Note that this section discusses the intentional production of apples for the purpose of making fermented or hard cider, which in this section will be referred to as ‘cider’. The term ‘sweet cider’ will refer to non-fermented, fresh cider that is traditionally sold in plastic jugs at farms and other retail outlets. It is important to distinguish between the two types of cider due to differences between them in handling and food safety. Fermentation and other processes ‘treat’ the juice from cider apples in a manner that inherently improves microbial food safety. Juice for sweet cider is non- or minimally-treated, making food safety requirements substantially greater for juice apples than for cider apples Fruit used in making sweet cider must be whole, sound, and free from soil and other contaminants. This does not mean that cider fruit may be damaged and dirty, but they may have a higher tolerance for imperfections.
In recent years, growth in the production and marketing of fermented/hard cider has been accompanied by increased interest in growing cider apples. The first consideration is to properly define ‘cider apples’. A simple definition is ‘apples used to make cider’. Growers should then carefully consider the economic and management impacts of producing cider apples. Some of those considerations include: cidery demand; current market supply; and orchards design management factors.