HomeRoast Digest


Topic: is red oak ok to roast with? (36 msgs / 1426 lines)
1) From: john
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
just a quick question.
i've been roasting on the grill all summer using a cast iron skillet and =
wooden spoon.  i just recently bought a lid and fashioned a paddle out =
of a new piece of red oak that i picked up at lowes.  during the first =
roast i saw a bit of moisture seeping out of the oak.  do you reckon =
it's safe to have that wood in contact with the beans?
thanks,
john

2) From: Aaron
Regular oak I don't see where it would be a problem. BUT...
the " I picked it up at lowes" part of it kind of scares me.
Most wood found in places like that has been treated with chemicals, 
some of which can be deadly, like arsenic for example.
Im sure the sap is going to come out of the wood as it gets heated, and 
well, blackjack oak is great for smoking foods with, but unless you are 
absolutely sure it is not treated, Id be very wary of letting it contact 
food or even using it for food preparation at all.
Most construction lumbers have been treated with a variety of chemicals, 
for a variety of reasons... none of which I bet you'd want to put into 
your body.
Aaron

3) From: JanoMac
<Snip>
Hardwoods(like Red Oak, or any other North American oak for that matter)
sold in the USA are NOT treated other than being dried in a kiln.
Most wood found in places like this are NOT treated.
Arsenic is NOT used as a preservative in hardwoods of any kind sold in the
USA and softwood lumber treated with arsenic is unlawful to sell for
consumer lumber except for very special ground contact uses under limited
circumstances. Most large chains like Lowes, Home Depot, Menards, and so on
have stopped carrying any treated lumber that still uses arsenic or other
particularly harmful chemicals in their treated lumber. Most use pressure
treatments to add borate salts and similar chemicals that are safe for your
kids to play on and are safe to eat from or have skin contact with (like
sitting) even when wet.
So...
A piece of red oak from any typical hardware chain is perfectly good for
making treenware (wooden spoons or other materials you can prepare/serve
food on or eat with) and unless YOU have previously applied stains or
finishes, almost any species of American hardwood can be used for cooking
fires.
Kirk
List lurker for about 3 months
Roasting for about 6 months
Enjoying coffee about 30 years
Working with wood as well as with wildlife & forest products over 30 years
Edumacated at Purdue in Biology, Forestry, & Wildlife Ecology
Currently teaching Biology to the youth of America

4) From: john
thanks, Kirk, that puts my mind at ease!  -john

5) From: Andy Thomas
--- john  wrote:
[...]
<Snip>
I don't know about coffee, but oak gives a variety of
flavors to wine -- all of them good (provided there
are no spoilage microbes present).
Andy
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around http://mail.yahoo.com

6) From: Aaron
Doesn't jack daniels age their whiskeys in oak barrels?
oak is good for a smoker too and burns hot enough you dont need coals 
really, just get a few pieces of the wood going and you have it all in one.
I wonder if roasting coffee over an oak fire  would give it some 
interesting and appealing flavors.
Aaron

7) From: Aaron
Kirk, that is true NOW.
but they only stopped manufacturing the wood using that process in 2003 
/ 2004.  It should be safe, one hopes, and hopefully an old piece of 
lumber hasn't found it's way to the store.  Stuff does sit in warehouses 
for years sometimes, and people do make mistakes, don't destroy stuff 
they should have,  turn away when airplanes go down wrong runways, etc 
and bad things happen.
You yourself said 'most' wood is not treated, but that doesn't mean ALL 
wood is not treated.
There might not be arsenic in the woods anymore but still, I don't think 
I want to ingest a cornucopia of salts added to woods.
Borate salts, hmm I use boric acid (borates) to kill insects, it 
dissolves their exoskeleton basically.
Many salts, copper salts come to mind, are very toxic to humans, and 
given that's part of why they treat wood, not only as a preservative, 
but to keep critters out, im not sure id want to risk it.  For lack of a 
better way to put it, yes it may be deemed 'safe for exposure' but that 
doesn't necessarily make it 'food grade' safe.
yes hardwoods are great for making stuff like that IF one can be 
absolutely sure it has not been treated. Running around in the forest 
playing paul bunyan chopping down trees to build a log cabin is one 
thing, you know it's virgin wood.  but once it's hit the processing 
plants, and given wood is not a 'food item' there is no checks and 
balances in it that way. .. then that can change.
Me personally, id ask in the store if it was treated wood, and Id ask 
someone who hopefully might have a bit of knowledge about the product, 
and not the six dollar an hour drone running the forklift.
Aaron

