So far, so good (thanks in large part to the wisdom of the Brewmistress of the Lake
Ordered 5 extra gallons of all-natural, fresh-pressed, unfiltered, unpasteurized, double-washed cider from the produce cooperative that we subscribe to (Horse & Buggy Produce) last week. Also ordered campden tabs, pectic enzyme and White Labs English Cider yeast from AHS. The AHS stuff arrived on Monday, and I filled my jugs with the cider at lunch yesterday. I was going to add dextrose to get to the OG I wanted, but the cider is already at 1.059 without any help, so I'm omitting that sugar.
Went straight home, put all 5 gallons into a 6.5-gal carboy, crushed 5 campden tabs and mixed them into warm water, then added that to the cider. Then I added half a gallon of apple juice to a gallon jug and pitched the yeast into it as a sort of starter. Not sure if this is 100% necessary, but why not? I'm waiting for the campden tabs to work anyway, so I've got time.
Checked the starter this morning. It's definitely going. No krausen or anything; it's acting more like montrachet yeast...it looks cloudy and you can see a little movement on the surface, but if you put your ear up to the jug, it sounds like a bottle of freshly opened pepsi. So, we have liftoff...I guess the UPS warehouse it sat in over the weekend wasn't too hot.
Added the pectic enzyme this morning and stirred really well. I'll probably dump the starter in tonight. More updates to follow. This is my first cider ever, so if anyone has suggestions, let me know.
And by the way, the cider I'm using is amazing. We got an additional half gallon with our subscription, and it's like liquid heaven.