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I’ve talked about apple cider vinegar in great depth throughout this website, and it’s mainly because apple cider vinegar has suited me very well and I love to share my experience with you guys. In this post, though, I thought I’d address a point of sometimes confusion: apple cider vs apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vs apple cider vinegar: the difference
In short, the difference between apple cider and apple cider vinegar is that apple cider is the liquid that comes out of pressed apples, and apple cider vinegar is apple cider that has been fermented twice: once to form alcohol, and the second time to convert the alcohol into acetic acid(vinegar).
How apple cider is made
Apple cider is made from freshly pressed apples. The juice that comes out as a result of pressing – no filtering and no sweeteners added – is apple cider.
If you’ve grown up drinking apple juice, you may need to develop a taste for apple cider as there is a distinct difference in taste but I personally have grown to love apple cider more than apple juice as the taste is just a lot more authentic and natural.
Since there are no sweeteners or filtering involved, apple cider generally has a much shorter shelf life and the best, freshest apple cider is available in grocery stores during the fall, when apples have just been harvested. Occasionally, manufacturers may freeze it to be able to sell around the year.
Apple cider can be enjoyed both cold and warm, though you should definitely store it in the refrigerator, and if you like warm cider, just zap it in the microwave before consumption.
Since it is not pasteurized, it does not last very long.
How apple cider vinegar is made
Apple cider vinegar is made much like any other vinegar, except the starting point is apple cider as opposed to another fruit juice or wine.
Once you have the apple cider, a starter(or mother) is added to the cider to start the fermentation process. The first fermentation converts the sugars in the apple cider to alcohol, and the second fermentation converts the alcohol into acetic acid. The two main acidic components in ACV are acetic acid and malic acid.
These two acids give it the distinctly sour taste.
The health advocates of apple cider vinegar suggest consuming raw apple cider vinegar, which contains the starter in it. This is also known as the “mother”.
“Mother” is actually a common term in natural fermentation and some people refer to sourdough starters as the “mother” too.
The “mother” is nothing more than a live culture of bacteria and yeasts. This gives the ACV a slightly murky look and continues the fermentation process even as it remains in your kitchen cabinet.
Depending on how long you let the hard cider ferment, the intensity and acidity of the liquid will change. This will only work for raw ACV, though, as processed apple cider vinegar will not have the mother in it.
Apple cider vs apple cider vinegar for cooking
Suppose you have a recipe that calls for apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has the sweetness of apple cider and the tanginess of apple cider vinegar.
Plain apple cider will not have as much of an acidic kick, so if the acid is meant to provide a kick to your recipe, just apple cider won’t provide as much of it as apple cider vinegar.
ACV is really easy to find and if you are not able to get it in your local supermarket you can easily order it online:
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Apple cider vs apple juice
Apple juice, on the other hand, starts out in a similar way as apple cider but then undergoes a lot of further processing.
As the apples are pressed, manufacturers add enzymes which help break down the apple’s flesh even further, resulting in more juice getting extracted.
The seeds, stems, and anything else is filtered using fine sieves in the manufacturing process. This also removes any small particulate matter, which is how the resulting apple juice is so clear and golden.
Finally, the resulting liquid is pasteurized to remove any bacteria, effectively extending the shelf life.
Like apple cider, apple juice is produced in the fall months when the apple harvest is at its peak. Since packaged apple juice can last so long, you’ll find it very easily available all year round.
Making apple juice is quite expensive, so you won’t find smaller enterprises doing it – most apple juice is commercially manufactured in big plants. Many varieties of apples are used for making apple juice.
Apple juice and apple cider taste different because apple juice is highly filtered and often sweetened, whereas apple cider contains most of the natural flavors of the apple.
Apple cider is more like drinking an “apple” as opposed to apple juice, which is more like “apple flavored”.
What is hard cider
Apple cider can be left to ferment to make hard cider, which is an alcoholic version of apple cider. The fermentation process either takes place through wild yeast from the apple skins(you’d be surprised, wild yeast are pretty much everywhere), or through added yeast.
Hard cider is also the starting point for apple cider vinegar, as you saw above.
Hopefully this shed some light on the differences between apple cider and apple cider vinegar. You can drink apple cider by the glass, but apple cider vinegar should only be consumed diluted with water. Otherwise the high acidity will cause a lot of discomfort!