Hydropresses are almost always used in industrial cider making. However there are now a number of hydropresses for small scale cidermakers which is an exciting change in the market.
What is a hydropress?
Well simply put, it is a press that uses pressurised water instead of a pressing plate.
In a modern hydropress the apple pommace is shoveled into a large vertical steel tube with lots of holes on the outside. Down the centre of the tube is a thin rod and around this is an empty waterproof bladder. Water is injected into the bladder at up to 3 bar pressure, squeezing the pommace against the inside of the steel tube. The juice flows through the holes and down the outside of the tube.
Benefits of a hydropress
There are a number of small benefits such as weight of the equipment being low, but the really big advantage is speed. You can go from 90 litres of pommace to 50 litres of juice in less than a couple of minutes at the flick of a switch.
For small scale cider producers who want results fast, this can be a massive benefit.
A quick hose down and you can be ready for the next pressing in just a few minutes more.
Downsides of a hydropress
My one complaint is that the gap between the side of the tube and bladder in narrower than optimum for quick filling, but a simple DIY hopper on the top will make filling a breeze.
A new hydropress costs about twice what an old fashioned press will cost but the prices have been dropping very quickly due to their popularity.