As the leaves start to change and the weather cools down, the need for a warm drink in your hand grows. September and October are the peak seasons for all things fall, especially apple cider. But what is apple cider, and what makes it different from apple juice?

Apple cider is simply apple juice that's unfiltered, leaving the leftover pulp within the juice. The lack of pasteurization is why apple cider has such a short shelf life. The consistency of apple cider is much thicker and smoother than regular apple juice and is commonly served warm. Apple cider's flavor consists of a perfect  balance between tartness and sweetness that's unlike anything else.

pasture, berry, cranberry
Madeleine Cohen

Apple cider not only is delicious, but has a number of health benefits as well. Apples are high in antioxidants, and once juiced an array of healthy acids and bacteria are added in.  Once fermented, apple cider can be transformed into apple cider vinegar, which contains various health benefits towards things such as killing pathogens, weight loss, diabetes.

The fermentation of apple cider also creates alcoholic or hard cider. When apple cider ferments, it creates its own alcoholic content. Starting way back in the Roman era, apple cider has been a staple drink to sip on.

So why is apple cider so popular during the fall? Because that's when most apple varieties are in season. Thus, this drink is best when enjoyed fresh from in-season apples. 

sweet, juice, cider, apple
Susanna Mostaghim

Apple cider is the perfect drink to hold on a brisk day, looking at the colored leaves and crunching the fallen ones. Now that you know what it is you can enjoy it that much more! If you're looking for extra apple cider inspiration, make one of these apple cider cocktails while you can still get your hands on fresh cider.