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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > home made oak cubes?
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Old 08-14-2012, 03:45 AM   #1
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Default home made oak cubes?

I have a nice English Oak tree in my front yard. I'd like to cut a branch down and make oak cubes to put in a Bourbon barrel porter deliciousness.

I know that oak used to make wine barrels are "seasoned" for something like two years. Does anyone know if the "seasoning" is merely to get the moisture out of the wood?

If so, could I simply use a dehydrator to accomplish this in a day and be on my way?

Has anyone out there used home made oak chips? Anything I should know?

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Old 08-14-2012, 04:54 PM   #2
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Most oak cubes come with some level of "toast" - light, medium or heavy - so you might be better off using an oven rather than a dehydrator, so in addition to drying them out you also get something similar to an actual bourbon barrel. I'm not sure how long you cook them for as I've never made my own, but you might be able to look at some of the commerically available oak cubes to determine what the different toast levels should look like.

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Old 08-14-2012, 05:43 PM   #3
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I gotta imagine toasting green wood would result in a different flavor than toasting dry, seasoned wood. I would think the sap and resins in the wood would change over time, and it's not just about dehydrating the moisture out.
I wonder if the oak spiral makers use seasoned wood or relatively newly cut wood.

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Old 08-15-2012, 01:14 AM   #4
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Gingerdawg, you are getting the idea. I'm not asking about toast levels, only about whether dehydrating the cubes would reach similar results as seasoned wood.

What are oak spirals?

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Old 08-16-2012, 01:24 AM   #5
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Sprials are used for oaking wine and beer. The advantage is supposed to be that they have lots of surface area. see here: http://www.infusionspiral.com/infusion-spiral-benefits

Looking at the info on that page, they say they air dry the oak for 24 months before toasting. So that might answer the original question.

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Old 03-04-2013, 02:45 PM   #6
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Resurrecting an old thread...but, if I am understanding this correctly, if you wanted to make your own home-made oak-flavoring-chips/cubes, all you would have to do is:

1. Get some oak from a live (or recently fallen) tree.
2. Leave it somewhere dry for 2 years (in a garage, shed, closet, or covered deck).
3. Chop into chips/cubes.
4. Toast to desired level in oven.

Does the specific type of oak tree matter? Will a Willow Oak work? Red Oak? Should it be only the heart-wood? Do you de-bark it before drying?

I've actually got some nice sized chunks of Red Oak I choped up for firewood, from a nice fresh tree. They have been sitting in my woodpile for a couple months, maybe I'll toss them into the attic for a couple years and get myself a nice supply of flavor chips in 2 years...

Anyone ever done anything similar to this?

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Old 03-04-2013, 07:03 PM   #7
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I'm thinking that if wood could be dehydrated for barrel use, coopers wouldn't let it season for 2 years. If it were that simple, the big boys would do it. I would also imagine the type of oak and where it comes from on the tree matters.

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Old 03-05-2013, 12:42 AM   #8
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You are right on the money. Except that I believe the type of oak tree makes a difference. Ive never tried though.

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Old 03-05-2013, 01:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LowNotes View Post
Resurrecting an old thread...but, if I am understanding this correctly, if you wanted to make your own home-made oak-flavoring-chips/cubes, all you would have to do is:

1. Get some oak from a live (or recently fallen) tree.
2. Leave it somewhere dry for 2 years (in a garage, shed, closet, or covered deck).
3. Chop into chips/cubes.
4. Toast to desired level in oven.

Does the specific type of oak tree matter? Will a Willow Oak work? Red Oak? Should it be only the heart-wood? Do you de-bark it before drying?

I've actually got some nice sized chunks of Red Oak I choped up for firewood, from a nice fresh tree. They have been sitting in my woodpile for a couple months, maybe I'll toss them into the attic for a couple years and get myself a nice supply of flavor chips in 2 years...

Anyone ever done anything similar to this?
I have made some oak cubes, but I cut them from scraps of lumber, so I didn't need the drying step. I used white oak, which is what barrels are made from. When I baked them in the oven my whole house was filled with that acrid, tannin smell from the oak. It's not pleasant.

Flip-flop #2 and #3 in your process. If you cut the green wood into small cubes first, it will air-dry more quickly. Just spread them out on an old cookie sheet or similar and store at room temp. You can probably get it dry in months, not years. Then toast it in an oven.
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Old 03-05-2013, 11:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JehovahsWitnessProtection View Post
I have made some oak cubes, but I cut them from scraps of lumber, so I didn't need the drying step. I used white oak, which is what barrels are made from. When I baked them in the oven my whole house was filled with that acrid, tannin smell from the oak. It's not pleasant.

Flip-flop #2 and #3 in your process. If you cut the green wood into small cubes first, it will air-dry more quickly. Just spread them out on an old cookie sheet or similar and store at room temp. You can probably get it dry in months, not years. Then toast it in an oven.
Great info, thanks! I should have thought about switching #2/3, as the increased surface area can only speed up the process
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