8) From: jim gundlach
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John,
    Red oak should pose no problems.  I'm not sure what kind of  
flavor the red oak juices might add to your coffee but I am sure you  
get less this way than when coffee beans are roasted directly over a  
wood fire.
    Pecan Jim
On Sep 4, 2006, at 6:41 PM, john wrote:
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John,   Red oak should =
pose no problems.  I'm not sure what kind of flavor the red oak juices =
might add to your coffee but I am sure you get less this way than when =
coffee beans are roasted directly over a wood fire.    =
 Pecan Jim
On Sep 4, 2006, at 6:41 PM, john =
wrote:
just a quick = question.    = --Apple-Mail-5-904253687--

9) From: jim gundlach
I've roasted coffee in the Androck over the fire popcorn poppers  
before.  I like the added flavor but I like pecan better.  IIRC there  
is a small roaster out on the west coast that regularly roasts over  
oak fires.  I don't remember the name.
      Jim Gundlach
On Sep 4, 2006, at 11:32 PM, Aaron wrote:
<Snip>

10) From: Robert Avery
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Andy ... I wouldn't use it. The fact is .... the oak they use for aging =
whiskey and wine is white oak. Big differents. There is a lot of acid in =
both types of oak, if I were to use one of them it would be white oak. =
Good luck, Later, Bob

11) From: Michael Wascher
Red oak is the usual choice for wine-making equipment. It's used for the
crushers, separators and presses.
On 9/5/06, Robert Avery  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind.
  - Dr. Seuss

12) From: Alchemist John
Listen to this man - he is the resident expert on wood fired roasting.
That said, and flavor aside, it is easy to tell if the wood in 
question is treated with anything.  Look.  Treated wood will either 
have a green tint from the chemicals used or have 100's of regular, 
usually vertical (to the post) marks where they injected the 
wood.  And if it is freshly treated it will be heavier than "regular" 
wood, but that is a poor indicator.  Color and/or marks.  Having 
spent a lot of time buying wood, I can't ever recall seeing oak treated.
At 03:42 9/5/2006, you wrote:
<Snip>
John Nanci
AlChemist at large
Zen Roasting , Blending & Espresso pulling by Gestalthttp://www.chocolatealchemy.com/

13) From: Robert Avery
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Well Michael .... say what you want. I have made a great deal of wine =
.. I live in the middle of wine country here in the north east ..... =
I've made repair parts for the things you talk about .... and they were =
all white oak. As a matter of fact ... most of the barrels used for wine =
are discarded whiskey barrels, which by law can not be used twice for =
the use of whiskey making. They are purchased by the wineries because it =
reduces their cost and can be used by them more than once. Now .... with =
the smoking issue ... I have smoked a great deal of fish and meat .... I =
have tried many different kinds of wood, both fruit tree and hard wood. =
I don't know if you have ever used oak for smoking food ... but I'll =
tell you .... it taste like S..t !!!! The tannic acid  leaves a terrible =
taste when burnt. Some people might like it ... but I've never talked to =
anyone that did. I wouldn't hesitate storing anything in oak ... because =
insects and alike just don't like it ... it's pretty much impervious to =
rot. Enough said, Thanks for letting me vent, Later, Bob       ---- =
Original Message ----- 
  From: Michael Wascher 
  To: =
homeroast 
  Sent: Tuesday, September 05, 2006 8:07 AM
  Subject: Re: +is red oak ok to roast with?
  Red oak is the usual choice for wine-making equipment. It's used for =
the crushers, separators and presses. 
  On 9/5/06, Robert Avery < raverys12> =
wrote: 
    Andy ... I wouldn't use it. The fact is .... the oak they use for =
aging whiskey and wine is white oak. Big differents. There is a lot of =
acid in both types of oak, if I were to use one of them it would be =
white oak. Good luck, Later, Bob

