The beginning of Fall means a few things—leaves turn orange, sweaters make their first appearance of the season, and sweet smells of spiced apple cider fill the air. But what exactly is apple cider and how is it different from apple juice? 

Apple Juice

beer, wine
Zoe Zaiss

Commonly found in the juice aisle of the grocery store, apple juice is definitely more common than cider. Apple juice is made through a process of concentration, pasteurization, and dilution, and the fact that it doesn't have to be refrigerated is evidence for its more processed composition. It's perfect for packing in school lunches or enjoying on warmer fall days, but a mug of warm apple juice just seems so wrong. Needless to say, I'm #teamcider. 

Apple Cider

Lena Grimaldi

Apple cider typically becomes popular around the fall time along with cider mills and apple orchards. Unlike it's cousin, apple juice, cider is simply pressed juice from apples, usually with no additives. Because it's minimally processed it has a shorter lifespan and must be  refrigerated. It's seasonally available, more natural, and often more local than purchasing apple juice from a name brand. 

Fun fact: As cider undergoes fermentation, it can become slightly alcoholic, similar to komboucha!

The Confusion 

apple, juice, cider, sweet, tea
Anna Arteaga

Though these definitions might clear up the confusion in your head, apple juice and apple cider are actually sometimes hard to distinguish. To make matters worse, it's possible that a drink labeled apple juice could actually be considered apple cider if it's not pasteurized. A good way to decipher the difference is to check the opacity (cider is generally more opaque since it's less filtered). To make your head spin even more, people outside of the US often refer to apple cider as juice, and define apple cider as the American "hard cider".

apples, Fuji apple, Fruit, whole apple
Jocelyn Hsu

So whether you opt for apple juice or apple cider, at least now you can rest assured that you'll choose the correct beverage next time you're grocery shopping. Maybe even try this drink or easy oatmeal to amp up your apple game. Didn't you hear? Pumpkin spice is out, apple cider is in!