Lincoln, Nebraska--For the first time ever, Nebraska City's trademark apple cider will be pasteurized this year, thanks to assistance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Food Processing Center and with the support of the Richard P. Kimmel and Laurine Kimmel Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Pasteurization of apple cider is something new in the state, according to Chris Aden, general manager of Arbor Day Farm. The 260-acre farm, located in Nebraska City, is a National Historic Landmark owned and operated by The National Arbor Day Foundation. Kimmel Orchard, recently purchased by the Kimmel Foundation, is now also operated by the Arbor Day Foundation.
"We have tested our cider throughout each harvest season for the presence of the E. coli bacteria and other dangerous bacteria, and it has always been found completely safe," Aden said. "This process is being tested as an added safeguard. Since cider products are not commonly pasteurized in Nebraska, UNL scientists are interested in working with us."
Researchers involved include Associate Dean and Director of Agricultural Research Dale Vanderholm; Dr. Durward Smith of the Department of Food Science and Technology; Laurie Keeler, general manager of the Pilot Plants Food Processing Center; and Michelle Ziemann, dairy operations/research manager of the Food Processing Center.
Every week from mid-September to late October, fresh cider will be taken by refrigerated semi-trailers from Arbor Day Farm and Kimmel Orchard to the Food Processing Center at UNL's East Campus, for pasteurization and bottling. The cider will then be returned for sale at Arbor Day Farm and Kimmel Orchard in half-gallon and gallon-sized containers.
"The timing of this is especially good, since we'll bring our first batch of pasteurized cider back on Friday, September 17, the day before Nebraska City's big apple harvest celebration, the Apple Jack Festival," Aden said. "This means thousands of visitors to Nebraska City for the weekend will have the opportunity to taste this new, fresh cider."
The pasteurization process will be done every Thursday and Friday at the Food Processing Center from Sept. 17 through October 29, Aden says, with visitors able to watch the operation through a glass observation wall.
"The end result will be the same delicious cider people have come to know at Arbor Day Farm and Kimmel Orchard for many years," Aden said, "but with an added measure of security and wholesomeness. We're grateful to the Kimmel Foundation for making this advance possible."
Note to Editors: Representatives of the media are invited to observe the pasteurization process and meet key officials of Arbor Day Farm and UNL's Food Processing Plant. They will be available to answer questions at the Food Industry Building at East Campus, Room 114, at 10:30 a.m., Friday, September 17. For more information, please call Gary Brienzo at The National Arbor Day Foundation, 402-474-5655, or Chris Aden at Arbor Day Farm, 402-873-8701.