[no_toc]Ever go to the local grocery store or farmers market and see apple juice, apple cider, and/or apple cider vinegar? Do you know the differences between these products? Even in our experiences with CiderScene, we weren’t exactly sure about some of these answers. Let’s delve into some important cider-related questions.
Apple juice is the juice made by pulverizing and pressing a variety of apples.
As the apples are in the process of being pulverizing, enzymes are introduced to further break down the cellular structure of the apples. This allows for the maximum juice to be extracted. After pulverizing the apples, in the process of pressing, the juice is created while separating the seeds, stems, and any other remnants using a hydraulic press and filtering sleeves. The juice that is extracted is filtered and purified to remove remaining remnants, starch, and pectin to rid the batch of particulates and undesirable elements. The purified cider is then pasteurized for packaging.
As the extraction equipment is expensive to purchase and maintain, most apple juice is made in a commercial setting. Most of the production of apple juice is done in the month of October, where apple season is in full swing. The most common apples for apple juice are Fuji, Gala, Honey Crisp, McIntosh, Pink Lady, and Red Delicious.
Apple cider is the name used in most of Northern America for the unfiltered and unsweetened juice from apples. This beverage is non-alcoholic in nature. It may be opaque due to fine apple particles in suspension which cause a more tart or tangy flavor depending on the apples used in production. This untreated cider is a seasonally produced drink of limited shelf-life that is typically available only in fall, although it is sometimes frozen for use throughout the year. It is traditionally served on the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and various New Year’s Eve holidays, sometimes heated and mulled. It is the official state beverage of New Hampshire.
This untreated juice is very popular in the falls months and has a limited shelf-life due to the lack of pasteurization.
Apple juice and apple cider start from the same base. Apple juice is filtered of solids and particulates while undergoing the pasteurization process. Apple cider Fresh cider does not undergo a filtration process to remove coarse particles of pulp or sediment, which defines its flavor profile. Apple juice has a much longer shelf life than apple cider.Fresh pressed cider relies on its particles from all aspects of the apple to retain its flavor and color. As it is created, apple cider can ferment and alter over time, so it is best to consume in a timely fashion.
Fresh pressed cider relies on its particles from all aspects of the apple to retain its flavor and color. As it is created, apple cider can ferment and alter over time, so it is best to consume in a timely fashion.
Hard cider is the American term for cider or cyder, a European alcohol beverage made from fermented apple juice. This juice is pressed from fresh apples and turned into pomace. This pomace is then pressed and extracted to pure juice using similar methods to apple juice and apple cider. This juice either goes through a natural fermentation process using the wild yeast from the apple skins or from yeasts introduced in the process of making cider.
Hard cider has evolved into a dynamic industry in the United States introducing different fruit juices, fermentation processes, craft processes, and more. Much like the craft beer scene, craft cider is a growing industry.
The major difference between apple cider and hard cider is the filtration and fermentation process the hard cider undergoes. The filtration process removes the sediment and particulates in the pomace. The fermentation process for making hard cider turns the sugars into alcohol while creating byproducts including co2, which turns your drink into a carbonated beverage.
Both products start in a similar fashion from the juice of apples, but the controlled fermentation of the juice and filtration of the juice makes a drinkable beverage that is hard cider.
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar-made from apples and has a pale to medium amber color. It is made by crushing apples and extracting the liquid. Bacteria and yeast are added to the liquid to start the alcoholic fermentation process, and the sugars are turned into alcohol. In a second fermentation process, the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria. Acetic acid and malic acid give vinegar its sour taste.
Unpasteurized and organic apple cider vinegar contains mother of vinegar, a live culture of bacteria and yeast, which causes the congealed look on top of the product and furthers the process of bacterial consumption.
Apple cider vinegar is very similar to hard cider. Both actually take on the form of cider, but apple cider vinegar goes deeper. After the yeast digests the sugars and makes alcohol, bacteria eat the alcohol created from fermentation and turns it into acetic acid. While there are many ways to create apple cider vinegar, this is the main method. With different types of yeasts, both wild and unwild, and different lengths of time letting the bacteria consume the alcohol, apple cider vinegar can take one wildly different levels of acetic acid and tastes.
Simply put, the bacteria introduced is the major difference between the two.