View Full Version : Microwaving Oak

05-31-2006, 10:59 PM
So, my usual method for adding oak chips involves a 10 to 20 second scalding in boiling water, in order to open up the outer pores and surfaces in the wood, and to kill external micro-organisms. I'm generally more concerned with the latter over the former, since time in the carboy will accomplish the pore issue nicely without my help anyway.

It occured to me that microwaving oak chips to kill unwanted critters could do more than take care of the ones on the surface of the wood, but, in fact kill the ones which may, in theory, be found deeper in. This is almost certainly just paranoia, as many people do exactly nothing to their oak before addition and have no problems. I have time on my hands, however, and I spend much-too-much of it thinking.

Be that as it may, tonight I nuked approximately 1 tablespoon of medium American oak chips in a coffee mug for 32 seconds on the HIGH setting. This proved to be too much, and they were scorched (steam and smoke resulted). I smelled that delicious oak odor we all love at about the 20 second mark. I think that once that's happened, it may already be over-done.

My next try will be at 50% power for, maybe, 20-25 seconds.

And why am I doing this, exactly? Heck, I don't know. It's in my head, man, and I just gotsta!


05-31-2006, 11:51 PM
If you get lightly toasted oak, you could oven bake them for ?? minutes to kill the critters, and get a medium or heavy toasting in the process 8)

I've tried toasting for about 10 mins in a light heat, but it didn't seem to do much. I don't know what the real temperatures are for toasting (and I've been too lazy to research it, so far).

06-01-2006, 12:00 AM
Well, my microwaving experiment (Round 1) seemed to go from Medium Toast to Medium Toast Plus in 32 seconds. I don't like the smell now, though.


06-01-2006, 12:59 AM
Toasting is a pretty rigorous process and is heavily monitored throughout.

The various toast levels are derived by alternating the temperature given off by the fires between 300-450 degrees F on various time cycles. A lot of coopers are using a system that is touch controlled on an LCD screen and when the heat level rises or drops to a threshold above or below, they'll add wood to the fire, or spray it with water to cool it down a bit.

That's a gross oversimplification (since I'm not all that well versed on specific toasting techniques) but you get the idea. Also the fire and proximity of the fire has a direct effect on taste that I don't beleive is produced by ambient, inductive or convective heat in the absence of flame. I might be wrong about that though.



09-24-2006, 06:33 PM
i thought oak chips sounded fun, so i think im gonna try it. but i think ill need a bit of help...

how much chips for 5 gallons of straight mead(im gonna make a recipe with just honey, wanter, and nutrients, i dont know what yall call it, traditional maybe?), and how long? Id assume you put them in only during aging after the fermentation is complete?

ooh ya i think im gonna use buckwheat honey? bad idea to use all buckwheat honey?

09-24-2006, 07:07 PM
Hey UFC,

I'd recommend using cubes instead of chips. Fuller, slower, more consistant and overall better extraction than chips. Chips impart the mead with an oaky flavor that is mono-dimensional by comparison to cubes, dominos or staves.

For a five gallon batch I'd recommend 2 ounce of oak cubes (I like medium toast American Oak). You can go in the primary to emulate a barrel fermentation, or in the secondary as well. Check about 2-4 weeks after initial contact to check the extraction and overall flavor and character. If it's where you want it then rack off of them and go to long term aging/storage or bottling/kegging.

Oak matches up beautifully to Buckwheat honey, I don't know if you've ever tasted Jadwiga, but if you have you'll understand the synergy created by the two.

Hope that helps,


09-24-2006, 09:18 PM
any suggestions on yeast for buckwheat honey? id prefer as high an alcoholic content as possible and some residual sugar....

so i suppose an ale yeast, 15+ pounds of honey, lots of nutrients, and the cubes?

09-24-2006, 09:45 PM
Flor Sherry yeast is great for buckwheat and it's a high alcohol yeast as well.