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This is my second time doing 5 gallons of wild-fermented cider. Both years I used fresh pressed apples from a local orchard. Last year I had no problems. After two or three weeks at room temperature, it bubbled vigorously just as I had hoped. This year, nothing. No bubbling or anything. I have been stirring it everyday two or three times, but it has been two months and nothing has happened. Is there anything I can do to save or restart my cider at this point? Or does it need to be dumped out? Any ideas on what went wrong?

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    You could take gravity readings each day to see if gravity changes; maybe fermentation was very non-bubbly. If you don't have a hydrometer, sample the juice / cider. How does it taste? Sweet and unfermented? Maybe wait longer or pitch a store bought yeast. Vinegar? Call it apple vinegar.
    – Robert
    Jan 7 at 21:52

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Obviously first thing is to monitor the gravity as Robert mentioned in his comment. If you don't check the gravity regularly there is no way to know if the fermentation is going. Obviously bubbles are a good indicator, that only works while the fermentation is fairly active, not when it is going at a slower pace or finishing up the fermentation.

If the gravity is not changing week-to-week then it is probably stalled/finished. It is important to have that number, cause it could simply be that your fermentation has just been going slow, or your apples have had very low sugar content, so it finished quicker than expected.

For a natural fermentation it can beneficial to leave the must in a slightly cooler place than room temperature as that is what the yeasts are used to.

As to if you should dump it then I'd try tasting it, and if it taste okay then you should try restarting it! It should be very obvious if the must has gone bad. Either it will smell/taste horrible, or you can visually see the mold growth.

As for restarting you have two options:

  • First option is the easy one, just add some wine yeast and it should be fine.
  • Second option would be making a natural yeast starter. You can do this by step feeding a water, sugar, and apple peel in a small container till you have a bubbly yeast mixture. This method is similar to making a ginger bug, which actually would work quite well to restart your fermentation too. The downside to this second option is that you'd get a lacto fermentation too, which would lower your potential ABV (though the lactic acid is quite good for you, so may not be a bad thing)
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    I agree, except that it doesn't have to be wine yeast, you can find cider yeast for sale as well.
    – Philippe
    Jan 12 at 16:09
  • @Philippe cider is a country wine ;-) but of cause he could use a beer or turbo yeast too. Main reason to keep it simple is that I don't want him to worry about which yeast is "right" since they'd all solve the problem here
    – Jeppe
    Jan 12 at 18:46

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