Is Cider Vegan? Organic? Gluten-Free?
There has been a craft cider explosion in recent years, with new producers popping up all over the place. This is great news for those of us who appreciate a good cider, but it can also be a bit confusing trying to figure out what's what.
One question that comes up frequently is whether craft ciders are vegan, organic or gluten-free, and whether they contain sulphites or sugar. In this blog post, we'll answer all those questions and more!
Is Cider Vegan-Friendly?
The short answer to this question is sometimes! Most craft ciders are vegan-friendly because the majority of craft cidermakers only use fruit juices in their products so they are naturally vegan. However, there are a few ingredients that can be used in cider (and beer/ wine) making that aren't vegan so you need to check.
Why are some ciders not vegan?
There are a couple of reasons why some ciders might not be vegan. The most common reason is that some producers use 'finings' to remove sediment from their drinks. Some finings are produced from dairy derivatives, some contain animal derivatives and some don't contain anything that is not vegan-friendly. While none of the finings remain in the finished products, cider that is made in this way cannot be said to be vegan-friendly.
Another ingredient that can sometimes be used in cider making is honey. While honey is a natural product, it is not considered vegan-friendly as it is produced by bees.
The only way to know for sure is to check with each individual producer.
Which ciders are vegan?
There aren't many ciders that are sold as 'vegan cider' as all cider is vegan unless something has been added to make it non-vegan. Most vegan friendly cider will say so on the bottle so if it doesn't say so on the bottle you'll need to check.
All of our Ciders are Vegan
We've taken the hard work out of this and have already checked with all of our producers so we can say that every cider that we sell is vegan-friendly.
Is Cider Organic?
You can't assume that cider (or any drink) is organic unless it says so on the label. Craft cider-makers are very fussy about what fruit they use in their cider but this is not the same as being organic cider. The word ‘organic’ has a very specific meaning and can only be used to describe fruit grown in orchards that have been certified to be pesticide free.
Some producers get all of their fruit from unsprayed orchards (which may or may not be certified as organic) and some producers buy some of their fruit from orchards that may or may not have been sprayed. The only way to guarantee if a cider is 'organic' is to check if it has the Soil Association organic certification on the label.
Is Cider Gluten-Free?
Yes, the good news is that craft cider is naturally gluten-free. There is nothing in craft cider that contains gluten so cider is often seen as a good alternative to beer for those that are sensitive to gluten.
Does Cider contain Sulphites?
All cider contains a small amount of sulphites as they are naturally-occurring but craft cider contains much less than commercial cider.
Craft cider-makers use a very small amount of sulphites after the fermentation process to kill off bacteria which could affect the cider but these are kept to an absolute minimum as they could also kill off the wild yeasts that give the cider its character.
By contrast, commercial cider-makers typically want to kill off the wild yeasts so they can introduce their own cultured yeasts so they use much larger quantities of sulphites. This is one of the reasons you get a headache after drinking cheap cider!
Does Cider contain sugar?
Most cider contains sugar. During the fermentation process, all of the sugar is converted into alcohol so you are left with very dry cider. This is not to most people's tastes so if you want a sweeter cider then you have to sweeten it with something. The main options you can use to sweeten a cider are sugar, honey, fruit juice or artificial sweeteners. Most ciders are sweetened with sugar.
Cider sweetened with apple juice is very fruity but you need quite a lot of apple juice to sweeten cider. Cider sweetened with honey is another option but it has quite a distinctive honey taste and is not vegan-friendly. We wouldn't want to add artificial sweeteners to craft cider so the only other way to sweeten cider is with sugar! The only other options are to drink dry cider or to ‘keeve’ the cider (see our Cider FAQ for more information about keeving).
So there you have it - the low down on what's in your cider. Hopefully that's answered some questions and put your mind at ease. Just remember - there's no requirements to list ingredients on alcoholic drinks in the UK so beware of commercial cider makers who might use shortcuts to make their cider. Craft cider makers are very proud of what goes into their cider so they will list exactly what is in the bottle, on the bottle!