Bottling cider after one year in secondary fermentation

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caesar

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So here goes with my first question for this community.

Around this time last year – more or less to the day, actually – I started a batch of cider using apples from neighbours' trees that were going to waste. I bought a small hand-operated shredder (which didn't work very well) and borrowed a press (a honey press, actually) from a friend, and with great labour produced ~22 litres of juice.
Sadly, I failed to keep notes – something I've always done in the past with my country wines – though I did note the starting SG which was 1.042, and which I brought up to 1.056 by the addition of 1kg sugar.
I didn't note what yeast I used, though I do recall buying a cider yeast online.
After primary fermentation – again, I don't recall how long – I transferred to secondary, fitted an airlock – and left it. Far too long. A year has now gone by, and it's still sitting there.

So my question is, what can I do now – assuming it hasn't turned to vinegar? (I haven't dared open it to check it out yet…)

Obviously it will be completely dry, so perhaps it will need back-sweetening. Maybe I could use apple juice, since it's that time of the year again… though I guess it's supposed to be with non-fermentable sugars.

But my main question is – if I add priming sugar and bottle, will the bottle fermentation actually take place after so much time? Will there be any yeast left alive for that? Or will I need to add yeast too?

I'm a complete noob at cider making so any tips will be greatly appreciated.

Cheers! 🍻

PS – in the attached photo, the 6-litre bottle is a slightly earlier batch, with different apples, and in which I don't think I had the cider yeast yet but I might have used a wine yeast… I'm not sure.
The 1-litre bottle is excess that didn't fit in the 20-litre demijohn.
 

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madscientist451

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A year isn't too long, taste it and if it tastes OK go ahead and drink it. I get busy and often don't have time to bottle up the cider when its ready. If you add campden tablets when transferring to secondary you cider will last a long time. Also, avoid too much headspace in the secondary vessel.
I usually don't bother with carbonating my cider, I just transfer it to screw top wine bottles and put one in the fridge. The carbonation goes away pretty fast anyway when you pour to a glass. For back sweetening, I keep it simple, just add a shot of apple juice or something similar to my glass of cider. If I can get the right apples, my dry cider is fine without adding anything.
Sometimes I do carbonate cider in a keg and will back sweeten, but usually all my keg space is taken up by my beer.
'
 
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caesar

caesar

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Thanks for the answer, @madscientist451
A year isn't too long
That's good to know! I was under the impression cider needed bottling – and drinking – sooner than wine, but perhaps that's not the case.
I'm not sure if I added sulphite when transferring to the secondary – I would normally do so when racking a 2nd time, but probably not when transferring from the primary. I'll have to taste it and see how it is.

I usually don't bother with carbonating my cider
Interesting. I've never drunk flat/non-carbonated cider, though I've heard of it. Perhaps I should try, it would certainly make things simpler…

If I did want to carbonate though, do you think after so long in secondary, I'd need to add yeast? Or do you think there would still be something alive in there that would start fermenting if I were to add sugar?
 

Rish

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I've carbed mead after 18 months in secondary without adding yeast so I think you'd be okay.
Still cider is definitely a thing and I like both.
If you want to backsweeten, I agree with @madscientist451 to just do it by the pour with juice, simple syrup, etc. Hope it goes well!
 
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caesar

caesar

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Thanks! I guess I'd better start by opening it up and seeing if it's ok and what it tastes like, then I'll think about carbonation and probably as you suggest avoid backsweetening in the bottles...

If I did want to backsweeten either this or a future batch, does anyone have suggestions / thoughts on non-fermentable sweeteners like xylitol? I instinctively shy away from what at first glance I think of as "non-natural ingredients", but I'd be interested in other people's thoughts.
 

Rish

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Thanks! I guess I'd better start by opening it up and seeing if it's ok and what it tastes like, then I'll think about carbonation and probably as you suggest avoid backsweetening in the bottles...

If I did want to backsweeten either this or a future batch, does anyone have suggestions / thoughts on non-fermentable sweeteners like xylitol? I instinctively shy away from what at first glance I think of as "non-natural ingredients", but I'd be interested in other people's thoughts.
I've used liquid monkfruit sweetener from Whole Foods to backsweeten mead and cider. Taste is good. It seems to me to add a little body or "oilyness" to the mouth feel. Not bad to me in something so light.
 
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