Secondary ... too long possible?

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Sballe

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So ... I have a hopefully simple question about secondary for the experts in there :) .... is it possible to let cider stay in the secondary for too long ? Especially regarding carbonation/bottle conditioning later ?

I have usually had my batches for about 4 weeks in primary, then approx 4 weeks in secondary, then priming and bottling .... now I have a plan on leaving 3-4 carboys/demijohns in secondary until spring, or maybe until say early march. Too get a batch-aging, a nice clearing, some smooting out of the taste ... all that. That means almost 5-6 months in secondary. Would that be all right ? And will there still be enough live yeast in suspension to carbonate ? (2 of my demijohns are wild ferments, so I would prefer not to add yeast later)

thx :)
 

Raptor99

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I have left cider in secondary for 5-6 months, and bottle fermentation still worked okay. But I'm not sure how that would work with natural yeast. Even if you could add a bit of yeast with the priming sugar, I don't think it would affect the flavor very much since the natural yeast has already done most of the work.
 
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Sballe

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I have left cider in secondary for 5-6 months, and bottle fermentation still worked okay. But I'm not sure how that would work with natural yeast. Even if you could add a bit of yeast with the priming sugar, I don't think it would affect the flavor very much since the natural yeast has already done most of the work.
Thx Raptor - sounds good.

Allrhough adding fresh yeast wouldnt as such change the flavor profile - I suspect it could change the sweetness level. Say, if my wild yeast has fermented down to 1,004 — and I add ec1118 during bottling … it would probably ferment down to 0,998 (ish) which ec1118 usually do in my batches…
 

Miraculix

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If you don't want to bulk age, there's no point in secondary at all in this case. After four weeks in primary it's as cleaned up as it gets so it's good to bottle. If you'd relying on wild fermentation, or trying to get molactic fermentation going it would be a completely different story.
 

mashpaddled

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If you pitched yeast, you can leave it bulk aging for as long as you want but this is optional. In these circumstances, you only need to keep your cider in a fermentation vessel while there is ongoing fermentation and until you've got all the sulfur, if any, out of the cider. You can accelerate that process by racking it once or twice over a few months.

With wild fermentation, you may see a slow yeast fermentation process and a second malolactic fermentation. In that case you would want to keep the cider in a single vessel until all fermentation ends. That will avoid overcarbonated bottles and variation across bottles in the same batch.
 

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