Apple cider is a simple fruit drink made from pressed apples, with minimal additives or processes. Because it is unfiltered, it still contains some of the apple pulp or sediment, giving it a cloudy appearance. Also known as sweet or soft cider, apple cider is a non-alcoholic drink, and should not be confused with the fermented apple drink generally referred to as cider outside of the USA. It has a shelf life of between 7 to 10 days, and may begin to ferment if left out of the fridge, due to its lack of preservatives.
What is apple juice?
Apple juice is a more processed form of apple drink, also made from pressed apples, but typically filtered and often with added sweeteners and preservatives. Because of this, it is transparent rather than cloudy, may be somewhat sweeter than cider, and has a much longer shelf life. Despite their differences, apple cider and apple juice are very similar drinks, and the two terms are often used interchangeably.
How is apple cider made?
Making apple cider involves minimal processing, but you will need a few pieces of equipment. Follow these steps for the perfect crisp, cloudy apple cider, or check out our guide to making apple cider using a slow cooker.
Step 01: Select your fruit
For a cider with a well-rounded flavour, use several different varieties of apple. Traditional cider apple varieties include Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady and Jonagold, but if you prefer a sharper flavour, you may wish to add some more acidic varieties like McIntosh, Cortland or Granny Smith.
Step 02: Prepare the fruit
Wash your apples thoroughly, then cut them into quarters, removing the core and stem.
Step 03: Mash
Place the apple pieces in a large pot, cover with water and boil until tender. Drain the pot and mash the apples until they are the consistency of applesauce.
Step 04: Press
Next, press the mashed apples to make juice. You can use a hand press juicer for smaller batches, or a hydraulic press if you’re making cider in bulk.
Step 05: Filter
Apple cider does not undergo an industrial filtering process, but you may want to remove the larger pieces of pulp when making it at home.
How is apple juice made?
Homemade apple juice also tends to be minimally processed, and so will be closer to apple cider than to many apple juices available to buy from stores. You can filter your juice through a piece of muslin to make it clearer, and add your own sweeteners and spices, but it will have a shorter shelf life.
Apple cider is fairly high in calories, most of which are sugars, although it does also provide a little fibre. It contains several vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C, along with antioxidant compounds called polyphenols.
Apple juice nutrition
1 cup of apple juice contains the following:
Of which fibre: 0.5g
Of which sugar: 24g
In fact, apple juice is nutritionally very similar to apple cider. Like cider, it contains potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C, and sometimes extra vitamin C is added during processing. It loses many of its polyphenols during filtering, however, and may only contain around half or even a quarter of the amount of these beneficial compounds as fresh apple cider.
Apple cider benefits
Many of the health benefits of apple cider come from its polyphenol content. As antioxidants, polyphenols help to prevent cell damage caused by harmful substances called oxidants, thus lowering the risk of several serious illnesses, including cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. In addition to this, apple cider is primarily made of water, which makes it a good source of hydration.
Apple juice benefits
Apple juice may also contain some polyphenols, but many are removed during filtration, so the antioxidant effect is not as strong. Like cider, apple juice is primarily water, so it too is a good source of hydration.
How to use apple cider
Cider can be paired with foods just like wine, with its authentic apple flavour matching well with a variety of different dishes.
Cider and apple pie creates a delicious layered apple flavour, while the crisp, clean taste of cider is great for cutting through the butteriness of the pastry.
Cinnamon sugar doughnuts
Sharp apple will cut through fatty or creamy flavours, and will brighten up the heaviness of the fried dough while blending beautifully with the cinnamon.
Apple and squash are the perfect sweet and savoury fall combination.
Cheese and apple are a classic combination, and the saltiness of blue cheese adds an extra dimension. A cider will go well with any dish that features blue cheese, or a simple plate of cheese and crackers.
Ginger also pairs well with apple, and you can try a glass of cider with homemade gingerbread, or ginger cake.
Creamy pasta dishes
Cider is delicious with creamy flavours, cutting through the richness of pasta sauces like carbonara and Alfredo.
How to use apple juice
Apple juice would also pair well with any of the dishes above, and you can even use it in cooking. A dash or two of apple juice adds that distinctive sweet, crisp flavour to all of these tasty dishes.
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