14) From: Robert Avery
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
John ... I by know means am an expert ... just stating my experiences. =
They do use oak to smoke ... I was just saying ... red oak is not the =
desirable wood to use. I have used white oak. Didn't really care for it, =
each to his own taste. Most of the repair parts I have made for some of =
the wineries here were white oak. That is what they want. I'd make them =
out of balsa wood if that is what they wanted. If I was building a piece =
of furniture ... I'd use red oak ... good looking stuff ... but white =
oak is a much cleaner wood as far as imparting taste. We would put =
toasted wood chips in the wine to impart the flavor ...cheaper than =
barrels at $500. to $600. a throw. Didn't care for that taste either. I =
do have a site that broadens on the issue a bit, and apologize if I have =
miss represented myself as an expert, that I'm not !!!   Like I said ... =
enough said, I would like to hear more on the outcome of the use for the =
beans. Thanks for letting state my view. later, Bobhttp://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06229/713988-34.stm

15) From: Leo Zick
Treated wood is def obvious.  Treated oak - man that's a fancy lumberyard!
If the blatently obvious signs of treated wood seem to trick you, it will
also burn with a different color than 'normal' wood.
Im curious to see how oaked coffee would taste. It works for wine!

16) From: Tom Bellhouse
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Coming at the oak question from a different direction:  I'm a =
furnace-type glass blower.  We use wooden tools (soaked in water) to =
form hot glass objects we're blowing, and have to be careful about the =
wood we use when making our own tools.  Most woods, including oak, exude =
gums when hot, and those gums will leave a nasty mark on the piece being =
made.  We use fruit wood for tools, the best being cherry, apple or =
peach.  They don't produce that exudate.  Maybe that's a reason to avoid =
oak for stirring the roast, assuming the gums might leave a residual =
flavor.
Tom in GA

17) From: Leo Zick
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
nice summary of the oak process. :)  you dont like oak aging for your wine?
i live by it! :)
 
youre right re: use of red oak. i think there are a few reason why its not
used for wine. ill guess at some.  cost, its much more expensive. its harder
wood, and probably doesnt impart flavor as well, this also makes it harder
to work with.  flavor. smell the 2, they are completely different, and id
venture to say red oak doesnt 'taste' good.
 
for coffee, id prolly try varying toasts of american white oak, what you
would use for smoking meats. wine suppliers also have some nice chips. hell,
id be willing to ship the OP some french and american just to see how the
experiment turns out!  
From: Robert Avery [mailto:raverys12] 
Sent: Tuesday, September 05, 2006 8:49 AM
To: homeroast
Subject: Re: +is red oak ok to roast with?
John ... I by know means am an expert ... just stating my experiences. They
do use oak to smoke ... I was just saying ... red oak is not the desirable
wood to use. I have used white oak. Didn't really care for it, each to his
own taste. Most of the repair parts I have made for some of the wineries
here were white oak. That is what they want. I'd make them out of balsa wood
if that is what they wanted. If I was building a piece of furniture ... I'd
use red oak ... good looking stuff ... but white oak is a much cleaner wood
as far as imparting taste. We would put toasted wood chips in the wine to
impart the flavor ..cheaper than barrels at $500. to $600. a throw. Didn't
care for that taste either. I do have a site that broadens on the issue a
bit, and apologize if I have miss represented myself as an expert, that I'm
not !!!   Like I said ... enough said, I would like to hear more on the
outcome of the use for the beans. Thanks for letting state my view. later,
Bob
 http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06229/713988-34.stm

