Safety Tip: Buying Apple Cider

Although delicious, not all apple cider is the safest. Find out what you should be looking for when purchasing your next container. Unpasteurized cider can harbor potentially harmful bacteria.
Related To:

Every fall, my mom brings out her special tray of warm apple cider flavored with a cinnamon stick. Although delicious, not all apple cider is the safest. Find out what you should be looking for when purchasing your next container.

The Problem

Ever been apple picking? If so, you probably remember seeing fallen apples everywhere and maybe even tripping over a few. These gems don’t go to waste -- some farmers collect the usable ones to make the bottled cider that we all love. Of course, you're not the only one tripping over those fallen bits; animals often graze in apple orchards and fields -- just think about what else they're getting on those apples.

Pasteurized vs. Unpasteurized

Most cider is perfectly fine; it’s the unpasteurized stuff you want to be mindful of. After the apples are picked (or picked up), many commercial cider makers heat their liquid to kill the bad bacteria. Some smaller farms may not have the money to invest in pasteurization equipment or feel that pasteurization ruins the taste of the cider, so they sell it unpasteurized. Unpasteurized cider was linked to numerous outbreaks of E. Coli and Salmonella in the late 1990s.

Making It Safe

What’s a cider lover to do? Dana has a farm near her home where they do pasteurize their cider, but when I went apple picking a few years back, I saw a large note on the container indicating that the cider was not pasteurized. Ever since those outbreaks a decade ago, the FDA has required unpasteurized cider products to have a clear label. If you see one, it likely says “This product has not been pasteurized and, therefore, may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness to children, the elderly and persons with weakened immune systems.” Your local farm stand may not advertise it one way or the other. When in doubt, check the labels and ask.

While a sip of unpasteurized cider here or there might be harmless, keep in mind what the FDA notice says -- don't serve any unpasteurized foods to high-risk folks like older adults, infants, young kids, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system. If you do buy some unpasteurized cider, freezing or refrigerating it will not destroy the harmful bacteria, but boiling the cider for 10 minutes will. Added bonus: pasteurized cider lasts longer (up to three weeks in the refrigerator).

Keep Reading

Next Up

10 Ways to Use Apple Cider

We just can’t get enough of this seasonal treat. Scoop some apple cider up at the farmers’ market or apple orchard and make these inspired recipes.

Alex's Perfect Mulled Apple Cider for Halloween

This Halloween, I’m taking a break from the usual pumpkin-related suspects and immersing myself in this mulled apple cider.

Apple Recipes for Every Variety

Ways to use different varieties of popular apples in season

Easy Apple Crisp — Most Popular Pin of the Week

It's no wonder Food Network fans pinned the Neelys' Apple Crisp recipe more than any other this week: It’s a fuss-free dessert you can count on.

Apple Picking in New England and What I'm Cooking with 20 Pounds of Apples

Hear how Melissa's putting autumn's bounty of apples to work in sweet and savory recipes.

All About Apples — Celebrate the First Day of Fall

Check out Food Network's favorite apple centric recipes below, and head to the orchard to get picking.

The Veggie Table: Apple Walnut Wheat Berry Salad

Take advantage of the flavors of fall with this savory, vegan apple and wheat berry salad.

Spotlight Recipe: Waldorf Salad

This creamy sweet salad always screams summer to me, but with apples at the their ripest, now is a great time to enjoy a Waldorf Salad, which is made lighter with low-fat mayonnaise and yogurt.