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apple juice vs. cider

Michelly Nov 15, 2013 08:23 AM

Ok...apple juice vs. [non-alcoholic] apple cider: what is the technical difference?

  1. t
    treb Nov 15, 2013 08:36 AM

    Most cider is not filtered and some aren't pasteurized either.

    3 Replies
    1. re: treb
      pinehurst Nov 15, 2013 08:42 AM

      I'd only add that largely because of what treb mentioned, apple cider isn't shelf stable and needs to be in the fridge, even when unopened.

      1. re: treb
        rainey Nov 15, 2013 03:04 PM

        I grew up in an apple producing area that had GREAT cider and I'd agree that cider is unfiltered and, if you're lucky, unpasteurized. It's what's squeezed directly from fresh apples in a press.

        TJs doesn't agree. Now that I live n Los Angeles the closest I can get to the cider I remember and crave still is their apple "juice" from the refrigerated case. So maybe the distinction isn't so clear anymore.

        Look for cloudy liquid with, possibly, some residue of apple solids and as little else as possible listed in the ingredients. But if you can get to a cider producing region and get the stuff that comes from the spigot do it! It should taste like apple pie with a crisp tang.

        1. re: treb
          Michelly Nov 20, 2013 08:47 AM

          But I've seen "unfiltered apple juice".

        2. mels Nov 15, 2013 08:44 AM

          The local cider I get is not pasteurized and it is delicious. I could live without its bland cousin, apple juice.

          Simply put, fresh cider is mashed up apples, pressed to squeeze out the juice, then bottled up, sediment and all. Apple juice is filtered to remove sediments and pasteurized, hence it being rather clear (not cloudy with sediment like cider).

          1. h
            HillJ Nov 15, 2013 12:08 PM

            Apple juice is sweet or unsweetened water with a splash of apple flavor (the real stuff only if you can find it)
            Cider keeps the full character of apples in tact.

            26 Replies
            1. re: HillJ
              cayjohan Nov 15, 2013 12:43 PM

              "the full character of the apples"

              THAT to me is what distinguishes cider over apple juice, absolutely. And it's especially noticeable with single varietals (is that even a term we use with cider, or am I being silly/pretentious/babbling?). We've just polished off a jug of SweeTango cider from a local orchard, and it was sensational. The flavor of that specific apple came through beautifully. I'm so happy we have a few gallons in the freezer!

              To me, apple juice just tastes of sweet with a nondescript apple flavor. I don't actively *dislike* apple juice, but to me cider tops it every time, flavor-wise. Particularly because of the single varietal issue.

              1. re: cayjohan
                HillJ Nov 15, 2013 12:46 PM

                The NJ farm folks I know make apple wines every year so I think your description is spot on and would make those folks very happy.

                I use apple juice NOT from concentrate only and then only in place of water called for in recipes. If I want a glass of apple goodness, grabbing cider!

                1. re: HillJ
                  Ttrockwood Nov 15, 2013 04:52 PM

                  Um- whoah- what?!?
                  Apple wine?!!!!
                  What's the name of these awesome people- and do you know if its sold in nyc?

                  1. re: Ttrockwood
                    HillJ Nov 15, 2013 05:57 PM


                    Give them a call, Tt.

                    Sadie's Apple is another one.

                    1. re: HillJ
                      HillJ Nov 15, 2013 06:04 PM


                      I have this one in the cooler right now. A spiced apple wine. I really like it on its own, mulled and in martini.

                      1. re: HillJ
                        The Professor Nov 16, 2013 06:08 PM

                        Four Sisters is great...been there many times!

                    2. re: HillJ
                      Raffles Dec 10, 2013 11:54 AM

                      Apple wine is a high alcohol hard cider made by adding extra sugars to the must to up the alcohol from around 5% up to 15% or more.

                      1. re: Raffles
                        HillJ Dec 10, 2013 11:55 AM

                        I love apple wine. All fruit wines, ice cold. Ice wine too. We have a # of suppliers in NJ but the best prices I've encountered were in Canada.

                    3. re: cayjohan
                      Raffles Dec 10, 2013 11:55 AM

                      We just had Honey Crisp cider and it was wonderful, best I had in years.

                    4. re: HillJ
                      gaffk Nov 15, 2013 01:29 PM

                      Exactly! I bought a 6-pack of apple juice months ago and I think there's still 4 bottles left. My gallon of local PA cider (which I am enjoying as I write) is almost gone after only a few days--it's just like drinking an ice-cold apple. I love apple cider season!

                      1. re: gaffk
                        HillJ Nov 15, 2013 01:36 PM

                        Ever make apple cider caramels?

