of the creaking and popping - what could possibly go wrong?

I have a Devon friend who has a traditional oak beam press - you need a crane to move it, and it presses 300 litres at a time. Puts my little toy to shame, but I don't really need that much pressure. Probably. Can't find a photo of it, but it looks something like this:


Not a bad weekend woodworking project :) (hammer)
 

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I use a sausage maker. it does a great job but I guess it's a bit slower than you want (you have to cut the fruit in bits to get it in the machine). I only have 1 tree so I don't make a lot.
 

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novocaine":70q0ps34 said:
I use a sausage maker. it does a great job but I guess it's a bit slower than you want (you have to cut the fruit in bits to get it in the machine). I only have 1 tree so I don't make a lot.
1200 kilos of apples. 60 crates, pehaps 100 apples per crate? That's a lot of chopping.

What is fun is hearing all the different solutions - most people don't seem to make as much cider as I do, and I'm wondering if this says anything about my cider dependency issues. I could give it up whenever I want.

Probably.
 

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Admittedly I was at the extreme end of bulk production :shock: , but there are hundreds of old cider presses throughout devon and somerset (Dont mention hereford! :roll: ) and they are all screw jack from the top with large cast iron wheels.
you load the press, turn it till your arms hurt, come back later and turn it some more, and again and again, and then you rig up the shire horse for the last turn.

I must admit, that after working in Taunton cider for juice make, i vowed never to drink cider again. I saw all the dead animals and other things swept out of the orchard into the trailers that went in the factory with the apples, one particular day, a 40 ton tipper lorry burst his lift ram seal and we had a couple gallons of green hydraulic fluid all over the place. it all adds to flavour. =D> =D> .
 

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sunnybob":34mp625b said:
Admittedly I was at the extreme end of bulk production :shock: , but there are hundreds of old cider presses throughout devon and somerset (Dont mention hereford! :roll: ) and they are all screw jack from the top with large cast iron wheels.
you load the press, turn it till your arms hurt, come back later and turn it some more, and again and again, and then you rig up the shire horse for the last turn.

I must admit, that after working in Taunton cider for juice make, i vowed never to drink cider again. I saw all the dead animals and other things swept out of the orchard into the trailers that went in the factory with the apples, one particular day, a 40 ton tipper lorry burst his lift ram seal and we had a couple gallons of green hydraulic fluid all over the place. it all adds to flavour. =D> =D> .
That'll be scrumpy then - proper job. Historically, nails, rats and other interesting flavour enhancers were added. It was also fermented in open casks, so it was turning to vinegar as fast as it turned to alcohol. Drink for REAL men. Mine is much more pedestrian.
 

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My father's approach was a little different but he liked his cider with a little kick to it. :wink: He put the apples and anything else ripe, like plums, into a large plastic trash can and pulverized them with the end of a bat like masher that he made from a small tree. They were left to ferment for a few days or maybe a week and that was drained off with the pulp pressed through a home made screw press. The stallion got the pulp. :wink: He would make about 40 to 60 gallons and would have it all enjoyed by Christmas :ho2 . That was the only drinking he did. I didn't care for it preferring to eat the apples. Maybe an inline engine crankshaft working a row of pounders in a trough with a conveyer belt would do the trick. (hammer) (hammer) (hammer) (hammer) You are a woodworker so none of us would blame you for modifying your dusty to chew up apples either. :roll:

Pete
 

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Fascinating insights into scrumpy!

Before joining the forum I'd never heard of a scratter but I remember that the much missed Richard T made one, with his usual inventive approach.

He described it in these words:

"Coo! I've been making cider for a few years now and contrary to all advice, my scratter has not a wiff of stainless steel anywhere. It's mostly a 1960s Atco mower taken apart and put back together on a wooden frame. The engine drives the drum (former mower drum/roller) that I clad with oak strips and angle iron strips with square teeth filed in.
Sounds like a nightmare I know but it's works as well as a 1930s tractor driven one I saw working in Sommerset (no stainless there either.) Nevertheless, it's loud; and I was thinking of making a wizzo electric one for this season and would be very interested to know what your plans are. "

There's a bit more in this thread from 9 years ago and a few photos, unfortunately messed up by photobucket.

apple-press-and-scratter-was-drilling-stainless-steel-t43110.html
 

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AndyT":1e47u610 said:
Fascinating insights into scrumpy!

Before joining the forum I'd never heard of a scratter but I remember that the much missed Richard T made one, with his usual inventive approach.

He described it in these words:

"Coo! I've been making cider for a few years now and contrary to all advice, my scratter has not a wiff of stainless steel anywhere. It's mostly a 1960s Atco mower taken apart and put back together on a wooden frame. The engine drives the drum (former mower drum/roller) that I clad with oak strips and angle iron strips with square teeth filed in.
Sounds like a nightmare I know but it's works as well as a 1930s tractor driven one I saw working in Sommerset (no stainless there either.) Nevertheless, it's loud; and I was thinking of making a wizzo electric one for this season and would be very interested to know what your plans are. "

There's a bit more in this thread from 9 years ago and a few photos, unfortunately messed up by photobucket.

apple-press-and-scratter-was-drilling-stainless-steel-t43110.html
Brilliant! Thank you. I'm starting to think that a giant blender is the way forward. Much (hammer) (hammer) (hammer)

Will peruse your link with interest (this forum is great!)
 

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Ah yes! I remember the corrugated rainwater vats that the local farmer made cider in. About five feet across & four feet high with random planks across the top which allowed the rats enough room to fall in when they attempted to get a drink.
I wasn't allowed any as I wasn't old enough but I did enjoy a hunk of bread & cheese with a raw onion cut with an unwashed pocket knife, that afterwards I was told, had been used the day before to castrate a boar.
 

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Robbo3":3nwec330 said:
Ah yes! I remember the corrugated rainwater vats that the local farmer made cider in. About five feet across & four feet high with random planks across the top which allowed the rats enough room to fall in when they attempted to get a drink.
I wasn't allowed any as I wasn't old enough but I did enjoy a hunk of bread & cheese with a raw onion cut with an unwashed pocket knife, that afterwards I was told, had been used the day before to castrate a boar.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

I have a similar pocket knife - you don't want to think too hard about where it was yesterday, when you are using it today.
 

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and people wonder why we had shorter life spans back then. :roll: =D>
 

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a time before rose tinted specs. because none of you lot would have lived long enough to use em. :D

I was thinking about this last night (sort of), I wondered if hardwood would be man enough to make shredder. this sort of thing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohLYdtIULEU

then I thought
chomp chomp chomp and went to bed. :D
 
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