My Apple Grinder

October 4, 2010

Back in May, I came up with a plan for crushing apples. I didn’t want to rent one due to availability issues, and I didn’t want a manual grinder because of how labor intensive it would be. I was actually all set to use a garbage disposal mounted on a frame, but then my friend Dave at Old Time Cider posted about grinders. Well, that changed my thinking a bit.

As it happened, the Harbor Freight Tools Garden 2.5 Horse Power Chipper Shredder was on sale for $130, so I decided to take a gamble on it and made the purchase.

I found out right away that I had to remove the top blue section of the chipper, as it was a shield that would be great for sticks, but was horrible for feeding in apples with its smelly rubber flap. In fact, few of the apples actually went though the chipper as is, so I had to cut them all in half, which added to my processing time. As a result of having to chop up the apples, I could line up the cut apples and push them with my BBQ turner should they not line up, yet another reason to remove the top blue guard. I wasn’t really in any danger, but occasionally it would spit apple pieces, so I recommend wearing safety goggles when operating. It was amazingly quiet. It did alright chopping up gaventstein apples into a consistency of cole slaw.

The clean up on this Chipper Shredder was horrible. The instructions said to clean it, but didn’t exactly suggest how. I tried using a cloth rag and soapy water, but there was just so much pomace in all sorts of places that I reverted to hosing it down after I covered the motor with plastic, though I’m sure I still got water into the motor. This worries me a bit, wondering how food safe it really is and if it can take apple juice on its parts and then be hosed off. I’m hoping it survives this cider season, but I question if it came make it to the next. In my head, I always said that if it wasn’t a good apple grinder, I would use it for its original purpose, but now I wonder if I’m being too hard on it that it will live that long.


  • It was much cheaper than anything else out there on the market.
  • My original plan was a garbage disposal, of which I had to replace my kitchen sink one this summer when the old one gave out. For $100, we got a ½ horse power garbage disposal to replace it with. This means that the garden chipper shredder has more horse power per dollars than the garbage disposal.
  • It was quiet compared to a garbage disposal.
  • Garbage disposals are known for overheating after 20 minutes of straight use. I was not using the chipper continuously as I went between work stations, but I think it could handle it better.


  • I’m a tish worried about the few pieces of exposed metal, but I’m hoping that the brief contact it has with the apples does not cause any problems, especially discoloration.
  • I’m not completely sure how “food grade” this might be, which means I’ll have to get a different apple grinder when I get my winery license.
  • All apples must be at least cut in half before put into the chipper, which adds to the amount of labor and time it takes. It took three people cutting apples for the chipper to keep up with my small press.
  • There is no way to change the chopping thickness. Cider apples need to be chopped smaller, and dessert apples need to be chopped coarser. This was good for dessert apples, but will be horrible when it comes to cider apples.
  • My father does not like motorized things from Harbor Freight Tools because they are made in China and therefore believes it will not have a very long working life.
  • It was horrible to clean up, which might lead to me shortening its lifespan.

Thing is, unless I went the really cheap method of pounding apples to pulverize them, this is about the cheapest method I can use to get started, which would allow me more money to build a press right and later come back and upgrade the grinder. Yes, it would have been probably cheaper in the long run to just buy a good grinder up front, but this will let me grow into it instead.

Now here is a good apple “scratter” available in the UK.

Update: Here are some pictures as to why Harbor Freight Chipper Shredder is difficult to clean.

Update: I am no longer using a Harbor Freight Chipper Shredder to grind up apples, as I have a new Italian apple grinder.


7 Responses to “My Apple Grinder”

  1. […] 6, 2010 So the big day arrived – I had 100 lbs of Gravenstain apples ready to grind, press, and start fermenting, and I had the equipment to do […]

  2. […] nobody was wanting to take it. I wanted it because I knew it would be much better than my current wood chipper acting as an apple grinder, but didn’t feel the timing was quite right. He knew this, really wanted it gone, and decided to […]

  3. […] My Apple Grinder (which I don’t recommend that model anymore due to problems) […]

  4. […] My (pathetic) Apple Grinder that I retired after just a few grindings. […]

  5. […] My (pathetic) Apple Grinder that I retired after just a few grindings. […]

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