Apple cider is generally considered to be cloudy unfiltered juice, while apple juice is typically clear, having had all of the apple solids filtered out of it. From time to time, however, you’ll notice clear juices labeled as ciders and cloudy, unfiltered apple juices on store shelves. There is no official federal definition of what constitutes apple juice or apple cider, which means that there is no on standard for the difference between the two beverages. In short, you can call juice cider and cider juice because there is no official difference between the two. Some juice producers, like Martinelli’s, even come right out and say that the labels are the only difference between their juice and their cider.
Some states, such as Massachusetts, specify a difference betwen juice and cider. According to the Massachusetts standard, “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.” This definition – one of the few available – matches what most of us think of when we picture apple juice and apple cider.
Both apple juice and apple cider may be made from concentrate or from freshly squeezed or pressed apples. The majority will not have anything added to them, as apples are quite sweet and flavorful on their own. These days, it is becoming more common to see the type of apple used printed on the label. At farmers markets, growers may also use only one or two types of apples for their cider to give their products a unique flavor.
Most apple cider sold in grocery stores has been pasteurized to kill off any unwanted bacteria. If you buy your apple cider at a farmer’s market, where you can find unpasteurized cider, you may notice that it starts to ferment a bit. This cider contains natural yeasts and can be made into hard apple cider, a lightly carbonated alcoholic beverage.