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The Difference Between Apple Juice and Apple Cider

When Autumn arrives, apples piled up on roadside stands and the lush greens of the summer trees shifting into a multicolored impressionist painting are the first indicators of cooler days and longer nights. This signals a return to the fruits of one of our favorite seasons, the humble apple and her countless varieties! Of course, this means a sudden flooding of the market with different apple delicacies. The classic American apple pie, delicious apple tarts, and apple scented candles will all make their rounds, but it is a simple glass of warm apple cider that will surely make you feel like fall has officially arrived. What exactly is apple cider, and how is it different from apple juice? We aim to explore these questions and more.


What’s the Difference Between Apple Juice and Apple Cider?

Well, it depends on who and where you are asking! The United States is the only place that considers the two to be different non-alcoholic drinks. Outside of the United States, apple cider is what we would call “hard cider” or “spiked cider” in America.

Here in the US though, apple cider is simply the juice of picked, washed, ground up, and pressed apples. The apple cider is unpasteurized and should be consumed rather quickly, making it a delicious fall treat that many families wait for year-round. Apple juice on the other hand is the pasteurized, shelf-stable juice you will find on supermarket shelves. Apple juice starts out as cider, but it is concentrated into a syrup or powder, then reconstituted with water, and pasteurized to make the golden brown juice you are probably more familiar with. Some companies, like Martinelli’s, explicitly admit that there is no difference between their apple juice or apple cider products, but they market them differently to appeal to different audiences.

Massachusetts has the strictest definition for apple cider of all the states. Cider is defined explicitly by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources as “raw apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process to remove coarse particles of pulp or sediment” while apple juice is “juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer.”

Apple juice is typically made from concentrate, and it usually has added sugars. Apple cider usually only has the natural sugars from the apples, not the added sugars you are likely to find in grocery store apple juices. There is a caveat here however, as the apple ciders you may find to be commercially available may have added sugars or other additives to keep it fresher for longer. Read the labels on your products so you know you are getting exactly what you want!


Hot Apple Cider

In America, hot apple cider is one of the greatest joys of the cooler months of fall, with this fresh-pressed juice made fancier through the addition of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel and ginger. This spiced drink definitely causes a ruckus in fair circuits, with some places like the Bloomsburg, PA fair having stands dedicated only to the sale of apple cider. This is not surprising, as it takes nearly a third of a bushel of apples to make a single gallon of cider, and it is a very labor intensive process, too! Hot cider tends to have a nostalgia factor attached to it, and many people associate cozy childhood memories with this delicious drink, making it even more homey and the perfect beacon of fall.


How is Hard Cider made?

Apples are washed, cored, and then chopped into pieces or thrown into a grinder to be turned into mash. This mash is wrapped up in a cloth and pressed, producing the unfiltered apple cider we know and love. At this point, some manufacturers add mulling spices to enhance the flavors of the drink. After a few days, the cider will begin to ferment and become fizzy and alcoholic. Cider can be aged for up to a year, though it will never be an extremely potent alcohol. Commercial hard ciders are usually aged for only a week to a month, then filtered, carbonated, and bottled for sale.


How Did Apple Cider Influence the $1 Bill?

An interesting story of how our nation was shaped by a drink, apple cider helped launch George Washington’s political career. When he initially ran for Virgina’s House of Burgesses in 1755, he lost the election in a landslide vote. The next time he ran, a short 3 years later, he took with him barrels of hard apple cider, swaying votes his way with the gift of generous pours of the alcoholic beverage in the glasses of all the voters he could talk to. By the end of his campaign, he had served roughly 144 gallons of libations, with hard cider being the number one drink of choice. After his win, he was the talk of the town and 31 years later, he became the first President of the United States, a position for which he was elected unanimously. Without hard cider, the course of history would have probably been quite different and our $1 bill may very well have had a different face on it!


How do I Make Apple Cider Floats?

For a fun fall treat, gather up some tall mugs, vanilla ice cream, chilled apple cider, ginger ale, and caramel sauce. Add 4 oz of apple cider to each mug, then add 4oz of ginger ale! Put one or two scoops of vanilla ice cream on top, depending on how tall your mugs are, and then drizzle with caramel sauce. Add a slice of green apple for a garnish if you’d like! As an added level of opulence, you could chill the mugs before you prep the floats for an extra chilly, autumnal experience.


Which Tastes Better- Apple Juice or Apple Cider?

Unfortunately this isn’t something we can answer, as it is a matter of personal taste! Whichever you choose to drink, whether it be apple cider, hard cider, apple juice from concentrate, or fresh apple juice, it will taste great.

With all this information about apple juice and apple cider at the forefront of your brain, maybe tonight you will go to an apple orchard and pick some of this iconic autumnal fruit. Have a glass of cider, American or otherwise, for us!


Read More

15 Apples We Love Down to Our Cores
11 Ways Hard Cider Shaped American History
7 Fall Fruits You Don’t Want to Miss?
Pumpkin vs Apple: The Fall Throwdown

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