Does Hard Cider Go Bad?
Does hard cider go bad? A question one may find themselves asking when diving into the cidermaking world, but a valid one at that. The answer, however, is 'it depends', it can go bad but not for the reasons you think, but how long does it take to go bad?
Hard cider, or simply cider as it is known in the UK, is a popular alcoholic beverage made from fermenting apple juice. The most basic description is an alcoholic apple juice. Sorry, children, this cup is not yours.
Whether you made your hard cider from store-bought apple juice or made your own by pressing your own apples, the end-product is more or less the same. There will also be minor differences between using apple juice and apple cider. The juices themselves are different wherein apple juice has been clarified and often sweetened, whereas apple cider is pure and unadulterated juice pressed from apples. The latter, however, only has a shelf-life of about two weeks, after which it begins to naturally ferment due to the wild yeast found on the skins of the apples.
Whichever base form you choose, however, the end-product will always be reminiscent of autumn because it is, after all, the apple-picking season. Move over, pumpkin spice, apples are the originals.
While hard cider can be aged for years, it becomes drier as time passes, and the general shelf-life of cider is considered to be a year or two. What happens after a certain time has elapsed? Well, it can become apple cider vinegar. Great for cooking and for making vinaigrettes, not so much for drinking, though. The easiest way to tell if your cider has gone "bad" is by its signature vinegary smell.
It is not the alcohol in the hard cider that goes bad, but, rather, the flavor profiles of it change over time. It is not technically expired in the traditional sense of expiration but the hard cider develops a stronger, undesirable taste that has become even more alcoholic.
So, does hard cider go bad? Technically, no, but it can ultimately become quit acidic which can make it undrinkable. No surprise, however, if there are people who enjoy it this way... drink on!
Remember, hard ciders can be made from either apple juice or from fresh apples, and both can be extraordinarily awesome drinks.