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I was at the grocery store and saw glass containers of these.

What would be the differences?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Apple cider has two meanings, but they both start with raw, pressed juice from crushed apples.

Soft apple cider (normally just called cider) is simply the pressed juice, bottled. It is cloudy from suspended apple particles, and turns brown from the oxidation, much as apples themselves do when cut and exposed to air. Hard apple cider is an alcoholic beverage made by allowing soft apple cider to ferment.

Apple juice is essentially the squeezed juice from the apples that has been highly filtered to remove the suspended particulates. It is usually pasteurized to have a longer shelf life.

UK Usage: Per ElendilTheTall, in the UK, the alcoholic beverage is called cider, and the other products are called simple apple juice.

See also: MA government article

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Just to round this out, I will point out that in Europe, cider is the alcoholic drink, and apple juice is the soft drink, regardless of whether its cloudy or not. There is no such thing as 'soft apple cider' in Europe (ie nothing called that). Just FYI. – ElendilTheTall Jul 14 '13 at 8:48
I should clarify, no one in the US normally says "soft apple cider"; I was just emphasizing the contrast with hard cider. – SAJ14SAJ Jul 14 '13 at 11:47
Following on from ElendilTheTall's comment, this answer may be dangerously misleading in Europe. Cider is considered by many, not including myself, to have a sufficiently high alcohol percent to engender significant caution. From my experience, 5% to 12%. – alan2here Sep 23 '15 at 18:01

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