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October 13, 2009

Cider Under Fire

It’s cider season. But producers in Maine and across the nation aren’t able to distribute unpasteurized cider on the wholesale market because of federal regulations requiring pasteurization, which some producers claim destroys the amino acids in the beverage, thereby stripping it of its “basic building blocks” of nutrition.

The FDA stands by the 2001 rule, which it says was established because of a “long history of food-borne illness outbreaks associated with unpasteurized juices.” But at least one Maine producer of 100% organic cider says they have never heard of any customers getting sick and warns “We’re a dying species if we’re not supported.” Thankfully, many of these producers sell their unadulterated product on the farm — so with a little extra effort you can still taste it in its natural state.

Rum (a few jiggers, prefer) and cider with a dash of cinnamon or vanilla is one of my favorite fall drinking treats — cold or hot. The rum (and heating) probably negate any health properties of mass-market cider, but if I could get my hands on some of the small-batch stuff, I still may have a chance. I wonder if health reform will cover that.

Jessica Strelitz is a contributing writer to Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.


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