Apple Cider or Juice

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monkerz

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I read and see lots of talk about using Apple Juice to make Hard Apple Cider. I was curious if using fresh apple cider from a farm would be better than using store-bought juice. Thoughts?
 

pshankstar

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This doesn't answer your question but rather giving you my experience and feedback.
I have only done a couple of batches of hard cider myself. Prior to the one I have in the fermenter now, I have always bought fresh apple cider from the local apple orchard. I had verified they use UV pasteurization to their apple cider and had good results with it. They recently sold the farm to someone else and they do not have hours posted yet, so I bought apple juice from the grocery store. I looked at the apple cider they had but there was something in it that would prevent the yeast from fermenting, so I was stuck with using their juice instead. I haven't tasted it yet but I am sure it will turn out just fine.
For me, I personally would like to buy from a local farm if possible and support local. Just make sure there's nothing in there that prevents fermentation, regardless if its cider or juice. Good luck!
 

DBhomebrew

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Purchased from a local orchard, you might be able to score some cider blend. A mix of juices from both sweet eating apples (most commercial juice) and tart, bitter apples that make a more interesting end product.
 

bernardsmith

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The orchard might simply provide you with apple juice expressed from eating apples or they might provide juice with a mixture of sweet, acidic, and high tannin apples for hard cider. Those orchards can provide you with the SG (or Brix) of their juice and the pH. Real hard cider was not made from eating apples, but in the US most of the cider apple trees were cut down during prohibition. The difference between real cider and fermented apple juice is the difference between Bud Lite and real beer., Sorry, Steveruch.
 
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monkerz

monkerz

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The orchard might simply provide you with apple juice expressed from eating apples or they might provide juice with a mixture of sweet, acidic, and high tannin apples for hard cider. Those orchards can provide you with the SG (or Brix) of their juice and the pH. Real hard cider was not made from eating apples, but in the US most of the cider apple trees were cut down during prohibition. The difference between real cider and fermented apple juice is the difference between Bud Lite and real beer., Sorry, Steveruch.
So real cider is the real beer or a bud lite in your opinion?
 

Tancred the Brewer

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I have made hard cider from both store bought juice and orchard produced cider. I have found that while I can make an enjoyable and drinkable product with either, the complexity is improved by using orchard cider. I can only assume the variety of apples, the unfiltered nature, and the ability to customize the mix a bit (my local orchard offers a number of mixed and individual varieties of cider) all contribute to a much more complex fermented product. If juice is your only option then go with it and you should have a product you will enjoy. If you can get local cider then I would try it first. To me it is less like Bud Light and real beer and more like homebrew made from extract vs. all grain. You can make a really good extract beer but in general all grain leads to a superior product.
 

bernardsmith

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REAL cider, is real cider and a real cider is equivalent to a real artisinal beer. You know, the kind of beer that micro breweries make and which tastes like beer, made from barley, not wheat or rice. Bud lite... is supposed to be lager. If you ever get to Britain and you travel to pubs in the south, you can find places that sell cider on tap. Real cider. You can find scrumpy: cider made with indigenous yeast. Knocks yer socks off.
 

bernardsmith

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Not a "brewer", although I do occasionally brew beers both all grain and DME. When you boil DME or LME to incorporate hops you are double boiling the extract, as it was boiled first to extract all the liquid from the grains in order to dehydrate the grains and so make DME or remove an enormous amount of the liquid and so end up with LME. In short, what you bought was post mash concentrated wort. Double boiling may not be so terrible... but it must surely affect the complexity of flavors. And clearly, while one is almost certainly going to be including additional flavor grains and all kinds of adjuncts, the same beer made using all-grain is going to taste different enough for a good brewer to be able to identify which bottle was made with all grain, and which was made from extract...
 

Raptor99

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Fresh pressed apple juice will make a better cider, depending on the types of apples used. Since I do not have an apple press, I have been using grocery store apple juice so far. To make it taste more like "real cider" I do the following:
* Choose an apple juice variety that includes some acid and tannins. Previously, I was able to get gravenstein juice, but that is no longer available. My current favorite is Tree Top 3 Apple Blend
* Add some malic acid to bring the pH down to around 3.5
* Add some tannins to supply what is lacking in store-bought apple juice
* Include a bit of oak in the secondary for tannins and complexity
 

z-bob

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If you buy fresh apple juice from an orchard (or grocery store fancy juice that's unfiltered) make sure it does not have sorbates or benzoates added. Most of them do, even though it's not obvious from the label on the orchard juice. That stuff will only ferment if you hugely overpitch a lot of healthy yeast, and even then it probably won't finish.
 

bhanson

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You can make a great product either way. Usually "apple juice" in the store is cooked, so there is obviously a change in flavor, and big brands go for a uniform product. That means you will get an expected outcome as well. Depending upon fermentation, I think there's a bit more opportunity for nuance with fresh cider, particularly if it is a blend of contributing flavors.

But I've done both, and been happy with both. Just a little different.
 

madscientist451

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Most of your big box store juices are produced from concentrate from China. Nothing wrong with that, but its going to be lacking in complexity and your local farm produced cider hasn't been concentrated and then watered down again and likely produced from several varieties of apples so your fermented cider probably be better. Note that not all fresh pressed local cider is good, I've had some that just doesn't taste all that great.
 

Raptor99

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I’ve read that if the cider is pasteurized that it will not clear. Probably refers to heat pasteurization.
I use unfiltered apple juice, sometimes called apple "cider." It is pasteurized, as required by law. Pasturized is not the same as "cooked." The one that I use contains only apple juice, without sorbate or other preservatives. I add pectic enzyme in the primary, and bulk age for a few months. It will clear during that time.

@madscientist451 I use only apple juice "not from concentrate." I doubt that it is produced in China.
 

madscientist451

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@madscientist451 I use only apple juice "not from concentrate." I doubt that it is produced in China.
If you get juice in a big box store or supermarket, the country of origin is usually on the lid, but sometimes its on the label. If the product contains concentrate, that's supposed to be on the label.
Pasteurized juice is heated, but only for a short time.
I've made some pretty decent cider using "simply apple" juice from the store.
 
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