Apple juice and apple cider are both 100% apple juice squeezed or pressed from apples and in many ways are the same when first pressed. In some jurisdictions, especially outside of North America, apple cider is not pasteurized and is generally sold with an alcoholic content. Apple juice, on the other hand, is further processed and is almost always pasteurized, so it doesn’t ferment or develop any alcoholic content.
Apple cider vinegar is a year-round product.
There is a substantial year-round market in the US and Canada for both apple juice and apple cider, but the cider product enjoys particular popularity around the year-end holiday season which it begins with Thanksgiving Day, the traditional harvest days of the harvest. Stores will increase their stocks of apple cider during this period to meet increased demand, and special recipes for cider-based beverages such as mulled cider are being offered. Another popular variation on apple cider is a non-alcoholic carbonated drink called sparkling cider, often served as a substitute for champagne. There is also a small but vibrant year-round market for apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider is not pasteurized and is often sold in orchards.
In the US and Canada, producers must 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. That’s why juice and cider sold in American and Canadian supermarkets are not fermented. The one exception is when growers sell directly to consumers, such as an apple orchard that presses and sells jugs of cider on its premises or from roadside stalls; when such cider ferments, it is called hard cider.
Apple juice has all particles, pectin and starch removed.
The first production step in the US and Canada is the same for both apple juice and apple cider. Ripe apples are ground and the juice is squeezed, through a strainer and into a vat. This juice is brown and opaque with tiny apple particles suspended in the liquid; if it will be sold as apple cider, it may not be subject to any further filtering. If it will be 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 the juices and ciders of different species of apples to achieve a uniform flavor.
Outside of the US 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 alcoholic content, much like wine. Some growers allow the apples to begin to rot, so that the fermentation process begins before the apples are pressed. There is a significant market in Europe for hard cider, with many different varieties available.