18) From: Michael Wascher
Bob,
My father was born & raised in a small Schwabian village in Hungary. It was
subsistence farming, the first 4 wheeled motorized vehicle he ever saw was
when the German army came through during WW2. The main cash crop was grapes,
made into wine & brandy. So he "made a lot of wine" -- if he didn't the
family didn't survive.
According to him the equipment was made of red oak -- or likely a European
oak similar to our red oak. Also, we used to make several barrels of wine
each year (fast forward several years to Ohio). Our crusher & press, small
scale commercial equipment, were made of red oak.
And, yes, we used recycled whiskey barrels, made of white oak.
I've never used oak for smoking, I prefer fruit & nut woods. However I've
had barbecued chicken & shark cooked over pine logs in the Bahamas. I was
working on a Navy base on Andros Island, meat cooked by a transplanted
Kentuckian who wouldn't give up his BBQ so he adapted to the available wood.
Not bad, a distinctive taste, and we had lots of beer to help the flavor. So
I presume you could at least get by with oak.
--MikeW
On 9/5/06, Robert Avery  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind.
  - Dr. Seuss

19) From: Robert Avery
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Yes .... European types of oak .... are sometimes mistaken for red oak. =
Actually they are what they call Brown Oak. Very expensive now days and =
almost imposable to get your hands on. I also think that when people see =
this type of oak in barrels they think its red oak. Actually that too is =
a type of brown oak, much different than Red Oak. This type of Brown oak =
or European Oak ... is much sought after for barrel making. Thanks, Bob

20) From: Dan Bollinger
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
John,  You'll be fine.  While wooden spoons for wet applications are not =
made of oak, but then roasting isn't a wet application!  The wood is not =
going to impart any noticeable flavor or aroma to the coffee since there =
is no significant water present, let alone time enough, to transfer the =
oak's tannins.  And, it's not like the wood is going to burn imparting =
any smoke, to speak of. Comparisons to wine and whiskey are, well, =
romantic, but highly exagerrated.  Both are wet processes that involve =
time, a LOT of time.  Roasting is neither.  Dan

21) From: Aaron
Obviously you have not used Blackjack oak to smoke anything.   Granted 
to each is own as to flavors and favorites but blackjack oak actually is 
very good when used for smoking foods.  Maybe you didn't let it age / 
cure long enough before burning it?  I hear some woods need to sit a 
while before being used for smoking.
Personally I like hickory / mesquite for beef and some pork, and 
maple/cherry for smoking hams.
I also have used apple, black walnut, blackjack oak, pecan and even 
burnt bay leaf branches to add a real nice flavor to some foods.
Aaron

22) From: Aaron
It was written:
We would put toasted wood chips in the wine to impart the flavor
===
It is a trick used for making whiskey as well to help add that 'aged oak 
barrel' flavor to it.  Roast up the wood a bit, throw it in the whiskey 
and let it set a little bit.  If what you made was too harsh, then a tad 
of glycerine would smooth it right out too.

23) From: JanoMac
<Snip>
but they only stopped manufacturing the wood using that process in 2003
/ 2004.  <<
As far as I know, the commercial hardwood lumber industry has never treated
any oaks (with arsenic compounds or any other preservatives) that have been
used for any consumer lumber product. The treated lumber issue only applies
to construction-grade softwoods.
I would NEVER use ANY treated softwood lumber for smoking/cooking food or
even for firewood in a campfire for that matter. I would burn ANY North
American hardwood I have purchased in a lumber yard in a campfire, smoker,
or the wood-burning stove in my shop.
...but that was not the topic that was originally brought up. Red Oak (or
white oak, black oak, pin oak, etc.) is safe. True, some oaks - especially
the red oak group - have more tannins (tannic acid) in them and may add a
sharp flavor, but they are safe.
Kirk

