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This weekend in sunny Kent, England, it’s an epic battle of traditional cider pressing versus modern juicing machines. Muscle versus motor. “Slow food” versus labor-saving device. Who’ll make the most cider? The best cider? Only one way to find out.

Last fall Make: published Nevin Stewart’s “Kitchen-Table Cider Making,” a novel approach to making gallons of apple juice or hard cider with modern centrifugal juicers — much tidier and more compact than that ancient apple-squashing machine, the cider press.

Now Nevin has teamed up with a maker of traditional apple presses, Peter Eveleigh, to pit these two methods head-to-head in a test trial at this weekend’s Brogdale Cider Festival, August 23-24, in the hamlet of Brogdale.

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Peter and his co-worker will operate an electric mill to pulp the unsuspecting apples, and two of his custom manual presses to crush the living juice out of them: a 32-liter barrel press and a 50-liter rack and cloth press. The machines are beautiful to behold. “His presses have been likened to works of art,” admits Nevin, “and one would grace any grand country drawing room by its presence.”

“At approximately half the capital outlay,” says Nevin, he and a friend will operate two high-performance whole-fruit juicers to puree the helpless pippins, and then strain out the solid bits.

Each team gets 100 kilos of washed apples and 1 hour in which to do their damage. Yield of juice produced in a given time, and other key measures, will be recorded and reported. We’ll report on the results as they become available.

The Battle of Brogdale. Juice-and-strain, or pulp-and-press? May the best team, and method, win.

Keith Hammond

I’m projects editor of MAKE magazine.

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