Apple juice is a fruit juice made by the maceration and pressing of apples. The resulting expelled juice may be further treated by enzymatic and centrifugal clarification to remove the starch and pectin, which holds fine particulate in suspension, and then pasteurized for packaging in glass, metal or aseptic processing system containers, or further treated by dehydration processes to a concentrate.
Due to the complex and costly equipment required to extract and clarify juice from apples in large volume, apple juice is normally produced commercially. In the United States, unfiltered fresh apple juice is made by smaller operations in areas of high apple production, in the form of unclarified apple cider. Apple juice is one of the most common fruit juices in the world, with world production led by China, Poland, the United States, and Germany.
Apples used for apple juice are usually harvested between September and mid-November. A common cultivar used for apple juice is the McIntosh. Approximately two medium McIntosh apples produce 200mL of juice. After the apples are picked, they are washed and transported to the processing facility. The apples are then pressed and juiced right away to avoid spoilage. Depending on the company and end-product, the apples can be processed in different ways before pressing. Apple juice is then filtered, with the quantity of solid particles remaining partly defining the difference between apple juice and apple cider.
Vitamin C is sometimes added by fortification, because content is variable, and much of that is lost in processing. Vitamin C also helps to prevent oxidation of the product. Other vitamin concentrations are low, but apple juice does contain various mineral nutrients, including boron, which may promote healthy bones. Apple juice has a significant concentration of natural phenols of low molecular weight (including chlorogenic acid, flavan-3-ols, and flavonols) and procyanidins. Apple juice has been shown to reduce oxidative stress on the brains of aging lab mice. Research suggests that apple juice increases acetylcholine in the brain, possibly resulting in improved memory. Despite having some health benefits, apple juice is high in sugar. It has 28 g carbohydrates (24 g sugars) per 230 g (8 ounces). This results in 130 calories per 230 g (8 ounces) – protein and fat are not significant. Also like most fruit juice, apple juice contains a similar amount of sugar as the raw fruit, but lacks the fiber content.
While apple juice generally refers to the filtered, pasteurised product of apple pressing, an unfiltered and sometimes unpasteurised product commonly known as apple cider in the United States and parts of Canada may be packaged and sold as apple juice. In the U.S., the opposite is often seen; filtered and clarified juice (including carbonated varieties) may be sold as "apple cider", thus there is an unclear distinction between filtered apple juice and natural apple cider. In other places such as New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, apple cider is an alcoholic beverage. The alcoholic beverage referred to as cider in these areas is usually referred to as hard cider in the United States.
Because apple juice is acidic (with a pH of 3.4) it can be pasteurized for less time or at lower temperatures than many other juices. For this purpose, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends the following thermal processing times and temperatures in order to achieve a 5-log reduction of Cryptosporidium parvum as this parasite is more heat resistant than E.coli 0157:
- 160 °F for at least 6 seconds,
- 165 °F for at least 2.8 seconds,
- 170 °F for at least 1.3 seconds,
- 175 °F for at least 0.6 seconds,
- 180 °F for at least 0.3 seconds,
Unpasteurized juice and foodborne illnesses
From 2000 to 2010 there were over 1700 cases in North America of illnesses related to drinking unpasteurized juice and ciders. The pathogens related to these foodborne illnesses included parasites, bacteria, and viruses. The most common pathogens were E.coli 0157 and 0111, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, Clostridium botulinum, and Hepatitis A. Pathogens can be spread in a number of ways, such as contamination where the fruit is grown, being carried in contaminated containers, or due to poor handling and washing.
To ensure that customers enjoy their apple juice as fresh as possible, it is important to consume the juice by the date provided on the label. When the juice is first purchased, it can be stored in a dark, cool place, such as a pantry or cupboard, to delay the degradation of the product. If the juice is not consumed right away, the appearance, texture, or taste of the juice might change, however if it has not passed the best before date then it should be safe to consume. Once the juice package is opened, it must be resealed tightly and refrigerated right away to avoid contamination from microorganisms such as bacteria. The ideal storage temperature for apple juice is between 0 to 4 °C. Depending on the original package of the apple juice, it could help to transfer the contents to a new container. For example, if the original package was a Tetra Pak which does not permit contact of the product with light, then it is safe to refrigerate as is. However, if the product was initially in a glass container, transferring the apple juice into an opaque container would help extend the shelf life of the juice. This may include a thermos or plastic bottle.
- USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. World Apple Juice Situation. 2004-2005. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- "Code of Practice for the Production and Distribution of Unpasteurized Apple and Other Fruit Juice/Cider in Canada 5.2 Fruit Storage Practices". Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
- Vitamin C in selected varieties
- Parks and Edwards (2005) Boron in the Environment Retrieved 2008-08-13
- Fractionation of polyphenol-enriched apple juice extracts to identify constituents with cancer chemopreventive potential. Henriette Zessner, Lydia Pan, Frank Will, Karin Klimo, Jutta Knauft, Regina Niewöhner, Wolfgang Hümmer, Robert Owen, Elke Richling, Norbert Frank, Peter Schreier, Hans Becker and Clarissa Gerhauser, Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, Supplement: Natural Products and Dietary Prevention of Cancer, Volume 52, Issue Supplement 1, pages S28–S44, June 2010, doi:10.1002/mnfr.200700317
- Lawson, Willow (March 8, 2006). "Apples and apple juice contain antioxidants that protect cells throughout the body, particularly the brain and heart". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
- Apple Juice May Boost Memory. WebMD
- What's the difference between apple juice and apple cider?, The Straight Dope. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- FDA Pasteurization Regulation
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