This is the Velojuicer, a lightweight, mobile, all-in-one machine that mills, presses, and juices apples using only human power and a bit of good humour.
In 2019, in my role working for UK charity The Orchard Project, I wanted a better way to make the most of the apple surplus. I teamed up with designer and engineer Uula Jero to build an industrial quality machine that can process a mature orchard’s apple glut solely by human power – making it possible for community orchard groups to produce enough fruit juice for all of their orchard carers and volunteers, even to the level of storing juice over the winter, or making cider. Most hand-operated apple presses are suitable for demonstrating the principle of pressing, and are great fun to use, but quickly become tiring when trying to process large amounts – and most large scale scratters and presses are not suitable for carting out into the middle of an orchard for apple day, usually requireing electricity, mains water, etc, or are really heavy.
With so many community orchards being planted, we are soon going to have a lot of surplus apples, especially on bumper crop years like 2018 and 2019 in Scotland. And juicing is a good way of preserving and being able to make use of that harvest – especially when the increasingly wild storms of climate change are likely to knock all the apples and pears off in one go.
What we set out to create is no ordinary piece of equipment. We wanted something that would stand out from the crowd. We have previously developed pedal powered contraptions that have run at many events across Scotland and beyond and what we have seen is that people are captivated and inspired by human powered mechanical processing, particularly of foodstuffs. There is a delight in being able to use the power of your body to instantly transform grain into flour, or fruits into smoothies that gives people a new insight into questions of where food comes from, how it is produced and how we as a society are generally pretty removed from our food system.
The machine is built out of:
- For the Scratter: a Vigo Presses electric scratter unit, with motor removed, drive shaft, gearbox and pedals built in and custom static bike frame welded. (all built expertly by Uula).
- The press is a 20l Speidel Hydropress and the pump was custom made by Uula using stainless pipe, leather diaphragm and one-way valves. It can pressurise up to at least 6bar
We hope to be able to develop this machine further so that it is available for use by community groups.
- The equipment will be designed around Hydraulic Press for maximum juice yield/equipment weight and a scratter that can supply pressing at a suitable rate for the press. It is proposed that this is a Vigo stainless steel electric scratter converted to run on pedal power, as this will negate the need to chop the fruit prior to scratting (as is required with the hand scratter).
- The equipment will be easily transportable by bike or van. It is proposed that scratter and press are mounted on a trailer and this is mounted with press-fit removable wheelchair wheels allowing the trailers to be quickly converted to stable platforms sitting on the ground.
- The trailers will make reasonable provision for the transport and use of associated paraphernalia of pressing, including containers for washing and water transport, bottling equipment, etc.
- The equipment must be a stable working platform such that it doesn’t wobble when effort is applied (pedal power, working the press).
- There needs to be provision for people of all sizes (from age 5 up) to be able to have a go at operating the scratter pedals or press arm), working at an ergonomic height where possible.
- The scratter needs to be able to be operated effectively by human power.
- It is ideal for the pedal operator to be able to face the work.
Dimensions & weights
- The equipment will be compact and light enough to be able to be pulled by bicycle(s) and fit into a medium transit van.
Health and safety requirements
- The equipment must be stable enough not to tip over during use, while being pulled by bike, or any conversion or adjustment between these modes.
- Equipment will be designed to minimise risk of accidental injury.
- Any materials that come into contact with foodstuffs must be food-grade.
- Cleaning must be easily done at the end of the day.
Materials & construction
- Materials must be durable enough to withstand corrosion by acid fruit juice and outdoor use.
- Construction and materials must be durable enough to withstand the use and abuse of a community apple pressing (e.g. parts not working loose during the day).
A huge thank you to Vigo Presses who generously supported this project by donating electric scratter parts worth £500.