Can cider become alcoholic?

Answered by Robert Dupre

Unpasteurized cider can indeed become alcoholic over time. Cider is made by pressing apples to extract their juice, which contains sugars. These sugars can be fermented by yeast, a type of microorganism, into alcohol. If left unattended, the natural yeast present on the apple skins or in the environment can begin to ferment the cider, converting the sugars into alcohol.

The fermentation process typically begins within a few hours to a few days after the cider is made. The yeast consumes the sugars in the cider and produces alcohol as a byproduct. This process continues until either all the sugars are consumed or the alcohol concentration reaches a level that inhibits further fermentation.

The speed of fermentation depends on various factors, including the temperature, the type of yeast present, and the sugar content of the cider. Warmer temperatures generally promote faster fermentation, while cooler temperatures can slow it down. Different strains of yeast can also have varying fermentation rates and alcohol tolerance levels.

If you want to prevent your cider from becoming alcoholic, it’s best to consume it within two weeks of making it. This ensures that there is not enough time for significant fermentation to occur. After this period, the alcohol content in the cider may start to increase, resulting in what is commonly known as hard apple cider.

However, if you do want to intentionally make hard apple cider, you can encourage fermentation by allowing the cider to sit at a controlled temperature for a longer period. This allows the yeast to continue fermenting the sugars and producing alcohol until the desired level of alcohol content is reached.

It’s important to note that the alcohol content in cider can vary widely depending on several factors, including the sugar content of the apples used, the fermentation process, and any additional sugars or ingredients added. Hard apple cider typically has an alcohol content ranging from 4% to 8% or even higher in some cases.

Another product that can be obtained from the fermentation of cider is apple cider vinegar. If the fermentation process continues beyond the production of alcohol, the cider can turn into vinegar. This occurs when certain bacteria convert the alcohol into acetic acid. The resulting vinegar has a tangy taste and can be used in various culinary and household applications.

Cider can indeed become alcoholic if left unpasteurized and given enough time for fermentation to occur. To prevent this, it’s best to consume the cider within two weeks of making it. If you want to intentionally make hard apple cider or apple cider vinegar, you can control the fermentation process to achieve the desired outcome.