Patulin is a mycotoxin produced primarily by Penicillium expansum, a mold responsible for rot in apples and other fruits. The growth of this fungus and the production of patulin are common in fruit that has been damaged. However, patulin can be detected in visibly sound fruit. The purpose of this project was to determine how apple quality, storage, and washing treatments affect patulin levels in apple cider. Patulin was not detected in cider pressed from fresh tree-picked apples (seven cultivars) but was found at levels of 40.2 to 374 μg/liter in cider pressed from four cultivars of fresh ground-harvested (dropped) apples. Patulin was not detected in cider pressed from culled tree-picked apples stored for 4 to 6 weeks at 0 to 2°C but was found at levels of 0.97 to 64.0 μg/liter in cider pressed from unculled fruit stored under the same conditions. Cider from controlled-atmosphere-stored apples that were culled before pressing contained 0 to 15.1 μg of patulin per liter, while cider made from unculled fruit contained 59.9 to 120.5 μg of patulin per liter. The washing of ground-harvested apples before pressing reduced patulin levels in cider by 10 to 100%, depending on the initial patulin levels and the type of wash solution used. These results indicate that patulin is a good indicator of the quality of the apples used to manufacture cider. The avoidance of ground-harvested apples and the careful culling of apples before pressing are good methods for reducing patulin levels in cider.

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