How Long Does Apple Cider Last Opened? [A Complete Guide with Q&A]

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Come autumn and you’ll find family and friends recreating their best apple cider recipes.

 A glass of fresh apple cider with a hint of cinnamon or spice is such a delightful way to enjoy the holidays. And why wait for the weather to get chilly?

 Apple cider, mulled or plain, can be enjoyed any time of the year and not just as a delightful drink. You can add them to sauces, in cookies, crumbles and bars, or use preserves for its pectin content. 

 So, you finally got around to make apple cider for the first time at home. Maybe you received a canned bottle from a friend or picked a carton from the grocery aisle. 

 It’s perfectly natural to want to make it go a long way, and retain the flavor.

Are you wondering for how long you can store apple cider after you’ve opened it?

Opened jars and cartons of apple cider, freshly canned or purchased, can last for two hours at room temperature. It stays fresh for a week in the fridge to more than a year in your freezer.Some say indefinitely when constantly frozen at 0° F.

With this guide, you will know how long you can store opened apple cider. I will be providing pointers for pushing the shelf life further and checking for signs of spoiling. 

 But before that, make sure your cider is made with pasteurized apple juice. Otherwise, you could end up with a foodborne illness.

Benefits Of Sweet Apple Cider

 Apple cider is basically apple juice extracted from pulp that has been heated. It has all the nutrients found in the juice and some more.

 For one, cider includes some apple particles while apple juice is filtered to remove all fruit. That’s why cider tends to have a darker, opaque texture compared to the lighter juice.

 While commercial versions of both drinks are pasteurized, apple juice can be loaded with extra sugar, corn syrup and artificial flavorings making it unhealthier.

 Besides, sweet cider is said to contain two time more antioxidants compared to filtered apple juice.

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Are Apple Cider And Apple Cider Vinegar The Same?

 While they are made from the same ingredient – apples – the process and the final product are vastly different. 

 The apple cider or sweet cider you find in the US is a healthy drink similar but stronger than apple juice. In Europe and other countries, cider refers to hard cider made from fermented apple juice. 

 Apple cider vinegar (AVC) is made by fermenting apples to change it chemical composition and become vinegar – the natural preservative.

 Unlike sweet cider, AVC is more of a natural remedy that should be consumed in small quantities. It is used in baking, as a preservative, or in sweeter vinaigrettes. 

 So, coming back to your question:

Apple cider being filtered with a press

How Long Does Apple Cider Last Once Opened? 

 The answer will largely depend on the temperature and storage conditions. In colder weather, apple cider can last a bit longer in the pantry.

 Opened and unopened cider last roughly the same amount of time without the use of preservatives to increase shelf life.

 Related: Does Buttercream Frosting Need To Be Refrigerated?

How Long Can Opened Apple Cider Sit Out?

If you’re planning to use spiced or sweet apple cider in a short while, you can keep it at room temperature (between 60-70°F). But don’t let it sit out for more than 2-3 hours, especially in hot weather. 

 The reason for this is simple. Your cider will start fermenting in warm temperature.

 How Long Does Opened Apple Cider Last In The Refrigerator? 

If you planning to use this cider later, say as a dinner party drink, then refrigerate it immediately after you’ve bought or made it.

 An opened bottle of apple cider that has been refrigerated should remain fresh for 7 to 10 days after opening.

 As this is a seasonal drink available for a short period in grocery stores, you may want to buy now for future use.  To extend the best-by date further, the freezer is your best option.

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How Long Does Sweet Cider Last In The Freezer? 

When you store it properly (I share some best tips later in this guide) this apple drink will maintain its quality for 8-12 months. The freezing should be done at 0°F or lower for best quality.

But the delightful drink will last much longer, without expiring and you can safely consume this after you thaw it.

How Long Does Apple Cider Last After Being Frozen And Thawed? 

 Cider is usually thawed in two ways. Either overnight in the fridge or directly in cold water or microwave. 

 You can defrost your frozen drink by keeping it in the fridge overnight. Thawed in this manner, it will last for 3-5 days before its starts losing its flavor. 

 A quicker way to thaw is to sue the defrost setting in the microwave or place the bottle/jar in a bowl of cold water. This apple cider needs to be drunk or used immediately, and the extra liquid drained down the sink.

Apple with bottles of apple cider

What About Unopened Apple Cider?

 An unopened jar of cider should last for two weeks in the fridge and indefinitely in the freezer.

 It is not shelf stable due to the lack of preservatives or additional sugar.  Like opened cider, this will not last long at room temperature or in the kitchen cabinet.

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Can You Prolong The Shelf Life Of Your Apple Cider?

 There are a few ways to make your cider last longer in the fridge or freezer.

  • Open the bottle only when you’re ready to use it.
  • Keep the opened drink tightly closed or transfer to an airtight container. Keep an ½-inch gap on top as the cider will expand while freezing.
  • Store cider in smaller bottles and thaw only what you need. 

Final Thoughts

 Apple cider is tasty drink that you can have make and have any time of the year. 

 But this preservative-free and low-sugar drink doesn’t last long at room temperature or in the storage cabinet.

 Storing in the fridge give you 1-2 weeks’ time to consume it, either opened or sealed). It can last for almost, and far longer in the freezer. 

Have you used cider past its best-by date? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 I tried to answer some common questions for which readers may need answers.

Can you eat apple cider past its expiration date?

Sweet apple doesn’t really have an expiry date. At the most, it loses its quality and starts turning fermenting and gets a bitter taste. If you’ve stored it in the freezer, it is perfectly safe to drink past the expiry date. 

How to tell whether opened apple cider is spoiled? 

Unless it smells off or tastes weird, you can use store bought apple cider stored in the freezer. 

 Discard if it smells bad, tastes sour and bitter, or has a murky and foamy appearance. While this drink is darker than apple juice, a much deeper shade is a sign of fermentation.

Is homemade cider good beyond a week in the fridge?

For homemade cider, check for signs of spoiling or fermenting. If you have kept it in the fridge for more than a week, avoid using it.

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