I am a beginner homebrewer, so I will explain my situation in more detail to make sure I am making still hard cider correctly. Recently, I started my first batch by adding 1 gallon of pasteurized store-bought apple cider to a carboy along with a packet of Lalvin-E1118 yeast. So far, I’ve put an airlock on it and have left it alone for about 2 weeks. My question is, when exactly do I start secondary fermentation, how do I do so, and is it possible to store the still cider in a wine/whisky barrel with a spigot instead of bottling? I am not ready to start carbonating and bottling the cider until I have found a tasty recipe that I like. Also, I tasted the primary brew and it is very sour. Is there a way to make the cider sweeter? Thanks
Making cider is a good entry into the great hobby of homebrew. Sounds like you've started the project properly--it's pretty easy to make cider. However, I'd suggest you take things slowly and skip the barrel for your first batch. Get to know the basic process and variables first. Wait till you're comfortable with the ingredients and process, then, when you have a some special juice, try out the barrel.
Secondary fermentation is usually a misnomer and an unnecessary step. For your purposes, just let it stay in your primary fermentation vessel a few more weeks. Watch the airlock--when it stops bubbling, give it another weeks or two, then put it in bottles. No need to carbonate if you don't want to. If you bottle too soon, and some sugar hasn't fermented out, you will get a bit of carbonation in the bottle
I'd suggest getting a hydrometer and recording the specific gravity (sugar concentration) of your cider before fermentation, then when you think it's done. With experience, you'll learn what gravity level indicates that fermentation is complete given different juice and yeast.
If the cider is actually sour, then you might have had some bacteria get into it and make a bit of vinegar. Make sure you're sanitizing everything carefully.
Otherwise, use some potassium sorbate or other "stabilizer" which will deactivate your yeast then add your sweetener.
More of all, have fun and enjoy. Keep things easy and experiment more.
You have several questions there... Secondary fermentation in the brewing world is usually meant to be secondary storage. Now cider being closer to wine than beer since it is made out of fruit juice you could send the cider through a secondary fermentation called Malolactic Fermentation (MLF). This might actually help with the sourness your are tasting which probably caused by high acid levels. MLF eats the malic acid (green apple flavors) and turns it into lactic acid (softer).
There are ways to make it sweet. Simply putting more sugar in will not work. The yeast will eat it. You can use chemicals to kill the yeast or sterile filter and add sugar, you can make a sweet cider. But all this is advanced stuff.
I would skip the barrel, just store your cider in another carboy. You don't want any headspace between the cider and bung, maybe an inch. While you can store cider in an old whiskey barrel, I think that's a little too much to take on your first try.
I really suggest getting a book or watching some youtube videos on cider making.