Apple cider is the name used in the United States and parts of Canada for an unfiltered, unsweetened, non-alcoholic beverage made from apples. Though typically referred to simply as cider in those areas, it is not to be confused with the beverage known as cider throughout most of the world. Once widely pressed at farmsteads and local mills, apple cider is now easy and it is typically opaque due to fine apple particles in suspension and generally tangier than conventional filtered apple juice, depending on the apples used. Today, most cider is treated to kill bacteria and extend its shelf life, in either form, apple cider is a seasonally produced drink of limited shelf-life that is typically available only in autumn. It is traditionally served on the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and various New Years Eve holidays and it is the official state beverage of New Hampshire. While some states specify a difference between apple juice and cider, the distinction is not well established across the U. S, 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, vacuum sealing and additional filtering extend the shelf life of the juice. This still leaves unfiltered apple juice that is no longer raw in an area, presumably cider. The addition of sweeteners or reconstitution from concentrate are left even grayer, Canada recognizes unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice as cider, fresh or not. Historically all cider was left in its state, unprocessed. In time, airborne yeasts present on apple skins or cider making machinery would start fermentation in the finished cider, left on its own, alcohol would develop and forestall growth of harmful bacteria. When modern refrigeration emerged, cider and other fruit juices could be kept cold for long periods of time, any interruption of the refrigeration, however, could invite bacterial contamination to grow. Outbreaks of illness resulted in government regulation requiring virtually all commercially produced cider to be treated either with heat or radiation. As a result, natural raw cider is a specialty seasonal beverage, produced on-site at orchards and small mills in apple growing areas and sold there, at farmers markets. Such traditional cider is made from a mixture of several different apples to give a balanced taste. Frequently blends of heirloom varieties such as Winesap, once among the most sought-after cider apples for its flavor, are used. The US government requires that unpasteurized cider and juice have a label on the bottle. Even with refrigeration, raw cider will begin to become slightly carbonated within a week or so, some producers use this fermentation to make hard cider, others carry it to acetification to create artisanal apple cider vinegar
Apple cider (left) is an unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice. Most present-day apple cider is pasteurized, as apple juice (right) is.
A vintage combination apple grinder and press. Moving slatted baskets left to right allows simultaneous two-man production.