We Tried 6 Brands of Pasteurized Apple Juice: Mott’s, Old Orchard, Rauch, and MoreMay 20, 2019
Apples rank high up as a well-loved fruit around the globe. By extension, apple juice also takes a top spot when it comes to fruit juices (although, ultimately, nothing beats the whole fruit). Made by pressing and juicing select fruit into (literal) liquid gold, this sweet, tangy beverage is popular among people of all ages, from kids who pack it in their lunchboxes before heading to school to elders who enjoy it for their daily serving of fruit. Although fresh (and especially cold-pressed) apple juice is thought to be superior in taste and vitamin/mineral density, it tends to have a short shelf life (more or less 3-5 days)—that’s besides requiring as much refrigeration as possible through the whole juicing and storing process and being expensive AF.
Enter the more shelf-stable, commercially-sold pasteurized versions. Heated so as to kill the bacteria that may lead to early spoilage and at times reconstituted from juice concentrate, these juices (most of which originate from the US or other Western countries) are sold for relatively affordable prices at most local supermarkets. How do these six popular brands compare?
Note: We narrowed down the selection to drinks labelled “100% Apple juice” (no “juice drink” or “juice cocktail”), double-checking the ingredient list to make sure no other fruit juices have been added as fillers. Juices were all stored in the fridge and tasted cold, with no ice cubes added, within 3 days of opening.
Apple & Eve
Amber in color, Apple & Eve goes for a not-too-sweet mix with a distinct brightness to it. It’s hard to describe exactly, but it carries the kind of flavor we’d liken more to Granny Smith than Red Delicious varieties of the fruit. Its tartness and mild sweetness make for an especially refreshing sip, and thus a great addition to the breakfast table.
Also coming in an amber shade (but just slightly darker), Mott’s has what we deem the quintessential lunchbox apple juice flavor. Though it veers toward the sweet side, it has a potent dose of a somewhat wine-like apple flavor. It ends on a highly tart note that specifically brings to mind Vitamin C tablets (we’re guessing it’s the Ascorbic Acid in the ingredient list??). But it still kind of grows on us anyway.
Old Orchard goes by a slightly darker hue than Mott’s, but tastes highly similar with the aforementioned “quintessential” apple juice flavor, minus some of the tartness. You get just a mid-level sweetness, paired with a somewhat “cooked”-tasting apple flavor that isn’t too tart but contributes lots of depth.
Rauch Happy Day
This German brand takes on a similar relatively dark hue, like Old Orchard. It’s the purest-tasting of the lot, being barely sweet yet wonderfully apple-y and tart (in a natural-tasting way, unlike Mott’s and its Vitamin C tablet-esque punch). It also gives off a slightly tannic feel in the mouth, somewhat like wine, but makes for a smooth sip overall.
Seneca takes on a lighter, more golden-leaning shade for their apple juice. It’s not quite as intensely flavored as the others and has on a peculiar “watery” quality to it. Though not very sweet per se, it’s still the sweetness that prevails in the balance of flavors. You get the fruity essence of apple as you sip, followed by a very mild tang.
Treetop’s apple juice takes on the darkest color of the bunch, giving us the impression it would be the sweetest in flavor. But it comes on just the mid-level of sweet and is the least sour of all brands. Though lacking in tartness, you get a good dose of the “cooked” apple flavor reminiscent of dehydrated apples—making it a good choice for cooking or making desserts with.
The Verdict: Rauch happy Day
Truth be told, all apple juices on our list are generally similar in flavor and mouthfeel that it was initially hard for us to detect any significant differences. After multiple tastings however, one brand especially stood out: Rauch Happy Day. It’s barely sweet, wonderfully apple-y, and ends with a bright yet natural tanginess at the end—thus making it a great choice for straight-up drinking, cooking, or mixing into other beverages. Coming close is Apple & Eve with its tarter, brighter juice that still falls within the mellow level of sweet.