                        1. re: HillJ
                          gaffk Nov 15, 2013 01:46 PM

                          Never even heard of such a thing. Do tell.

                          1. re: gaffk
                            HillJ Nov 15, 2013 02:35 PM

                            So good, the cider really comes through. I subscribe to Imbibe magazine but this is a recipe Smitten K adapted.


                            1. re: HillJ
                              gaffk Nov 15, 2013 02:45 PM

                              Wow, I just bookmarked that recipe. I think I know what I'm making for Thanksgiving. (I live in a household of 2 and there's no way I'm making 64 caramels without a destination ;)

                              Thanks HillJ!

                              1. re: gaffk
                                HillJ Nov 15, 2013 02:46 PM

                                Oh my pleasure. They really are wonderful and a great way to enjoy cider.

                                1. re: gaffk
                                  HillJ Nov 15, 2013 02:48 PM

                                  you can freeze them..just in case too many caramels fill your household.

                                  1. re: HillJ
                                    gaffk Nov 15, 2013 02:53 PM

                                    You obviously overestimate my willpower.

                                    1. re: gaffk
                                      HillJ Nov 15, 2013 03:01 PM

                                      ROFL. You could just cut the squares bigger and it is a fruit based product after all!

                                      1. re: HillJ
                                        HillJ Nov 15, 2013 03:02 PM

                                        oh the addition of a little apple brandy works well too if you want a softer caramel.

                                        1. re: HillJ
                                          gaffk Nov 15, 2013 03:11 PM

                                          Yeah . . .fruit-based . . . with a stick of butter . . . a cup of sugar . . . heavy cream. Probably not what my doctor meant when he said to eat more fruit.

                                          1. re: gaffk
                                            HillJ Nov 15, 2013 03:15 PM

                                            Oh bring him a few pieces and then decide :)

                                  2. re: HillJ
                                    chefathome Nov 15, 2013 03:57 PM

                                    Cider caramel gastrique is wonderful on pork. I must take it a bit further and make caramels.

                                    1. re: HillJ
                                      ksbee Dec 10, 2013 07:25 AM

                                      Thank you so much for posting this HillJ. I just made a batch for my Christmas goodies, and they are incredible! So hard to keep them all waiting in little baggies to give out to my friends - I want to eat them all.

                                      1. re: ksbee
                                        HillJ Dec 10, 2013 07:49 AM

                                        Awesome! They are incredible my version of fudge and def. my preference over fudge. Easy as all get out.

                                        1. re: HillJ
                                          gaffk Dec 10, 2013 08:26 AM

                                          Oooops, I forgot to follow up--these were devoured at Thanksgiving. I have a fresh jug of cider chilling in my garage just waiting to make a fresh batch for Christmas.

                                          Thanks again HillJ!

                                          1. re: gaffk
                                            HillJ Dec 10, 2013 11:03 AM

                                            Oh good for you, gaffk. I'm so glad my suggestion is going over well for fellow CH's.

                            2. kaleokahu Nov 15, 2013 03:46 PM

                              Hi, Michelly:

                              The American convention is that cider is of two types: (a) sweet, a/k/a unfermented; and (b) hard, a/k/a fermented.

                              IMO, apple juice and sweet cider are names for the same thing, at least at the squeezin'. In the marketplace, however, they divurge with processing, additives and preservatives. When I become Emperor, there will be nothing called cider that has any ingredient other than the apple, its water and what comes naturally with them.

                              Trying to go much further than this is like going down a rabbit hole. I've made a lot of hard cider, much of which was flash pasteurized *before* pitching just to manage the fermentation. Is it cider? Yeah, I think. But what about additives to stop fermentation before the juice goes bone dry? Or Chaptalizing to get the Brix up? Is it still cider if you filter, fine or use the Methode Champagnoise to clear it? How about adding a little CO2 for spritz and sparkle? How about a little artificial flavor or color? A little HFCS maybe?

                              My rule of thumb is that the fresher, purer, colder and cloudier the beverage, the more I'm likely to call it "cider". But follow the rabbithole wherever it leads you...


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                Michelly Nov 20, 2013 08:51 AM

                                Thanks, Kaleo!

                                As I replied earlier, I've seen unfiltered apple juice, like Martinelli's (I'm going to the store today, and will check the ingredient list).

