Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hassle-Free Pressing

When I went in to check the Pod today the cap was finally down:
I started to press at 3 pm (total of 25 days maceration). The press assembled easily: and I set it to "heavy" pressing. Once the automatic cycle reached its end, I switched to manual mode to continue pushing on the cake at the highest pressure. The way a press cake sets up, once the final pressure is first attained the cake expresses some juice, and the internal pressure decreases. We bring the pressure up to the setpoint again, the cake expresses some more juice, and the pressure decreases again, but just a little less than the time before. This cycle is repeated until there is no pressure drop between cycles. At the start of this process, the time between cycles could be as short as a minute. During the cycling this interval should gradually increase; my personal point of diminishing returns is ten minutes between the last two cycles. This is the program I approximated manually, though I did not time the intervals exactly nor count them rigorously (there were about 20).

I siphoned the wine out of the Pod through a colander and into buckets:
I tilted the Pod and scooped out another half-gallon. Then I set the press control to back out. I turned my back to do some cleanup and when I looked back at the Pod the inner tank was being lifted out of the outer shell. I should have held the tank down during this initial press reversal. I found that the tank needs to be held down again when the press plate catches the lifting dogs on the cake basket. After the motor had pulled the press cake loose from the bottom of the tank liner I removed the top bolt and lifted the cake out manually.

The cake was acceptably dense and dry:
I was not able to push the tank liner back into the shell completely by myself - this appers to be a 2-person job. After cleaning out the inside of the Pod I returned the wine and measured the volume to be 10.9 gallons (I calculated about 0.69 gallons per inch). I put the lid on and set the temperature contol points to 72° and 75° F.

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