Back before global warming had completely ravaged the planet, there was this thing called autumn that happened every year between summer and winter. And there is perhaps no fall tradition more iconic or delightful than going to a pumpkin patch. Of course, a pumpkin patch is never just a pumpkin patch. Recognizing the city folk dollars to be made, pumpkin patch proprietors often turn their farm into a full blown fall entertainment extravaganza, featuring corn mazes, petting zoos, pig races, haunted houses, carnival rides, pies, caramel and candy apples, and, of course, apple cider, the true king of fall beverages.
I’ve always loved apple cider. But weirdly, I don’t really like apple juice. How can this be? What is the difference between apple juice and apple cider? Is there a difference when it comes to apple juice vs cider, or is it simply the rustic setting that makes it taste different? Let’s get to the core of the issue (sorry).
Both apple cider and apple juice are both beverages made from apples. This we know. However, apple cider is essentially just made from pressed apples. It is unpasteurized and does not contain added sugar. Apple juice, on the other hand, is much more processed and sweeter due to its added sugars.
Seems simple enough, right? Well, not quite. For example, the Massachusetts Department Of Agricultural Resources says “Fresh cider is raw apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process to remove coarse particles of pulp or sediment …. Apple juice is juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer.” However, Martinelli’s admits that their “apple juice and cider are the same; the only difference is the label …. some consumers simply prefer the traditional name for apple juice.”
Clearly, if you’ve experienced some confusion about apple juice vs apple cider, it’s understandable. It seems that unless you’re a state agricultural organization, cider and juice are in the eye of the beholder. That being said, those who have plucked up the energy to get into their car and drive to a pumpkin patch, brave the haunted house and the pig race, and go up to the counter for a carton of apple cider know the true difference. Unprocessed, opaque, and with a little bit of sediment at the bottom, this is the platonic ideal of cider. And for those wishing to sample it, be careful, its shelf life is way shorter than apple juice, so drink it quick or you will end up with some apple cider vinegar on your hands.