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What do we mean by “all-natural” cider?

June 17, 2020

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While we’re generally big proponents of all things “natural,” it can be tough to sift through what that word actually means. There’s a lot of different ways a product could be “natural” and one person’s definition isn’t necessarily the same as another’s. So instead of letting you decide what we mean when we say that City Roots ciders are 100% all-natural, we figured we’d lay it out for you to avoid any confusion…  

For us, to call a cider “all-natural” means 4 things about the product… fresh-pressed juice, no cheap sweeteners, real ingredients, & no preservatives.

Fresh-pressed juice: All great cider starts out as great apple juice but the best ciders are made from juice that’s fresh-pressed. City Roots ciders are always fermented from fresh-pressed apple juice and never from apple concentrate. Less processed juice = better tasting cider and a lot less energy wasted while making it! It would be easier and more cost-efficient for us to import concentrate from overseas, but the flavor profile of concentrate is stale and sugary and leads to far less enjoyable ciders. By using regionally-sourced apples, we’re also helping support local agriculture.

No cheap sweeteners: An easy way to cut cider-making costs would be to use some form of processed sugar to either sweeten the juice or back-sweeten the fermented cider. Most processed sugars behave a lot like apple sugars (tastes sweet and ferments out) but can produce unpleasant flavors or off-notes and make for unpleasant ciders. That’s not to say that we’ll never use other natural sugar sources (like honey for example) but never to cut costs on fresh-pressed juice.    

Real ingredients: When a City Roots cider calls for more than just apples, we rely on real ingredients to impart whatever additional flavor we’re looking to add: real pumpkin and ground spices for Pumpkin Cider, juniper needles for Evergreen, hibiscus flowers for Roof-Deck Rosé, & ground ginger and lemongrass for Summer Spritz. It would be much easier to skip real ingredients and instead use natural or artificial flavors, but that would make for less authentic ciders with potentially artificial-tasting flavor profiles. We don’t want our ciders to taste like flavorings, we want our ciders to taste like well-made, inventive ciders.   

No preservatives: It’s on us to make sure that when someone drinks a City Roots cider, it tastes just like it did when it was packaged. The biggest issue when packaging a cider is that leftover yeast could keep eating away at the residual sugar, causing refermentation in the package. When done deliberately- like in a bottle-conditioned brut cider- the end results can be great, but when done unintentionally, the end results can be disastrous. One of the most common ways to prevent this is by dosing the cider with preservatives that halt any fermentation- most commonly sulfites or sorbates. How do we prevent refermentation for City Roots? We carefully and cautiously filter our cider extra bright so there’s no yeast left in suspension. No preservatives, no problems.