Apple Cider vs. Apple Juice: Can You Tell The Difference

If you spend time at a fall fair, you'll notice that apples are a staple. There's just something about having a refreshing glass of apple juice to keep you going on a long day out and about in fall. And when it's sweater weather, what could be better than a delicious hot apple cider to warm you from the inside?

Which one will tantalize your taste buds with a sweet or tart but refreshing treat? Henry David Thoreau said, "Surely the apple is the noblest of fruits." And we think he was right - apples are delicious in so many ways.

You can do so many things with these incredibly versatile fruits, and juice and cider are just two of them.

Exploring cider vs. juice

The production process is the main difference between apple juice and apple cider.

How is apple cider made in comparison to juice? You may think it's the same kind of process, but there are some significant differences!

  • To make cider, you pick apples and then press them raw. Cider is a fresh product and mostly does not contain preservatives or other additives. It usually turns out dark and cloudy and has a tart taste because it also does not contain added sweeteners. 
  • Apple juice is filtered and pasteurized to lengthen its shelf life. The pulp is removed, and the end product is clear, light in color, and usually sweeter than cider. Some juices are sweetened.
  • Apple juice is mass-produced and easy to find at most grocery stores, whereas cider is mostly available at orchards and markets.

What is apple cider good for?

  • Cider is more balanced, more tart, and is usually more natural. This means it's perfect for baking and cooking.
  • It contains pectin, a natural thickener, so it's excellent for jams and adding gloss and body to sauces. 
  • Because cider is not pasteurized, it should be kept cool and consumed or used in a week or two. If not, it will begin to ferment, and you could end up with an alcoholic drink!

It's important to note that apple cider juice benefits are similar to those of apple juice, and it's more natural!

How about apple juice?

  • Apple juice makes a refreshing drink and can be useful for rehydrating people who are sick.
  • It contains disease-fighting compounds along with anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve asthma.
  • You can also use it to sweeten veggie juices to make them more palatable.

Apple season is awesome!

Apple juice is usually available all-year-round at grocery stores. But, bear in mind, this is the preserved version of it.

To get the best-tasting, freshly pressed apple juice, you'll have to wait until fall, when it's apple season. 

And when it comes to apple cider, fall is synonymous with the freshest cider money can buy. Or, even better, visit an orchard to get a fresh bushel of apples and make your own!

Making cider and juice at home

Can you make apple cider and juice it at home? Absolutely! 

  • Making apple juice is a bit more challenging because you have to filter and strain it to get it clear.
  • Apple cider is slightly easier to make because it doesn't require that much processing. 

For both beverages, you need large quantities of fruit. And if you have a whole bunch of apples to peel, don't forget that an apple slicer and peeler can make light work of many apples.

Check out this handy article on how to use an apple peeler and slicer if you have any questions!

Is apple cider alcoholic?

If you ask anyone who lives in the UK or Ireland - What is cider?, they will tell you that it's an alcoholic drink made out of apples.

In North America, this product is known as hard cider.

Ordinary cider is non-alcoholic on that side of the world. 

Using apple beverages in recipes

So many delicious recipes call for cider or juice. You can always substitute juice with cider in a recipe. This could even give your end product a more intricate flavor profile.

However, when it comes to a recipe calling for cider, just make sure the juice you use is not sweetened. 

No contest needed between apple cider and apple juice

As Ned Flanders of The Simpsons said, "If it's clear and yella', you got juice there fella', if it's tangy and brown, you're in cider town."

Some companies sell the same product as both apple cider and apple juice - they simply change the label to cater to all preferences.

When it comes to choosing between apple juice vs. cider - it's up to you.

No matter what form or color you prefer your apples to be or how they're labeled, apples are delicious, and they pack a nutritious punch. 

So, go ahead and have them in juice or cider form, baked in a pie, or sliced and eaten raw - it's all good!