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What Do We Know About Cider?

By Pamela Redwine
County Coordinator
MSU Extension Agent III

Cider is often considered integral to the holiday season, but what do we actually know about this drink?
The difference between cider and apple juice that’s found shelf stable at the grocery store is that the apple juice has been filtered and pasteurized. This juice is clear. It is heated and processed and packaged so that it can be kept unrefrigerated. It can be found year-round.
Fresh apple cider is an unfiltered and unsweetened beverage made by crushing or pressing fresh apples. It’s frequently cloudy, which is caused by some apple bits and solids. Cider can be made by pressing other fruits in addition to apples.
Sweet fresh cider is non-alcoholic. The cider’s taste is determined by the variety and blend of apples used. Fresh cider should be refrigerated. Sometimes after storage (even in the refrigerator) you’ll get “fizzy” cider. This is natural fermentation; it’s safe to drink but does contain a small amount of alcohol.
Hard cider is fermented alcoholic apple juice and has more of a tangy flavor. It is usually fermented at room temperature.
But let’s go back to fresh cider for a moment.
Cider has been linked with foodborne illness outbreaks. For at least 30 years, this has been a problem. Unpasteurized cider may contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. We now know that apples collected off the ground (sometimes called drops) may have been exposed to harmful bacteria on the ground or exposed to manure from wild and farm animals.
Cider has been linked specifically to a foodborne illness caused by E.coli — specifically Escherichia coli O157:H7.
Most cider sold today is pasteurized to reduce these bacteria and the risk of foodborne illness. In addition, most commercial cider producers do not use drops, wash the apples, and sort them to remove spoiled apples along with any leaves or debris. Various states have different rules regarding the sale of unpasteurized cider.
Article Source: Communicating Food for Health, December 2020 Newsletter

Extension Office Notes:

• The December 4-H cooking kits will be ready for pickup on Dec. 10th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Don’t forget to sign up for the next quarter’s cooking kit. The cost is $15 for 3 kits.
• 4-H Robotics will meet at 4 p.m. on Dec. 15. The meeting will be face-to-face at the Extension office or you can join via zoom.  The zoom link will be emailed closer to the meeting time.  Contact the Extension Office for more information.
• The Create Club MHV will meet Wednesday, Dec. 9.  Bring an ornament to swap. Please remember to wear your mask.
• The Looped with Love Crochet MHV Club will meet on Thursday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m. at the Extension Office. Please remember to wear your mask.

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