Aging on wood

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Aging on wood

Post by Guest » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:38 am

Hello All,
Does anyone in the readership know whether it is better to use green, as opposed to dried wood, for product aging? I am currently using apple wood that was obtained from live 1" branches...leaves and fruit still on the tree. Dimensioned the wood to approx. 1/2" X 6", and heavily charred all surfaces with acetylene torch. I believe the apple varietal is a Strawberry Gravenstein....

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Post by defcon4 » Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:22 am

As far as I know, the wood is supposed to be completely dry and non-resinous before toasting or charring. I've never used wood that wasn't dried and I've only used oak so I don't know what will happen in your case.

We're installing wood flooring in my house and I gathered up a bunch of end/scrap pieces, cut them into strips, and toasted them in the oven for 3 hours at 400degF. It was red oak flooring and I just used it in a batch of UJSM, so far it tastes pretty good, much better than the bitter oak cubes I've bought at wine shops.
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Post by Husker » Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:12 pm

I believe you are going to get quite a bit of "not too good" flavored volatiles in green wood.

When coopers make barrels, I think they age the wood outdoors for quite some time (3 years??) This allows time for the wood to lose the sap and other volatile stuff which would not be good in your drink.

Also as a side note, most aging wood is heartwood, and not small limbs.

H.

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Post by mtnwalker2 » Tue Nov 27, 2007 4:47 pm

Agreed to all above. I am a timber farmer. What you can do is split or chip to the size you want to use, Put into a freezer, not sealed into a freezer bag or such. Let it just freeze and form ice crystals, then put out into the sun on a warm sunny day, or next best in front of a fan forced heater. Repeat till no more crystals form during freezing. And then maybe one extra. This is the equivalant of years of air drying in a one weeks time. Better actually. If you really want to speed it up, freeze, microwave till totally dry ( all obvious moisture gone, and no steam), repeat. Several day's and very dry wood. both of these methods will actually retain a lot more of the essential flavors you want, without the yucky sap oils.

Obtain the wood from dormant wood if at all possible. Doing this will give you better quality flavor than any you can buy. Most oak and hardwoods are harvested when the sap is still in the wood. Less splitting as it falls, the saw blades go dull quick against ice, and people don't work in cold much anymore. Plus getting eq. and logs out in winter snows and mud.

A friend of mine did a study, per my suggestion, and offered to prune some overgrown apple trees, and a few plums also to a neighbor, if he could have all the trimmings. It was somewhat overgrown. It took him about 5 days total on weekends to do the several hundred trees, load it all and haul home. Then a day to cut into lengths. He kept a few, and loaded up old tomatoe bins 4 X 4
X2' deep on pallets. Hauled to 2 campgrounds, with arrangement, and sold by all you could stuff into a certain size bucket for a price, don't know the figures there. He grossed $18,000 in 3 months.
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Post by Husker » Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:22 pm

Thanks for that method walker.

So, the time to "harvest" is winter? Makes a lot of sense when you think about it. The sap is mostly gone, but the heartwood is still wood.

We have mostly Bur oak here. Really notty stuff (so not usually used for timber, and would not be good to make casks out of) but I think it has a pleasant oak smell (better than red oak). I will give it a try and get a log this winter.

H.

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Post by defcon4 » Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:16 pm

GREAT thread, thanks for all that info mtnwalker. Now I'm gonna have to have someone hide my saw for me so I won't go cut down some of those old oak trees in my yard. Guess I'll just have to keep harvesting oak from my scrap oak flooring
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Re: Aging on wood

Post by rumbaba » Thu Nov 29, 2007 5:17 am

Guest wrote:Hello All,
Does anyone in the readership know whether it is better to use green, as opposed to dried wood, for product aging? I am currently using apple wood that was obtained from live 1" branches...leaves and fruit still on the tree. Dimensioned the wood to approx. 1/2" X 6", and heavily charred all surfaces with acetylene torch. I believe the apple varietal is a Strawberry Gravenstein....
Well, this an eye opener of a question. I have read the responses and they seem at odds to the information given to me for a previous post about pear wood. This is not to say the responses are incorrect, I would certainly be more inclined to defer to their experience.(In the words of Joh Bjok-Peterson);Having said that, let me say this;
1.Cut your wood to the desired shapes when it is green, it is an absolute bitch to cut when it "dried"
2.I cut and toasted my pear wood green, and it is working a treat.
3.The reason builders/woodwokers season the timber is so that they get a wood that will not have movement/shrinkage/expandage in their final product.
4. I WOULD recommend harvesting the wood when the sap is down; more for the tree's sake.
5.This is my personal experience, and not to be considered as gospel.