                              2. f
                                Florida Hound Nov 16, 2013 05:56 PM

                                A year or 2 ago, a similar Chowhound discussion came up and I innocently mentioned I was excited that fresh apple cider was again seasonally showing up in the supermarket, I was quickly scolded by at least one Chowhound who said the mass marketed cider was pasteurized, and that seemed to equal such poor quality, not even worth considering. Their comments probably were not as harsh as I remember.
                                Fast forward to a trip to east Tennessee about 3 weeks ago, and I ran across unpasteurized apple cider in a cooler at the Apple Barn, Sevierville. I did a double-take, to make sure I wasn't seeing the Hope Diamond or something. I was very frustrated that we were traveling by car, did not have any way to preserve the goods if we were to buy it. So I thought quickly of the old back-and-forth on Chowhound, and just had to think, I came so close! And we drove on.
                                Pasteurized apple cider will have to do it for me until next time when we might find room to pack a good quality cooler on our travels.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Florida Hound
                                  The Professor Nov 16, 2013 06:11 PM

                                  Glad you found some unpasteurized cider, But to be clear, if you ever come across _cold pasteurized_ cider, which many cider producers are now doing, don't hesitate to grabsome. It is not sublected to heat, so it comes out of the process tasting no different than unpasteurized.

                                  1. re: The Professor
                                    Clams047 Dec 10, 2013 09:12 AM

                                    Sorry to differ, but unpasteurized cider is to cold pasteurized as cold press is to apple juice. A world of difference.

                                  2. re: Florida Hound
                                    mdzehnder Dec 3, 2013 10:17 AM

                                    No need for a cooler--just keep it out of direct sunlight and intense heat. The worst that might happen after several days of non-refrigeration is that the cider will begin to ferment--and it tastes better that way!

                                    1. re: mdzehnder
                                      Florida Hound Dec 3, 2013 05:00 PM

                                      Now ya tell me!

                                      1. re: mdzehnder
                                        Clams047 Dec 10, 2013 09:14 AM

                                        Only if you prefer a rancid vinegar taste to your cider.

                                        1. re: mdzehnder
                                          Raffles Dec 10, 2013 11:51 AM

                                          If you let it ferment that way you are relying on a crap shoot of wild yeasts that may or may not produce a drinkable hard cider.

                                      2. c
                                        Clams047 Dec 10, 2013 09:08 AM

                                        If you have to ask, it's obvious that you've never had real cider (unpasturized).

                                        (IMO, apple juice is simply sugar water.)

                                        1. h
                                          Harters Dec 10, 2013 11:11 AM

                                          It's a question I always have to ask about when I visit America.

                                          Where i am in the world, cider is always alcoholic - and I don't drink alcohol. When I first visited America, years ago, I would never order cider but, of course, would order apple juice.Now, I know there can be alcoholic and non-alcoholic cider, so I know always to ask. Although, generally speaking, I can't be arsed to, so just order something "safe".

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Harters
                                            gaffk Dec 10, 2013 11:18 AM

                                            In my region of the US, menus list the non-alcoholic version as "cider" and the alcoholic version as "hard cider." I'm a big fan of the former, not so much the latter. Also, apple cider is usually only available in the Fall, but hard cider is year-round.

                                            1. re: gaffk
                                              HillJ Dec 10, 2013 11:19 AM

                                              And just to be a bit of a stinker here, you can make those caramels with hard cider :)

                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                gaffk Dec 10, 2013 11:24 AM

                                                No way . . . my family is boisterous enough without adding alcohol to the candy.

                                                1. re: gaffk
                                                  HillJ Dec 10, 2013 11:24 AM

                                                  Alcohol cooks out. The caramel is just much richer in flavor.

                                              2. re: gaffk
                                                Clams047 Dec 10, 2013 01:19 PM

                                                Soon after I was first married many years ago, we visited my parents in CT and we dropped into a local cider mill for a typical New England fall treat.

                                                My wife (from MS) was hesitant being under the belief it was going to be hard cider. Her comment - "It just tastes like apples".

                                                Hmm - It's been a running joke for many years. Of course, we never drink apple juice and now that we've moved back to New England, only unpasteurized will do....because........it just tastes like apples..

                                            2. r
                                              Raffles Dec 10, 2013 11:36 AM

                                              Sweet apple cider is just mashed and squeezed apples. It may be pasteurized with heat(not so good for flavor) or by UV light(better). Unpasteurized cider can only be found at the cider mill and there it is rare because of the threat of lawsuits resulting from food poisoning.
                                              That is according to the mill where I buy my sweet cider here in the Finger Lakes of NY.
                                              Sweet cider can be treated with preservatives such as potassium sorbate ,etc. Once treated with these preservative the sweet cider can't be used to make hard cider as the yeasts will not grow. My mill sells untreated UV treated at the mill. They add preservatives to the sweet cider market at area stores.
                                              We use the mills untreated to make Hard Cider.

                                              Apple juice is processed,strained, adulterated ,and filtered much more. No way they are going to get the juice so clear without additives,processes ,or filtering.

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