Americans: the difference between cider and apple juice

To me, apple juice is what you get when you squash apples, and cider is what you get when you ferment apple juice. There is no such thing as non-alcoholic cider.

From watching an episode of the Simpsons (when Flanders has a rhyme to remember which is apple juice and which is cider) and an episode of Alias (where one of the characers says she wanted to buy wine, but got carded, so had to buy cider) I gather that cider is a non-alcoholic drink in the USA.

What is it? How does it differ from apple juice? What do you call the alcoholic beverage made from apples?

I’m confused.

Cider is unstrained and unpasteurized apple juice. Alcoholic cider is called hard cider.

Apple juice is filtered and clear. It does not contain sediment, and it is always pasteurized.

Cider is made of squashed up apples and may be unpasteurized depending on where you buy it. In some locales, visiting a “cider mill” where they do the squashing is a fall tradition.

We call the alcoholic stuff “hard cider.” It only started being available widely in the past 15-20 years, We have a couple of American brands now – “Woodchuck” and “Hornsby’s” – and nowadays you can often get Strongbow or Woodpecker in pub-themed drinking establishments.

Unpasteurized fresh cider will turn into hard cider on its own if you leave it in the back of the fridge for a couple of weeks. Yum!

Cider often also has spices added to it.

Actually, it’s both things. What you call “apple juice”, the brownish, opaque, meaty drink, we call that cider, yes. But there’s also “hard cider”, sometimes also called just “cider”. This is alcoholic.

“Apple juice” is a processed form of non-alcoholic “apple cider”. Solid pulp has been removed, so the liquid is transparent and golden in color. It usually has added sugar and preservatives. You can find it in grocery stores in large glass and plastic bottles, and also in childrens’ cardboard juice boxes.

IIRC, legally there is no distinction this side of the pond. There are trends, but they differ from area to area. Generally, if you order cider in a bar, you will get something with alcohol in it. Outside of a bar, you can never tell for sure what you will get.

I see. To me apple juice, whether processed or not is “apple juice” and alcoholic stuff is “cider”.

To you unprocessed apple juice is “cider”, processed apple juice is “apple juice” and alcoholic stuff is either “cider” or “hard cider”.

Cecil did a column on this question that’s spawned several threads.

That last thread has the most information in it. Coincidently, it’s also the one I posted in. :slight_smile: