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Preparation Of Apple Cider For Home Use

by: Val Hillers, Ph.D. , Extension Food Specialist
Richard H. Dougherty, Ph.D., Extension Food Science Specialist


Fresh (unpasteurized) apple cider may contain bacteria that can result in illness.  The most likely way that apples get contaminated with bacteria is from cow, sheep or deer manure that gets on the apples as they drop on the ground in the orchard.  However, dust and irrigation water may also be sources of pathogens so even apples picked from trees can have bacteria on them.  Thus, there is always a risk that fresh cider may contain bacteria such asE. coli O157:H7 orSalmonella.  

The only way to assure that bacteria in fresh cider are killed is to pasteurize it by heating.  Pasteurization is particularly important when using apples that have dropped from the trees onto the ground because these apples are more likely to have bacterial contamination.

To make apple cider:

  1. Wash the apples thoroughly with water.

  2. Press the apples to make cider.

  3. Pasteurize the apple juice by heating to at least 160F to kill any harmful bacteria (such asE. coli O157:H7) that may have been on the apples.  Check the temperature with a thermometer because you will maintain a taste more like unheated apple cider if you don't bring the cider to a full boil.

  4. Keep the cider refrigerated.
Almost all apple cider sold in grocery stores is pasteurized, but cider sold in fruit stands is frequently unpasteurized.  If you purchase refrigerated apple cider, check the label to see if the cider if pasteurized.  If it is not pasteurized, follow the guidelines for heating cider above before drinking the cider.  (Cider that does not need refrigeration has been heated sufficiently to kill pathogens.)

Caution: Young children, elderly and immunocompromised should never drink fresh apple cider unless it has been heated to at least 160F.  These groups of people are much more likely to get seriously ill from a bacterial illness.



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