Is Hard Cider Paleo?

Unlike mezcal it goes great with turkey

It’s that time of year. Your imbibing rotation consisting of paleo friendly beverages such as wine, mead, and mezcal (tequila and turkey?) needs a new friend and some fermented apple cider is knocking at your door. Should you let him in? Let’s see.

Hard cider really is quite simple at its core: apple juice, yeast and sugar usually in the form of brown sugar or honey. Sounds paleo to me. The problem is of course that commercially made ciders may go through some un-primal pasteurization processes and have additional sugars or preservatives that may push it over the edge of primality.

So let’s take a look at what to watch out for when selecting a hard cider:

  • Is it pasteurized? Heat pasteurization will kill off bacteria and yeasts that will ultimately alter the flavor of the cider. Try to find a cider that is “cold pasteurized” using UV light rather than heat.
  • Are there preservatives like potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate? Commercial brewers will probably add preservatives to extend their shelf life but also kills any yeast. Sodium benzoate, under the right conditions, can produce benzene which is a known carcinogen. Potassium sorbate can cause migraines and allergic reactions.
  • How much added sugar is there? All ciders are not created equal in terms of sugar content. Let’s take Woodchuck as an example. Their Granny Smith cider has 11 grams of sugar whereas the Pear cider has 18 grams. Strongbow’s dry cider has only 9 grams.
  • Are the apple’s organic/pesticide free? If it’s commercially made, then chances are that the apples were commercially farmed with modern pesticides.

You could always brew your own cider from locally farmed organic apples and juices. There’s a great article here that I would like to try out as I live in Johnny Appleseed country and will probably be going to an apple tree farm at some point this autumn.

So is hard cider paleo? Yep, but look for cold pasteurized, non preservative, minimal sugar added, organic cider. What do you think? Did I miss something? What’s your favorite hard cider for the season?

Do you want to find out if other foods are paleo? Check out the Is It Paleo app that fellow blogger and chiropractor Cole Bradburn and I have developed.

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3 thoughts on “Is Hard Cider Paleo?

  1. Can hard cider be technically paleo? Probably, but is it a healthy choice? No. If you are going to drink something with empty sugar calories and alcohol then I don’t think it matters if it is a hard cider or a rum and coke. Apples are already one of the least nutritious fruits. When you turn apples into cider you remove all the fiber which is one of the few things apples have going for them, so cider is pretty much just sugar water. If you want to indulge in a delicious drink then go for it and drink some hard cider but I don’t think it is in the spirit of paleo even if it passes technically. I also think that any “paleo” baked goods are no good and should be avoided. Just cause it is made with honey doesn’t make the sugar calories any less empty or the insulin spike and smaller.

    • Wayne,
      Thanks for the comment. I don’t disagree with you a bit. Is any alcohol consumption really healthy? Probably not. Do some people want to partake in a little drinking every once in a while? Probably. Would I choose a hard cider over a glutinous beer? Yes. I would also choose wine over Meade over cider. My point is that if you are going to consume alcohol there is probably a hierarchy in paleo-friendliness. Extreme moderation is key though.

  2. I love the hard cider trend that is going on in America right now, it keeps my husband away from beer during Sunday football. Personally, I can’t stand the stuff, but for someone who is a devoted beer drinker it is a nice gluten-free change of pace

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