By popular request, this collection includes ciders available now in our shop that have no added sulfites. We have many more ciders in our shop that likely have zero added sulfites and we are inquiring with our cider making friends to be sure this list is as full as possible. Keep checking back for updates! Want to know more about sulfites in cider and why that's relevant - read below! Are you newly exploring for ciders that are free of sulfite additions? We would be happy to curate a mix of ciders for you to try. Grab one of these curated cider boxes and include a note at checkout to include only ciders with no added sulfites, plus any other flavor preferences you want to share.
What are sulfites, and why does that matter in cider? Is there such thing as sulfite free cider? Let's unpack those questions a bit!
What are Sulfites? Why are they used in cider making?
Sulfites are a food preservative, commonly used in winemaking and cider making (Cider is Wine!). Sulfites are often used to maintain freshness in many foods, and in cider and wine can help stabilize the color, aroma, and flavor. Sulfites can also prevent any unwanted bacteria or wild fermentation to occur in a cider. Sulfites additions in cider also have many downsides. For starters, the presence of sulfur can be perceived as an off-putting fault (especially in the aroma, who wants to smell a freshly struck match in their cider?). Even if sulfur additions are not noticeable on the aroma, their intended use can have the negative effect of lowering the intensity of desirable aromatics or flavor in a cider. Beyond negative impacts on the flavor and aroma of a cider, there can also be health consequences for consuming sulfites ranging from insensitivities to more severe allergies. Have you experienced a wine-induced headache? That was most likely the sulfur!
Are ciders "sulfite free"? Are there any sulfite free ciders?
In short, no. Sulfites are naturally produced by yeast during alcoholic fermentation, therefore any hard cider will contain very small, trace amounts of sulfites. The level of sulfites naturally present in a cider from fermentation are at levels so low they're highly unlikely to cause negative health effects (this isn't medical advice!). Those seeking out cider as a wine alternative to limit sulfite/sulfur/sulfate intake should be looking for ciders with "zero added sulfites" or "no sulfites added". Note that for this reason, packaging for ciders may still say “may contain sulfites” or “contains sulfites” even if there have been no sulfites added by the cider maker during production or packaging.
Why are sulfite levels (often) lower in cider than in wine? Oversimplification: sulfites are harder to detect in wine than in cider, so a higher level may be used by winemakers. Wine is often higher in alcohol than cider, too, and therefore may have a higher level of naturally occurring sulfites caused by a longer or more active fermentation.
For context, SO2 (chemical compound for Sulfur Dioxide, a.k.a. Sulfites) levels in cider are typically much lower than those in wine - but even wine has sulfite levels much lower than many other common foods!