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Apple Juice vs. Apple Cider: The Big Difference Between Two Classic Drinks

  • 7 min reading time
Apple Juice vs. Apple Cider: The Big Difference Between Two Classic Drinks

Apple juice and apple cider. They’re both drinks made from apples, right? 

Well, not exactly. 

You’ve probably enjoyed each of these apple drinks at some point in your life. As a child you may have enjoyed sweet apple juice out of a sippy cup at breakfast. And apple cider may give you fond memories of a crisp autumn day at the fair with a cider donut. 

Apple juice and apple cider may seem like they’re both made from fresh apples. But each drink is made very differently. 

Here in Vermont  we prefer apple cider any day. It’s one of those classic local drinks we were all raised on. It’s flavorful, refreshing and, most importantly, 100% fresh juice.

But apple juice is juice too, isn’t it? That’s where it gets confusing. Because it’s not the same quality of fresh-pressed juice as cider. 

Apple juice is made from concentrate, a lower quality version of an apple’s juice that doesn’t deliver the same robust apple flavor as cider.

The best way to get to know each drink is to sample a glass of apple juice vs. apple cider. You’ll taste the difference right away. And we think we’ll know which one you like best. 

We’ll always choose apple cider. It’s the most natural representation of the apple harvest...and we love apples. There’s no need to mess with them.

So what’s the difference between apple juice and apple cider? Let’s clear things up.  

How Apple Juice Is Made

Apple juice may start out like apple cider, but some changes happen to the liquid along the way. 

Apple juice begins with - you guessed it - the juice of apples. But after the apples are juiced, the water content is removed to create an apple concentrate. The natural pectins and fiber are also filtered out from the juice in this process.

Concentrate has less volume than juice, making it a convenient way to store the apple flavors until it’s time to drink them. It’s less costly than storing and refrigerating fresh juice year-round. 

And apple concentrates are rarely made with local apples. It’s common for the concentrate in American apple juice to come from overseas. 

The use of apple concentrate is a strategic business decision. But what it gains in efficiency, it lacks in quality.

When it’s time to make apple juice, the producers add water to the apple concentrate to create the final product. Artificial flavors, artificial colorings, sugar, corn syrup, and a bunch of preservatives are also added.

It’s called juice, but the end product is very different from the fresh juice of an apple. Apple juice is diluted and modified leading up to the bottling process. 

You can tell by looking at the clear apple juice liquid that there’s a lot of water. The first ingredient in a jar of Mott’s Apple juice is water, not juice. (The other two ingredients are apple concentrate and ascorbic acid.) 

Before it's bottled, the apple juice is also pasteurized at a high temperature to make the liquid shelf-stable. Ever notice how apple juice is on the grocery store shelf while the apple cider is in the refrigerator? You don’t have to refrigerate your apple juice because of this pasteurization. 

We get why kids love this stuff. Apple juice is sweet! It’s more like liquid candy than fresh juice, making it irresistible. But that same 8 oz. bottle of Mott’s Apple Juice comes with a whopping 28 grams of sugar.

Apple juice isn’t the most nutritious (or even tasty) drink for kids. This so-called “juice” barely resembles that freshly pressed juicy apple goodness. 

If you’re looking for that, you’ll need a glass of apple cider. 

How Apple Cider is Made

Apple cider is 100% fresh squeezed apples. It’s the real deal. There is nothing added and nothing taken away. Just pure juice, squeezed from the apple. 

And it’s not made from any old apples. Apple cider is made here in the United States from local apples at local orchards. American grown apples don’t travel as far and maintain their rich flavor. And making fresh apple cider with local apples also supports our local economies.

We make our fresh cider at the Cider Mill with local apples from the Champlain Valley. They arrive from both Vermont and New York, ready to get pressed into fresh juice. 

We use a classic rack and cloth apple press to make Cold Hollow cider. If you  come to watch us press apples, you’ll see that it’s pretty simple. 

First, we take an apple mash and layer it on the cider press. The mash contains all the parts of an apple: the skins, the seeds, the stems, and the crunchy fruit. 

We make fresh cider with the entire apple. So the cider includes all the nutritional benefits of a whole apple, like the natural fiber and polyphenols found in the apple skin. Unlike apple juice, we don’t filter out the natural pectins either.

Once we layer this well-rounded apple mash on our cider press, it’s time for it to get pressed! 

When we apply pressure on the cider press the natural juices start flowing from the apples. We squeeze every last drop of sweet apple nectar, capturing the delicious juice in a catch basin. The liquid flows from here into a refrigeration tank and gets stored for bottling.

And that’s about it. We take fresh local apples, grind them into a mash, and press the mash into fresh juice. Just 100% fresh pressed apples - nothing more, nothing less. 

Of course, we then take the time to bottle the cider up for you. It’s also flash pasteurized for safety reasons, but at a lower temperature than apple juice that doesn’t impact the flavor.      

Apple cider is perishable and needs to be kept in the refrigerator. That’s because the apple’s natural goodness will only last so long. Cider is best enjoyed fresh!

Our apple cider has a shelf life of about six weeks. In the fall, we’re making fresh apple cider several times a week to keep a supply of fresh cider available for everyone. 

Whether you’re enjoying apple cider on its own or with a slice of pie, it’s sure to be a hit. 

Grab a Glass of Vermont Apple Cider

Apple juice is no comparison to apple cider. Nothing beats the pure flavor of 100% fresh-pressed apples. Especially when the cider is made with local Champlain Valley apples. 

The more apple cider you drink, the less you’ll start to crave a glass of apple juice. The winner is clear. If you love apples, you should drink apple cider.

And apple cider is more than a traditional autumn beverage. 

Cider is a true celebration of the apple fruit that should be enjoyed all year round. It’s that good - why limit ourselves to drinking apple cider only during the fall? 

When you enjoy our half-gallon  apple cider, you’re getting the best taste of Champlain Valley apples. And if you want to pair it with  apple cider donuts or  cheddar cheese, we support you. 

As long as you’re sipping apple cider, it’s bound to be a great day.

Still Hungry? Check out some of our other articles!

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