apple juice

apple juice

What to look for when you’re choosing your apple juice

April 05, 2024

Juice vs cider, fresh vs concentrate – there are many choices facing consumers when they’re deciding what to buy in the juice aisle. Juice is not only an additional way to consume fruits and increase intake of essential nutrients and phytonutrients, but it also helps reduce food waste and gives growers additional market outlets for the crops they grow.

When it comes to Ontario apples, here’s a short primer on what’s available, what it means and what to consider when making apple juice-buying decisions:

What’s the difference between juice and cider?

Juice is made from freshly pressed apples and will go through a heavy filtration process to achieve required clarity standards. Ascorbic acid is added to the juice as an anti-browning agent. Juice doesn’t retain as high a flavour profile compared to fresh apples, meaning the juice won’t be as highly flavoured as fresh apples.

Sweet, non-alcoholic cider is also made from freshly pressed apples. Depending on the processor, some minor filtration will take place along with pasteurization. Fresh cider must be refrigerated and has a shelf life of up to 55 days. It will maintain a strong apple flavour profile.

There are also alcoholic or hard ciders, which are made by fermenting apple juice.

Fresh juice vs juice from concentrate

In Canada, fresh apple juice is made locally from locally grown apples. It has a shorter shelf life than juice from concentrate and will have a stronger, richer flavour.

Concentrated juice is made by using an evaporating process to remove water from the juice. Once concentrated, juice can be shipped in lower volumes from apple growing regions to processors who then re-add water to reconstitute the juice.

While this helps lower transportation costs and makes juice available to more parts of the world, juice made from concentrate will not be as flavourful as 100% fresh juice. Concentrated juice can be stored for 12 months or more until it is ready for use and bottling.

Concentrated juice available in Canada is made from apples grown in other parts of the world such as China or Poland. There is currently no processing facility in Canada that produces apple juice concentrate from Canadian grown apples. This means that if you’re buying apple juice from concentrate, you are not buying a product made from Canadian apples.

Doesn’t Canada Fancy on the label mean my juice is from Canada?

Juice makers in Canada are required to display the “Canada Fancy” grade on the juice product labels they sell. This does not mean, however, that the juice in the container is made from Canadian apples. Instead, “Canada Fancy” is simply a grading standard related to juice quality that is required by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Buying local and reducing food waste

Juice is an important way to help reduce food waste and give growers additional market opportunities for apples that do not meet retail or fresh market standards due to blemishes or weather damage, for example.

Those apples are sorted at the pack house and sent for juice or fresh cider production. The pomace, which is what is left of the apples after they are pressed, can be used for various applications. It is often used as compost that is applied back onto the fields, but research is also underway at places like Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to look for ways that different components of the pomace could be used for as value-added ingredients for food processors looking for sustainable alternatives for their products.

Look for “Made from Canadian apples” (like the labels you can see on apple cider) when you’re out shopping and support Canadian apple growers!