Preventing and Treating Volatile Acidity (VA) in Cider

Last updated: 11/2023

Applies to: Cidermakers looking for strategies to prevent and treat volatile acidity in cider.


Acetic acid, a major contributor to volatile acidity (VA), is a naturally occurring compound that can impart a sharp, acidic taste to cider. This is why elevated VA is often referred to as “vinegar taint.” Beyond sensory impacts, acetic acid can be inhibitory to yeast at concentrations greater than 0.6 g/L and cause sluggish fermentations at concentrations greater than 0.8 g/L. Additionally, there are legal limitations in the United States for VA concentrations in cider, please see

Acetic acid is produced by various microorganisms including bacteria (acetic acid and lactic acid) and yeast at all production stages (fruit, fermentation, and aging). Therefore, diligent antimicrobial and sanitation practices throughout the cidermaking process are key to preventing volatile acidity.



EXPLANATIONRECOMMENDATION (product, dosage, notes)

Minimize time between processing and fermentation

Consider adding an antimicrobial agent

Juice is a nutrient-rich source that may be contaminated with spoilage organisms. These organisms can consume sugar, organic acids, and YAN and produce volatile acidityUse one of the following antimicrobial agents:
SO2: Potassium Metabisulfite
• Non-Saccharomyces yeast: INITIA
Employ good cleaning and sanitation practices in the cellarAppropriate procedures prevent the growth of microorganisms in tanks, hoses, equipment, barrels etc., to ensure spoilage is minimizedUse DESTAINEX LF to clean tanks and equipment
Run juice analysis, including VA (acetic acid) and malic acidAnalyzing juice gives a baseline. Proactive monitoring of VA levels throughout fermentation and storage helps to track trends and make data-based decisionsSend a sample to a service laboratory for analysis if
you do not have in-house abilities
Initiate fermentation using an appropriate strain of yeastBy quickly starting fermentation the indigenous microflora will be quickly suppressed minimizing their ability to produce VAUse one of the following to initiate alcoholic fermentation:
• Non-Saccharomyces yeast: BIODIVA™ (25 g/hL)
• Saccharomyces yeast: select strain based on cider
style (25 g/hL)
Employ a complete
fermentation nutrition plan

• Measure YAN
• Use a rehydration nutrient
• Use fermentation nutrients
Avoid yeast stress and potentially sluggish fermentations by
providing essential nutrients
Click here for assistance crafting a nutrition plan
(choosing nutrients, dosages, and timing of additions)
Minimize oxygen pickup in
the cellar
Elevated oxygen can accelerate growth of acetic acid bacteria and production of acetic acidKeep headspace to a minimum (except during active
fermentation) and blanket headspace with protective
gases (CO2, argon, or nitrogen) to minimize oxygen
contact with liquid
Control bacteria growth by
maintaining adequate cider
chemistry and by employing
appropriate antimicrobial
Acetic and lactic acid bacteria can metabolize many compounds in cider to produce VA.

Use one of the following methods to prevent microbial activity:

  • Use permitted acids to adjust cider pH and maintain
    adequate levels of SO2
  • Add BACTILESS and/or LYSOZYME (25g/hL) to
    control applicable bacteria populations.

Acetic acid bacteria growth can be suppressed at low temps and pHs, with moderate SO2 levels, or BACTILESS. Lactic acid bacteria growth can be suppressed at low temps and pHs, with moderate SO2 levels, BACTILESS, or LYSOZYME



EXPLANATIONRECOMMENDATION (product, dosage, notes)
Reverse osmosisThis is a membrane separation technique that allows undesirable molecules to be excluded based on molecular weightFor reverse osmosis providers see links here:
Blending with lower VA lotsBlending dilutes VAPlease note: this dilution technique can lower VA but may have impacts on aroma, texture, and stability. Before blending out a high VA lot, conduct trials. Once blending is complete, run a full chemical panel and assess microbial stability (via in-house methods or testing at an outside laboratory) to avoid potentially further spreading acetic acid bacteria.
Perform bench trials to
determine the most suitable
treatment for your cider
These products may help to mask volatile acidity and refresh aromas

Perform bench trials with some of the following tannins

or yeast derivative nutrients (add anytime before the end of