The Rise of Sustainable Apple Cider

Derek Ma Mar 23, 2024
13 People Read

Apple Cider has long been a beloved beverage, but as we become more aware of the environmental impact of our choices, it is crucial to consider the sustainability of the cider industry. 

Sustainable cider is not just a passing trend; it is a responsible approach towards preserving our planet for future generations.

In this blog post, we will explore the importance of sustainable cider production, the benefits it brings, and how consumers can make more informed choices to support this movement.

Sustainable Orcharding Practices

When it comes to producing sustainable cider, it all starts with the orcharding practices. 

Orchards play a crucial role in cider production, as they provide the apples needed for the fermentation process. 

However, not all orchards are created equal when it comes to sustainability. 

Sustainable orcharding practices focus on minimizing the environmental impact while maximizing the quality and yield of the apples. 

One important aspect of sustainable orcharding is the use of organic and natural fertilizers. 

Instead of relying on synthetic chemicals, sustainable orchards use compost, manure, and other organic materials to nourish the soil and promote healthy apple growth. 

This not only reduces the use of harmful chemicals but also improves the overall health of the orchard ecosystem. 

Additionally, sustainable orchards prioritize water conservation. 

By implementing efficient irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation, orchard owners can minimize water waste and ensure that the trees receive the necessary moisture without draining local water resources. 

Another key practice is biodiversity promotion. Sustainable orchards often include diverse plant species in their surroundings, attracting beneficial insects and birds that help control pests naturally. 

This reduces the need for chemical pesticides and promotes a balanced ecosystem. 

Lastly, sustainable orchards prioritize soil health and erosion prevention. 

Techniques such as cover cropping, mulching, and terracing are employed to prevent soil erosion and maintain its fertility, leading to healthier apple trees and higher-quality fruit. 

Overall, sustainable orcharding practices are essential for producing cider that is not only delicious but also environmentally-friendly.

Eco-Friendly Cider Making Process

The cider-making process, traditionally known for its energy-intensive and wasteful methods, has evolved to become more sustainable and environmentally conscious.

One of the key aspects of eco-friendly apple cider making is the use of organic apples. 

By choosing organic apples, farmers avoid the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals that can harm the environment and our health. 

These apples are grown in harmony with nature, promoting biodiversity and ensuring that the land remains fertile for future harvests.

In addition to using organic apples, sustainable cider makers prioritize energy efficiency. 

They utilize renewable resources and/or state-of-the-art equipment that minimizes energy consumption during the production process. 

This includes efficient apple crushers, presses, and fermentation tanks that require less electricity and water to operate. 

By reducing energy usage, these cider makers significantly decrease their carbon emissions and overall environmental impact.

Furthermore, waste management plays a vital role in sustainable cider production. 

Instead of discarding apple pomace, a byproduct of cider making, it can be repurposed for various uses. 

Some cider makers convert pomace into compost, which enriches the soil and reduces the need for artificial fertilizers. 

Others use it as livestock feed or turn it into apple-based products such as vinegar or apple brandy. 

By finding innovative ways to utilize waste, cider makers minimize landfill contributions and create a closed-loop system.

In summary, by choosing organic ingredients, prioritizing energy efficiency, and implementing waste management strategies, cider makers can produce a delicious product while minimizing their impact on the environment.

Packaging and Distribution of Sustainable Cider

Sustainable cider production goes beyond just crafting an environmentally friendly beverage.

It also involves considering the packaging and distribution methods to minimize the ecological footprint.

When it comes to packaging, sustainable cider producers prioritize using materials that are recyclable, biodegradable, or made from renewable resources. 

They opt for glass bottles or cans instead of plastic containers, as glass is easily recyclable and poses fewer risks to the environment. 

Additionally, they may choose to use labels and packaging materials made from recycled paper or other sustainable alternatives.

The distribution of sustainable cider is another crucial aspect to consider. 

One approach is to prioritize local distribution channels to reduce transportation emissions. 

By working with local retailers, restaurants, and farmers' markets, sustainable cider producers can minimize the distance their products need to travel and support the local economy.

In recent years, the concept of refillable containers has gained popularity among sustainable cider producers. 

This innovative approach allows consumers to purchase cider in reusable bottles and return them to be cleaned and refilled. 

By eliminating single-use packaging, this system significantly reduces waste and the need for continuous production of new containers.

In conclusion, sustainable cider production encompasses not only the crafting of the beverage itself but also the packaging and distribution methods. 

By prioritizing recyclable materials, local distribution channels, and refillable containers, sustainable cider producers strive to minimize their ecological footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Examples of Sustainable Cider Brands

Virtue Cider

1. Sea Cider Organic Cider

Located: Canada

Apples: Certified Organic in compliance with Canada’s National Organic Standard

Packaging: Bottles and cans

“Our organic practices focus on minimal intervention and prevention of disease and insect infestations through soil health and attentive tree maintenance. In particular, we maintain the health of our trees by encouraging and nourishing soil biodiversity and preventing soil erosion.”

2. Dunkertons Organic Cider

Located: England

Apples: Organic - Soil Association Certification

Packaging: Bottles and cans

“The orchards grow with minimum intervention from ourselves. Sheep graze and geese roam. We strip mow the orchards 1 or 2 times in the spring/summer as we like to keep the grass reasonably long away from the tree trunks to encourage pollinators and wildlife. We also have several beehives which are rotated around the orchards for pollination and supply honey for our Pembridge shop.”

3. Thatchers Cider

Located: England

Apples: Non-organic apples grown in hedgerow style 

Packaging: Glass bottles (use up to 77% recycled glass)

Renewable Energy: 3,000 solar panels on building, biomass boiler (using wood pruning from trees)

Pollinators: Bee Hives and wildflower strips throughout orchard

Apple Press: Reported water use reduction in cleaning apples and equipment.  Investing in systems for improved water recycling

4. Virtue Ciders

Location: Michigan

Apples: Non-organic

Packaging: Bottles and cans

Renewable Energy: 200 solar panels (61% of electrical use)

Pollinators: Pollinator habitat

Apple Press: Reported to use minimal electricity and water

Pomace byproduct: Given to local farmers for cattle feed, spread on property, and fed to own farm animals

“Our farm is environmentally verified through the state of Michigan. Which means our practices for water use, pollinator habitat, soil erosion and animal welfare get reviewed regularly. We have over 20 acres of grasslands that create a monarch waystation for our pollinators, which in turn help our neighbors and the wellbeing of our overall environment locally.”

Final Thoughts on Sustainable Ciders

In a world where climate change and environmental degradation are pressing issues, sustainable cider production offers a viable solution that aligns with the principles of a greener and more sustainable future. 

As consumers become increasingly conscious about the origin and impact of the products they consume, the demand for sustainable cider is likely to grow. 

Embracing sustainability in cider production is not only a responsible choice but also an opportunity for cider producers to differentiate themselves in a competitive market and cater to the evolving preferences of environmentally conscious consumers.