Throughout most of the world the word “cider” actually refers to an alcoholic beverage. In America that is called “Hard Cider”. Non-alcoholic cider served year-round became popular due to refrigeration, which took off in America.
Yes, apple cider, whether alcoholic or not, can be frozen. In fact, freezing it extends its shelf life by a nearly indeterminate amount. Such a thing was undreamed of in the times when apple cider was invented, but now you can get it at the height of summer or the depths of winter.
Apple cider can be stored in the freezer for eight to twelve months and still retain its flavor. You need to leave room in its container for when it expands while frozen so that it does not break its container, but that is really the only precaution you need to take in order to keep it fresh.
You may be wondering, however, what makes it last eight months and what makes it last twelve months. That is quite the long range, and if it can really be enjoyed year-round then there must be a consistent method to freezing it in order to preserve it for the optimal length, right?
Sort of. The thing to remember about apple cider is that eight to twelve months is how long it takes for it to start losing taste. Something nice about apple cider is that it is actually still safe to drink after twelve months. Except perhaps keeping it in an airtight container, very little can affect how long its flavor lasts over such a long time.
What affects this loss of flavor the most is how long it was out and exposed to fresh air before it was frozen. Apple cider can last up to three hours when it is not in the refrigerator. In the refrigerator it can last up to a week. The difference between cider that lasts for eight months, and twelve months is how often it is used.
How All This Works
Back when apple cider first came into existence, it could only be produced at a certain time of the year. Some apples will inevitably bloom later than others, and before fruit could be reliably stored, this meant that those apples were very likely to go bad due to weather conditions before they could ever be eaten.
The solution was to juice the apples into a cider. This cider would be made alcoholic, as alcoholic beverages were actually far safer to drink than non-alcoholic ones in the time before modern food hygiene.
This is what led to the division between American “hard cider” and non-American “cider”. Refrigeration owes its existence to a great many people, but the first of them is William Cullen. Cullen was a Scottish scientist who, in the 1740s, discovered that the rapid heating of a liquid into a gas can result in the cooling of the gas.
A hundred years after that, American engineers began their work designing the first refrigerators. 1834 saw the invention of the first refrigeration machine by Jacob Perkins. An engineer named Oliver Evans designed a more efficient model, which was employed by John Gorrie, a doctor who used it to cool patients’ fevers.
This is why America has “hard cider” while the rest of the world just has “cider”. It was only in the very American time of the early 19th century with the invention of the refrigerator, that such a difference began to require language to separate one kind of cider from the other. This invention did not exist in a vacuum, though.
This probably seems like a lot of names that, after a while, start to sound made up. But that is the nature of history when you really get down to it. Oftentimes history is construed as a series of great individuals shaping world events. Caeser, Alexander, Napoleon, Kennedy, and so on, are cast as the “main characters” of life.
But in reality, even an invention so easily taken for granted as refrigeration took a hundred years to develop from conception to practical production. No one has ever spent a hundred years working on anything other than staying alive. No single person can solve a one-hundred-year problem.
Can Non-Alcoholic Cider Turn Alcoholic?
This is an interesting quirk of non-alcoholic cider as it is stored in the refrigerator. Earlier, it was mentioned that cider can stay in the fridge for about a week before going bad. That is mostly true. But as far as some people are concerned, “going bad” is not exactly the right word for it.
After two weeks in the fridge, most non-alcoholic cider will ferment. It will retain a little of its taste, but for the most part it will taste like vinegar. This probably will not be the most offensive thing however, as its components will also break down into alcohol, turning it into a real hard cider.
This will not happen when the cider is frozen, however.