How Long Does Apple Cider Last? Tips to Keep It Fresh

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 14th, 2023

When it comes to the quintessential flavors of autumn, apple cider ranks high on the list. But as you savor each sip, you may find yourself wondering, “How long does apple cider last?” If so, you’re in the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to delve deep into the shelf life of apple cider, offer crucial tips for storage, and help you make informed decisions on the consumption of this seasonal delight.

What is Apple Cider?

Apple cider is more than just a beverage; it’s a cultural symbol of fall festivities. Crafted from the juice of freshly pressed apples, apple cider comes in a variety of flavors, ranging from sweet to tart. Unlike apple juice, which is filtered and sweetened, apple cider retains a robust apple flavor and has less sugar. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it’s a wonderful addition to a balanced diet, and its diverse applications extend from sipping to cooking and even making vinegar.

person holding goblet glass and highball glass

Refrigerated Apple Cider: How Long Does it Last?

When you bring home a jug of apple cider and decide to refrigerate it, you’ve got a window of about 7 to 10 days to enjoy its freshness after opening. It’s essential to remember that raw apple cider is particularly sensitive to temperature changes, only lasting up to 2-3 hours if left unrefrigerated. On the other end of the spectrum, boiled cider boasts an indefinite shelf life when refrigerated—though it’s often enjoyed long before it has a chance to go bad.

Unopened Apple Cider: An Extended Lifespan

A sealed bottle of apple cider can generally last up to two months in the refrigerator. Consistency in temperature is key, as is keeping it away from direct sunlight. With unpasteurized apple cider, you have a shorter window—about two weeks—because it lacks preservatives. This makes it susceptible to spoilage. Always remember to check the expiration date on the package for the most accurate guidance on storage.

Opened Apple Cider: Your Countdown Starts Now

Once that seal is broken, your apple cider’s shelf life starts its countdown. In the fridge, expect it to last 7 to 10 days. To give your opened cider a longer lifespan, consider freezing it. Use an airtight container and leave a half-inch of headspace at the top to allow for expansion when frozen. Hard cider also retains its quality after thawing, so feel free to freeze if you wish.

Pasteurized vs. Unpasteurized: A Crucial Distinction

Apple cider comes in two main forms: pasteurized and unpasteurized. Pasteurized apple cider has been heat-treated to kill bacteria, making it safer and longer-lasting. On the other hand, unpasteurized cider has a more limited lifespan and should be consumed within a few days of opening. This choice matters significantly in determining the cider’s longevity, so keep this in mind when shopping.

A Guide to Apple Cider Storage

Storage for apple cider demands a two-pronged approach: temperature and container type. Unopened cider can last up to two months in a dark, dry room, but for extended storage, refrigeration is recommended. Once opened, you’re looking at a shelf life of seven to ten days in the fridge. Freezing is also an option; use an airtight container and allow for expansion by leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.

Signs of Spoilage: What to Look For

How do you know when it’s time to say goodbye to your apple cider? Keep an eye out for changes in color, smell, and taste. Discard it if you notice an off-color or a sour smell. Consuming spoiled apple cider poses health risks, including food poisoning, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

To Freeze or Not To Freeze?

The answer is a resounding yes—if you’re looking to maximize your apple cider’s shelf life. While freezing won’t kill bacteria in unpasteurized cider, it will significantly extend the lifespan of pasteurized cider. Just remember to consume it within a week after thawing for the best quality.

Concluding Thoughts

With proper storage, apple cider can be a long-lasting addition to your culinary repertoire. From the differences between pasteurized and unpasteurized to key indicators of spoilage, we’ve covered all you need to know to enjoy this fall favorite safely and for as long as possible. Keep these tips in mind, and your apple cider experiences will be nothing short of delightful.


Editorial Staff

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