24) From: Steve
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
I happened to be glancing throught the list and came across this =
discussion.
Treated wood is NOT obvious and can be dangerous. I bought a wood =
burning insert last year and did a lot of research on it. And don't ask =
the workers at Lowes or HD - they don't know. A few years ago they =
changed the process to treat wood and dropped arsenic. But they still =
use chemicals. Sometimes it is injected while other wood can be just =
soaked or coated. And the real danger comes when burning it. Supposedly =
there is a test kit out there to test for arsenic but none of the stores =
have it in my area. I believe it can be ordered online.
But I have been using wood especially packaged for BBQ for decades =
without any ill affects (that I know of). In particular I use mesquite =
and hickory. 
Steve 

25) From: Michael Wascher
My preference has always been to use wood I cut myself.
On 9/8/06, Steve  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind.
  - Dr. Seuss

26) From: john
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
i really appreciate all the good information that this question has =
surfaced.  at the end of the day, though, the real question is, "is this =
specific piece of wood that i hold in my hand ok?"  that's where it gets =
tricky because who really knows, probably not the part-time employee.  =
so, to simplify my particular situation, i decided to use a beechwood =
spoon that i bought in the kitchen utensil dept. of walmart.  i think i =
can get past the 'made in china' part (i mean, not knowing where it's =
been in between there and here).  you would think it should be safe =
since it's being sold for the purpose of cooking with.  so why do i need =
to know anyway?
this idea isn't new, but with the electric skillet question earlier, i =
thought it was worth mentioning.  i've been using my cast iron skillet =
on the grill which is ok for drip, but i wasn't happy with my espresso =
roasts because they came out so uneven.  my single spoon can only stir =
so well.  some beans would get done sooner than others.  so i bought a =
sauce pan with a glass lid that had a single screw hole in the top for =
the handle.  i gave the pan to my wife but kept the lid.  removing the =
handle and drilling a hole in the bottom of my skillet, i was able to =
make a stirring device with two pieces of wooden spoons and a ss bolt.  =
one spoon is on top, then the bolt goes down through the lid, through =
the second spoon, and then out the bottom of the skillet through the =
hole by about an inch.  does that make sense?  the result is a roasting =
device that's easy to operate and produces an incredibly even roast with =
a definite beginning and end to first crack (it used to blend with =
second a bit).  currently i'm roasting a pound at a time (it's a 10 inch =
skillet).
anyway, thought i'd share.
john
not really wanting to get back to work...
here in pearland, tx

27) From: Dan Bollinger
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
John,  If you ever get around to making another spoon, try American =
sycamore (in the UK it is called maple).  It is the preferred wood for =
treen (kitchen woodenware) since it doesn't check (crack) despite =
repeated soakings.  Dan

28) From: Steve
John wrote:
i really appreciate all the good information that this question has
surfaced.  at the end of the day, though, the real question is, "is this
specific piece of wood that i hold in my hand ok?"  that's where it gets
tricky because who really knows,
----------------------------------------------
It's great that everyone tries to be helpful but when it could be a matter
of death or serious consequences be safe :-)
Steve

29) From: Mike Chester
If you are not sure, spend a dollar and buy a wooden spoon from a cooking 
store.  I am sure that they are safe to cook with.

30) From: Brett Mason
Try it, and then email the list.
Then we'll know!
Ummm - if we don't hear from you...
Brett
On 9/8/06, Steve  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Cheers,
Brett

31) From: Brett Mason
Pictures please - this sounds like a great addition for us skillet roasters
out there...
Thanks,
Brett
On 9/8/06, john  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Cheers,
Brett

32) From: john
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
"Pictures please - this sounds like a great addition for us skillet =
roasters out there..."
well, it's not much to look at, but i'll take a few pictures when i get =
home and post them.
john
now all self-conscious,
here in pearland, tx

