Apple Juice Starter - Is this right?

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interplexr

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I'm getting ready to make my first mead, an apple mead. I was planning to make a 3 gallon batch with 2 gallons apple juice (pasturized w/ no preservatives) and a gallon of water with around 9 lbs of honey. I made a starter yesterday for my White Labs sweet mead yeast. I filled a half gallon jub 2/3 full with apple juice and pitched my yeast. It's been bubbling away and I shake it from time to time to get all the CO2 out and get the yeast that's settling back in solution.

I've made beer starters before and am used to seeing some krausen. I haven't seen that with this mead yeast yet. Is that right? I was curious about the smell too. It's a strong apple smell with maybe some sulfur? I don't want to call it vinegar though. What should I be expecting with an apple juice starter? Should I taste the starter tomorrow when I make my mead and if so what should it taste like? I normally taste a bit of my beer starters before I pitch them to see if they taste off. I have a dry yeast for a back up should my starter be bad.

I'd like any feedback on my recipe too if anyone has any thoughts on it. I planned to smash up some golden delicious apples and add about halfway through fermentation. Should I wait till 2/3's is done? Should I pasturize them with some heat before I add them?

I appreciate any help you folks can provide.
 

KenSchramm

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Looks like pretty normal behavior to me. Apple fermentations frequently throw sulfur, and the krausen you're used to in malt starters is from protein that apple juice has very little of.

Taste the starter at will. I doubt you'll find any problems.

Your ingredient list sounds like it will create more than 3 gallons of volume. You could dissolve the honey in the juice and then add H20 to reach your desired final volume.

Get to a high level of ETOH (10% or higher) before adding the washed and smashed apples, and you should be fine.

KDS
 
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interplexr

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I'll be fermenting in a 5 gallon carboy to start. I wanted to make sure I had a little more than 3 gallons so when I racked to my 3 gallong carboy for secondary/aging it would fill it to the top without having to add water. I wasn't sure if that would be good to do.

Would it hurt leaving it in the primary, add the apples when fermentation is far enough, and then rack and leave until bottling? Do I need to rack any more to keep off flavors from getting into the mead?
 
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interplexr

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Should I worry about oxidation in this starter if I pitch the whole thing (1.25 qts approximately)? I've been shaking it from time to time with the air lock on to keep CO2 down to a minimum. I wouldn't think I've introduced a lot of extra oxygen that way but I could be wrong.

Thanks for the help so far.
 
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