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Post by shadylane » Fri Nov 30, 2007 6:07 am

mtnwalker2 You just stated one of the aging tricks used by one of the best old time moonshiners "Mousy Raimer". start with the sap down, freeze, thow, dry and repeat, then split the wood and put in the gallon mason jars of shine for a few weeks.

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Post by mtnwalker2 » Fri Nov 30, 2007 7:08 am

A word of caution.

The last timber sale I made was all to be exported from the US. I visited the mill, and they showed me where it was all being immersed into an extremely toxic vat of liquid prior to being kiln dried. No one was allowed to handle that wood from that point on. This was required by law to kill any virus, bacteria, or grubs for exported woods.
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Post by defcon4 » Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:37 am

mtnwalker2 wrote:A word of caution.

The last timber sale I made was all to be exported from the US. I visited the mill, and they showed me where it was all being immersed into an extremely toxic vat of liquid prior to being kiln dried. No one was allowed to handle that wood from that point on. This was required by law to kill any virus, bacteria, or grubs for exported woods.
They had to have handled it after it was dried though right? Maybe the chemicals evaporate during drying? If we've been drinking spirits from oak barrels for this long, we're probably fine as long we don't use pressure treated lumber (and I've never seen pressure treated oak).
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Post by mtnwalker2 » Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:43 am

They only did this to woods they were exporting. And no they didn't handle it from that point on. It was deadpacked and bound. They used the new types of kilns that are totally sealed and a vacuum process somewhat like a microwave is used to dry it, then wrapped and set aside for shipping. That is all machinery operated, though I am sure it would be safe to handle after drying, since it would have to handled for whatever use its going to be used for. Just worried someone might be tempted to use some of that for ageing with a strong solvent.
> "You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an event - it is a
>habit" Aristotle

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apple wood

Post by partonken » Sun Dec 02, 2007 1:57 pm

im in total aggrement with harvesting wood in the dormant season,
espesially apple wood! I burn apple wood and it takes 2 years to totally dry out, because its full of resin,, If its green it could take longer.

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Post by mtnwalker2 » Sun Dec 02, 2007 2:05 pm

Use the method I posted above, and you can dry it in a matter of a week or 2 at the most.


A question for some history buffs. Chestnut! I have small trees and much old chestnut boards and bigger timbers. Does anyone know if this was ever used for ageing? I would rather doubt it, as it really doesn't smell all that good when sawing or planeing it. Thought I would ask anyways.
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Post by Husker » Sun Dec 02, 2007 4:15 pm

I bet if the smell is not good, then using it for flavoring would not be good.

Case in point, the pin oak. That tree smells BAD (and around here, most trees when young have to be fed iron supplements, drilled into the underbark). The pin's smell bad, and are terrible to age with (I know from experience :( :( ) I bet if you tried with chestnut, you would find the same, that the final product becomes undrinkable.

Every wood I have seen recommended to use to age, has at least smelled pretty good (as far as wood goes) from the start.

H.

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Post by new_moonshiner » Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:16 pm

I took Wineo's advise and picked up some of the Jack D's smoker wood chips from Wally.. now that was a good move ..thanks again Wineo for sharing the the info.. :D

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Post by spiritsmith » Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:37 pm

mtnwalker2 wrote:Use the method I posted above, and you can dry it in a matter of a week or 2 at the most.


A question for some history buffs. Chestnut! I have small trees and much old chestnut boards and bigger timbers. Does anyone know if this was ever used for ageing? I would rather doubt it, as it really doesn't smell all that good when sawing or planeing it. Thought I would ask anyways.
Chestnut is used in vinegar bbls for making balsamic
thats the only time I've heard of using it in any way...but I've thought of that myself but never could get the wood very easily.
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Post by Husker » Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:38 pm

mtnwalker2, I just got my copy of Foxfire *, and reading in the chapter about wood, it quotes:
There are several ways to cure wood. The method chosen depends upon the size of the pieces and how quickly they were needed. Very small pieces which would fit into a pot were boiled. "Sometimes we boiled them all day and overnight, and they was cured good" says Harry Brown. The water would draw the sap out, and when the water itself evaporated, the wood would be ready to use.


Would this method work for "aging" raw oak to use for charring and aging sprits?


H.

* I had not heard of Foxfire books before. Heard it from this forum, and yes, they seem to be a WEALTH of information (hard to put down until I read them from end to end).

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Post by mtnwalker2 » Sat Dec 22, 2007 4:20 am

Husker,

Liveing in the mountains here, I have been collecting the Foxfire books since they first came out. Now I think its time to dig them back out of storage for rereading.