33) From: Jon Rosen
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I have a few wooden kitchen utensils made from olive wood. These seem  
to have held up extremely well compared to a couple of spoons from  
unknown wood species. They have a nice grain, too.
Jon
On Sep 8, 2006, at 12:31 PM, Dan Bollinger wrote:
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I have a few wooden kitchen =
utensils made from olive wood. These seem to have held up extremely well =
compared to a couple of spoons from unknown wood species. They have a =
nice grain, too.
Jon O= n Sep 8, 2006, at 12:31 PM, Dan Bollinger wrote:
John,  = If you ever get around to making another spoon, try American sycamore = (in the UK it is called maple).  It is the preferred wood for treen = (kitchen woodenware) since it doesn't check (crack) despite repeated = soakings.  Dan 

34) From: Ed Needham
I did construction work for a year back in the early eighties and built 
balconies for an apartment complex using 2 1/2 " thick tongue in groove 
pressure treated decking.  This stuff came in from the treatment plant 
literally oozing and dripping with liquid that it had been boiled in under 
pressure.  I handled this stuff all day long, every day, cutting, breathing 
dust, wiping my face and eyes with hands saturated with the stuff.  My 
clothes were soaked from carrying this lumber, and I had absolutely no ill 
effects whatsoever.
I seriously doubt that if I stirred my coffee beans with a splinter from 
this lumber that I or anyone else would be in any danger at all from 
drinking my coffee.
Since red oak oozes it's own preservative resins, and we've all agreed that 
the piece of red oak in question would never be commercially pressure 
treated with preservatives, toxic or otherwise, why is this still enough of 
a concern to go out and buy a 'kitchen safe' wooden stirrer if you liked the 
one you had?  For all you know, the oils on the stirrer might have been from 
the beans!
We make such a big deal out of some things on this list.
(and yes, we took mercury from thermometers when I was a kid and balled it 
up and played with it in our hands, then probably ate lunch without washing)
*********************
Ed Needham®
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] in subject line to get through my SPAM filters)
*********************

35) From: jim gundlach
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On Sep 8, 2006, at 10:02 PM, Ed Needham wrote:
<Snip>
Back in the summers of 58 and 59 I built bridges out of pilings and  
timbers preserved with coal tar creosote  .  I worked with the stuff  
without a shirt and had to wipe myself clean with kerosene before I  
could take a bath.  Hell, on occasions I would find a nice big drop  
of coal tar creosote hanging off a timber and use it for chewing  
gum.  I cannot say that I know of anything bad happening to me from  
it but the .pdf file describing the just the health effects of this  
stuff is 1.3 megs.  That is enough  for me to keep the coal tar  
creosote and other wood preservatives out of contact with my coffee.
Pecan Jim 
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On Sep 8, 2006, at =
10:02 PM, Ed Needham wrote:

I did construction work for = a year back in the early eighties and built balconies for an apartment = complex using 2 1/2 " thick tongue in groove pressure treated = decking.  This stuff came = in from the treatment plant literally oozing and dripping with liquid = that it had been boiled in under pressure.  I handled this stuff all day = long, every day, cutting, breathing dust, wiping my face and eyes with = hands saturated with the stuff.  = My clothes were soaked from carrying this lumber, and I had = absolutely no ill effects whatsoever.

=
Back in the summers of 58 = and 59 I built bridges out of pilings and timbers preserved with coal = tar creosote  .  I worked with the stuff without a shirt and had to = wipe myself clean with kerosene before I could take a bath.  Hell, = on occasions I would find a nice big drop of coal tar creosote = hanging off a timber and use it for chewing gum.  I cannot say that I = know of anything bad happening to me from it but the .pdf file = describing the just the health effects of this stuff is 1.3 megs.  = That is enough  for me to keep the coal tar creosote and other wood = preservatives out of contact with my coffee.
Pecan = Jim = --Apple-Mail-11--917087557--

36) From: Ed Needham
I would not purposefully use something in contact with food or coffee that I 
know to be a hazard either, but it's easy to blow things out of proportion. 
There was mention in one post of a fear of someone dying from using this red 
oak spatula.
*********************
Ed Needham®
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] in subject line to get through my SPAM filters)
*********************


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