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What’s the Difference Between Apple Cider and Apple Juice

A glass bottle of apple cider is surrounded by apples.

Whether it’s apple cider or apple juice, it’s all just apples, right? Then why do the two taste different? As it turns out, these two fall drinks are very similar, but there’s one important way they’re unlike.

Apple juice and apple cider are different because of the amount of processing each receives.

Arguably, apple cider is the more autumnal drink for many, but that’s not because it’s got some special fall spices or additional ingredients. It’s because the beverage is pure, unfiltered apple juice that hasn’t gone through a pasteurization process to make it smooth and sweet.

When making cider, apples are washed, cut, and macerated into an applesauce-like mash. The mash is then wrapped in cloth and placed on racks where a press is used to squeeze (or press) the juice out of the mash. This means that some sediment comes through during the process giving cider its less opaque appearance. It’s then bottled and sold—quickly, though, as it has a short shelf-life due to the lack of processing.

As for apple juice, the process isn’t dissimilar. Apples are washed, cut, and mashed. Then, they’re pressed just like cider. However, the ending juice is taken through a filtration process to remove any solids or sediment and then pasteurized to increase shelf life. This gives it the smooth, sweet experience you expect.

The next time you’re in the mood for some cider, you’ll know you’re essentially drinking pure, delicious apple juice.

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