That process would indeed completely dry the wood, and would work well for some purposes. However, I would guess that method would also carry a lot of the flavors and good components away along with the water. Ie. I think it would be a very bland ageing wood at that point.

The freeze dry method would be a better choice, i am guessing.
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Post by Husker » Sat Dec 22, 2007 6:52 am

Thanks walker. I had a suspicion that the boiling would remove some of the goodies with the bad stuff. Thanks though, for the freeze dry method.

H.

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Post by MisterSteve124 » Sat Dec 22, 2007 9:46 am

Its ok to use oak from the hardware store right? As long as it's not pressure treated or anything, duh

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Post by defcon4 » Sat Dec 22, 2007 2:35 pm

MisterSteve124 wrote:Its ok to use oak from the hardware store right? As long as it's not pressure treated or anything, duh
I'm using untreated oak hardwood flooring scraps right now (red oak not white oak) and I haven't died yet, but I'm not highly educated in wood so don't count mine as a professional opinion.
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Post by mtnwalker2 » Sat Dec 22, 2007 4:26 pm

Sorry folks, but I guess I am going to butt in again. Even white oak, properly steam kiln dried- vs air dried for a good while and then just a quicky of a kilning, is about like boiling it. That method, and the newer method or a vacuum, high frequency magnetic wave, simular to a microwave, takes from the wood a huge amount of stuff that naturally aged, air dried wood retain. Par boil a venison roast, or pork ribs for 24 hours and see what it would taste like. Put em in a microwave for 5 or 6 hours, and try to render some gravy from them. Even if you could, what would it taste like. Sorry, wood, its juice and character are the same way.

And as i mentioned in an earlier post, what if some of that wood were treated to go overseas, but shipment were cancelled and sold local. Its

legal. I'd rather have an all plastic and lead still, like Goose eye's Dead man still.

Get some good white oak, apple, maple or whatever woods and dry them yourself. Its quick and easy and safe. Otherwise, just use liquid smoke or whatever. Safer, and at least it will have some color and flavor. HA.

Thats my 2 cents in the pot as boiling chips.

PS. Red oak flooring, if #1 or even #2 is pretty much all red oak. Cabin grade sometimes has black oak, and or piss oak mixed to give it the cabin color differences. I guess you can tell what the name my impart to your hard won spirits.

Pardon my expounding, just want to keep you all around for next Christmas also.

Have a most joyful and meaningful Christmas.
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Post by Ricky » Sat Dec 22, 2007 5:33 pm

i thought i had done good when my lumber grading buddy got me some dry kiln white oak culls. i charred them real nicely and covered with liquor. 2 weeks later i sampled it and was not empressed. sorta tasted like burnt wood. got out my hatchet and a short cut from a fallen limb that i knew was about 18 months old. charred it up and covered with liquor. waited 2 weeks and sampled. the vanilla was there and it actually tasted sweet. much better wood than the dry kiln.
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Post by HookLine » Sat Dec 22, 2007 5:57 pm

Used red wine barrels from a winery is a pretty good source of oak. I got half a 320 litre barrel for $75, and it had shitloads of good wood in it. Got some nice red wine flavour in it too.
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Post by rumbaba » Sun Dec 23, 2007 6:01 am

Husker wrote:I bet if the smell is not good, then using it for flavoring would not be good.

Case in point, the pin oak. That tree smells BAD (and around here, most trees when young have to be fed iron supplements, drilled into the underbark). The pin's smell bad, and are terrible to age with (I know from experience :( :( ) I bet if you tried with chestnut, you would find the same, that the final product becomes undrinkable.

Every wood I have seen recommended to use to age, has at least smelled pretty good (as far as wood goes) from the start.

H.
Yairs, couldnt agree more on the "smell" selection method. Fresh pear; bewdifull- good results, akin to oak. Fresh peach; YUK, result Yuk. I have also learnt to toast all my wood. The last batch I kept to be used as green went mouldy(no, I didnt dry it properly, but I have learnt to do so in future). Could possibly make a bluevein(rocquefort, stilton) spirit!

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Post by mtnwalker2 » Sun Dec 23, 2007 7:45 pm

Hey all you schnapps drinkers, I have Basswood for sale for ageing your spirits. With a cracker, a sardine, an anchovie, and perhaps a tad of herring, then with a 1/2" slice of limburger cheese on top, you would have something appropriate to wash it down with.

And Yeah! its fresh split, not kiln dried so it has all the aroma and taste unreduced. Ummmmm, Errrrrrrr......Yummy... Open the windows!
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