Ok, that last batch of cider turned out quite well. Very much like Strongbow in taste. I used a rather tart store-bought filtered apple juice as a base (Mott’s brand, to be precise).
The “Spike Your Juice” kits come with the yeast in little packages, pre-measured for a 64oz bottle of juice. It’s not raw yeast though, the yeast is encapsulated in dehydrated cane juice and an emulsifier. The cane juice serves as starter nutrient, and it seems the emulsifier holds it all together in the packet, and then serves as a mild fining agent after fermentation is complete – my cider was a crystal clear amber color.
There’s no yeasty taste in the resulting cider, although there still is a slight funky smell to it. However, this is NOT present when you’re actually drinking the cider. My girlfriend even pronounced it drinkable, and she’s a picky one when it comes to stuff like this.
I started another batch last night, this time a full gallon, with 2 of the SYJ packets.
O.G. of 1.052.
This time I’m using a Kroger store brand juice that has a darker color, and an overall sweeter taste than the Motts, not as tart.
Aiming for something closer to Woodchuck than Strongbow this time.
The speckles you see in the cider are the yeast pellets. It takes a day or so for the juice to soak into them, once that happens the yeast will feed readily on the now-hydrated cane juice, and move on to the sugars in the apple juice itself.
Primary fermentation with this yeast takes almost exactly a week, and once it’s done it just stops and clears up fast. I expect to be racking it with the xylitol and a little more sugar for some carbonation by the middle of next week.