There is an abundance of apples in Coconino County this fall due to the lack of an early frost and people may be using apples to make apple cider, according to the Coconino County Public Health Service District. As a result, the District is advising residents to protect themselves against potential foodborne illness from apple cider.
Foodborne illnesses have been attributed to the consumption of fresh, unpasteurized cider contaminated with a foodborne pathogen like E. coli O157:H7. Certain age groups are at a greater risk of complications from harmful bacteria such as children, the elderly and persons with compromised immune systems.
CCPHSD recommends taking the following precautions to protect against foodborne illness when making homemade apple cider:
• Avoid using apples that have visible signs of decay or mold growth.
• Wash apples thoroughly before pressing or grinding to make cider.
• Use a fruit press or small kitchen appliances to crush the fruit.
• Wash hands and sanitizing equipment.
• Place washed and rinsed utensils and equipment in a mixture of 1 tablespoon household bleach per gallon of water for at least 1 minute.
• Squeeze juice through a clean, damp muslin cloth.
• Pasteurize cider to ensure safety. Heat to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit and pour into warm jars to prevent breakage.
• Store cider in the refrigerator for immediate use, or up to five days. Put cider in the freezer if you want to keep it longer.
• Be sure to use strong, sound glass bottles that will not break during fermentation.
• Boil unpasteurized apple cider before drinking it or drinking pasteurized cider or juice.
After each day’s cider making, all equipment should be:
• Rinsed with potable water to remove apple and cider residue.
• Washed with warm soapy water and a clean brush.
• Sanitized with bleach diluted with clean, potable lukewarm water in a ratio of one-tablespoon bleach to one-gallon clean water. All utensils and equipment that contacted cider should be rinsed with this sanitizing solution.