Storage Strategies for Secondary Fermentation and Conditioning of Homebrew Cider

Friday, November 3, 2023
The journey of homebrewing doesn’t end with bottling your cider; in fact, that's where a crucial phase begins—secondary fermentation and conditioning. This stage can dramatically affect the taste, carbonation, and overall quality of the final product. 

Here’s an in-depth exploration of how a dedicated homebrewer can ensure their cider matures into a well-conditioned, flavorful beverage.

Understanding Secondary Fermentation and Conditioning

Secondary fermentation refers to the process that occurs once the cider is transferred into bottles. The yeast continues to ferment any remaining sugars, producing carbon dioxide which carbonates the cider. Conditioning, on the other hand, is the period during which the flavors of the cider mature and stabilize.

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The Right Environment


Maintaining the correct temperature is paramount. For most ciders, a consistent temperature between 55-75°F (13-24°C) during secondary fermentation helps the yeast work efficiently without producing off-flavors. Once the initial burst of fermentation is complete, lowering the temperature to the lower end of this range can aid in the conditioning process, allowing flavors to meld smoothly.


Light, especially sunlight, can be detrimental to the cider, leading to off-flavors often described as 'skunky'. To prevent this, store your cider in a dark place. If a dark room isn't available, consider wrapping the bottles in a cloth or storing them in a box.

Frequent movement or vibrations can disturb the sediment and disrupt the conditioning process. Find a location where the cider can rest undisturbed for weeks or even months, depending on your conditioning timeline.

Containers Matter

Bottle Material

Glass is the traditional choice for its non-reactive nature and excellent sealing capabilities. Amber-colored glass bottles offer an added layer of protection against light. Plastic bottles however are quite popular for cider as well but less grand an experience for the environment.


The seal of the bottle is critical to prevent oxygen from entering and spoiling the cider. Caps should be of high quality.

Timing is Everything

Secondary fermentation can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the initial sugar content and the yeast strain. Conditioning, however, is more of an art than a science. Regular taste tests after the first month can help you determine when the cider has reached its peak flavor.
Patience is a Virtue

The conditioning process is not one to be rushed. Some ciders can benefit from several months to over a year of aging. The complexity and depth of flavor that can be achieved through extended conditioning are often well worth the wait.

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Monitoring Progress

Keeping detailed records of temperature, taste notes, and any adjustments made during secondary fermentation and conditioning can provide valuable insights for future batches and help troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Sanitation Still Reigns Supreme

Even after the primary fermentation, sanitation remains crucial. All equipment that comes into contact with the cider post-fermentation must be thoroughly sanitized to prevent contamination.

Storing your bottled homebrew cider for secondary fermentation and conditioning is a delicate balance of science and patience. By controlling the environment, choosing the right containers, timing the process, and ensuring cleanliness, you can influence the final character of your cider. Remember, the best cider is worth waiting for, and with these strategies, that patience will pay off with each flavorful sip.
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