Safe Cider Know-How
— By Danielle Breunig, University of Maine Dietetic Intern
Make Safe Cider at Home
Fresh unpasteurized cider can cause foodborne illness outbreaks due to contamination of foodborne pathogens. Certain age groups such as children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses. Precautions can be taken to prevent the risk of foodborne illness by boiling unpasteurized cider before consumption or consuming pasteurized cider. This precaution does not kill every microorganism that might be present in the cider. Other concerns include fungal toxins called Patulin which is heat stable and can survive pasteurization. It’s possible for Patulin to form during the production and storage of cider.
Pasteurizing Homemade Cider
Acidity and refrigeration are two key components when it comes to the safety of cider. Producers who sell cider must be licensed by the Maine Department of Agriculture and are required to be inspected regularly to assure that safe and sanitary guidelines are being followed. The Maine State Food Law states that cider producers may not sell, advertise, offer, or expose cider that has not been heat-treated to a temperature of 155° F or higher for 10 seconds unless it is labeled as being unpasteurized. If cider is made at home, it is the responsibility of the homemaker to take cider safety into their own hands. Go to the Maine Legislature website for more information about Maine cider laws.
Here are some cider making do’s and don’ts safety guidelines from Maine’s apple growers, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension:
- Wash the apples with clean water before grinding the apples.
- Clean and sanitize equipment and cloths before using them.
- Mixing in tart apples will increase the acidity of the cider.
- Food-grade plastic or stainless-steel containers are ideal for cider.
- Heat the cider to 155° F for 10 seconds.
- Store cider in clean and sanitized containers in the refrigerator at 40° F or lower.
- Avoid using spoiled, moldy, contaminated, or defective apples.
- Don’t store apples in the open, on the ground or in wet environments .
- Avoid exposing the cider to air and insects.
- Avoid leaving the cider at room temperature for two hours or longer.
- Don’t reuse containers that aren’t all the way clean.
- Don’t store cider in containers with porous surfaces.