Apple juice and apple cider are both 100% apple juice squeezed, or pressed, from apples and in many ways are the same when pressed for the first time. In some jurisdictions, especially outside of North America, apple cider is unpasteurized and is usually sold at an alcohol content. Apple juice, on the other hand, goes through more processing and is almost always pasteurized and therefore does not ferment or develop any alcohol content.
Apple cider vinegar is a year round product.
There is a substantial year-round market in the United States and Canada for apple juice and apple cider, but the cider product enjoys particular popularity in the holiday season that begins with Thanksgiving, the traditional harvest festival days. Stores will increase their stocks of apple cider during this period to meet increased demand, and special recipes for cider-based drinks such as hot cider will be featured. Another popular variation on apple cider is a non-alcoholic carbonated drink called sparkling cider, which is often served as a substitute for champagne. There’s also a small but vibrant market for apple cider vinegar, open year-round.
Apple cider is not pasteurized and is usually sold in orchards.
In the United States and Canada, growers are required to process apple juice and apple cider to extend their shelf life and destroy any disease-causing organisms such as E. coli. To achieve these goals, most producers use pasteurization, a method of heating liquids that destroys these pathogens; it also destroys the bacteria that convert natural sugars into alcohol. This is why the juice and cider sold in American and Canadian supermarkets do not ferment. The only exception is when producers sell directly to consumers, such as an apple orchard that presses and sells pitchers of cider on its premises or at roadside stalls; when this cider ferments, it is called hard cider.
Apple juice had all particles, pectin and starches removed.
The first stage of production in the United States and Canada is the same for apple juice and apple cider. Ripe apples are crushed and the juice extracted through a sieve and placed in a vat. This juice is brown and opaque with tiny apple particles suspended in the liquid; if sold as apple cider, it may not be subject to any additional filtration. If sold as apple juice, it will undergo additional filtering and processing to remove all apple particles, pectin and starches. This clarified juice is clear and lighter in color. Most large producers blend juices and ciders from different apple species to obtain a uniform flavor.
Outside the United States and Canada, apple juice is produced in the same way and is usually sold as apple juice or sweet cider. Apple cider, on the other hand, is produced to ferment and develop an alcohol content, just like wine. Some growers allow the apples to start to rot, so the fermentation process begins before the apples are pressed. There is a large market for cider in Europe, with many different varieties available.