Hello Tim, :)
Yes, it's all a learning lesson as I do this. I'm glad though that I didn't loose all four starters.
Give the containers plenty of head space, like at least 50% air in the jars, open them periodically and either stir or shake them to get oxygen dissolved in the juice.
That is indeed what I did. Although the opening and shaking part was probably four days later than I should have done it. So it appears that my only mistake was to not start allowing oxygen in by opening the lid and then closing it, then shaking the jar multiple times a day.
This is probably a good test run to see what works. I would be inclined to get some more starters going to see if you can improve on the process. Maybe see what happens when you only half-fill a jar with juice, shake it vigorously (till it gets really foamy), then drop some apple peel in it?
Why would I want to do that if I have a good smelling starter that is vigorously fermenting? (See my notes below)
Oxygen is VERY important to get wild yeasts started. This is true for your full-sized batch too. Make sure you get as much oxygen into the juice as possible in the beginning. Once the fermentation becomes vigorous, you don't need or want any extra oxygen.
I need to clarify what you brought up here. If I'm using a very vigorously fermenting starter in the main larger batch of apple juice. Is it still necessary to get oxygen via shaking or stirring into the main batch? I thought the point of the starter was to inoculate the main batch so it takes off on it's own? Thanks
Ok so the three starters are all bubbling/fermenting very vigorously now. So much so, that CO2 is leaking out of the tightly closed lid. And opening the lid gets a very satisfying sound burst of CO2 coming out. It's still the same case as last time where one jar with the apple peels in it smells particularly nicer than the other two. I'd describe the smell as more apple-y and sweeter in comparison to the others with no apparent "off" smells. Where as the other two smell a little off. Like maybe a hint of vinegar, or slightly musty/moldy smelling. Even though there does not appear to be mold on them. It's not that the other two are terrible. But certainly given the choice, my nose definitely recognizes the better of the three. So I think today is the day to juice the apples for the main batch.
As far as my concerns about having too much sediment or pulp from juicing the apples versus a traditional pressing. I don't think it is going to be much of a problem. What I've found is that the pulp shows up in two ways. There is a course and heavy type that sinks to the bottom. This doesn't seem to be a lot, and I'm guessing it will reduce in size as the yeasts eat away at it. The other part is a lighter than the juice foamy layer that stays on top. And left to it's own for a few days it solidifies. I found this out when I dumped the moldy starter with out the peel. Although perhaps the full primary fermentation may change it, I don't know. I think when I rack the cider to secondary I'll either be able to remove that top layer pretty easily. Or it will stay in the jar with the bottom layer as I pour it into secondary.
Peace & Love from a vegan :)