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Come the time of the year when apples are ready, and the excellent harvest this year in Finland, I have decided to give cider making a try. I have a fair amount of experience making beer at home and thus have been (naively) transferring some of this knowledge to cider.

I am extremely scrupulous when it comes to cleanliness and sanitation with beer brewing, and so I'm worried about putting non-sterile apple juice to ferment, knowing that there are bacteria etc. present. You boil the beer wort before putting it to ferment, so it becomes effectively sterile when fermentation kicks in. But you do not boil the apple juice.

I know that yeast outcompetes any other microorganisms but I'm still worried about cider infections and the possible associated health risks.

I have already tried with a small amount (4 litre demijohn) and drunk most of this cider already. It tasted good. However I'm now preparing to ferment a considerably larger amount and want to be extra careful.

I wanted to ask whether I am being a bit exaggerate and there are any real dangers to drinking non-sterile unpasteurized cider. I also wanted to know if there are some considerations that I should take into account, such as maximum storage time for the bottled cider and other precautions.

Finally, I would like to know what are easy-to-implement procedures to sterilize the apple juice and what are their pros and cons.

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Basically just wash the apples very well before pressing and practice good sanitation during production.

Use a desired yeast instead of chancing with wild fermentation. Few wild yeasts actually produce favorable results.

Once fermentation is complete the health risks are minimal. Fermented cider is an environment where harmful pathogens can't survive long. Some molds can produce neural toxins, so if you have black / blue mold use caution.

You can pasteurize the cider by heating to 170° or even boiling but this does effect the flavor, clarity and ABV. There are many chemical additions that can be used also, all having their own nuances to deal with.

It really depends on what you want in the final product.

Most cidermakes prefer to use raw cider and depend on yeast becoming the dominate organizim as soon as possible.

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