There are several theories for curing a barrel or cask. The most commonly known are placing low quality liquor, lime with lime, adding salt water or putting the barrel in a container with water etc.
Today we will be talking about which curing method we consider is the most effective. This curing method is by using steam, this method is normally used by large companies that use barrel for aging rum or whiskey. The reason this process is preferred, is because the steam has higher possibility of penetrating the wood and at the same time cleaning the barrel.
In this blog we will be informing you on how to cure you barrel at home with very common utensils.
What do you need?
- Purified water (approximately 10 % of the total capacity of your oak barrel)
- A teapot or a pot.
- A plastic or ceramic jug (cannot be glass)
- A funnel. The tip entrance must be smaller than the barrel hole.
Make sure that in the area where you will be working and applying the steps, there is nothing that will cause unnecessary movement. If you have children make sure to keep them at a safe distance to avoid an accident with hot water
Place purified water in a pot or a kettle, then heat up the water until it reaches the boiling point. Once the water reaches the boiling point the next step will be to carefully fill the barrel with the hot water you can use a funnel to avoid dropping water and safely pour it in. Make sure that before you start filling the barrel with hot water that you have placed the barrel somewhere where it will not move.
With one hand you will be holding the container that currently has the hot water and with the other hand holding the funnel. Make sure to leave a small space between the funnel and the barrel to help the water flow. In the case of quantities above 2 liters it is recommended have another person assisting you in the process.
Immediately after pouring the water in the barrel you must place the bung that way the steam inside the barrel generates pressure and will be able to help you see if there are any possible leaks. You can leave the water inside the barrel for 30 minutes then throw it away, you would need to repeat the process for at least 3 times and make sure that not a lot of time passes by each repetition. It is recommended to do this complete process on the same day.
Finally, you should place water inside your barrel with an estimated 50% of the total capacity of the barrel, that way it is easy to handle. You will need to turn the barrel every couple of hours to evenly hydrate it. If the leaks persist you can lengthen the time to allow them to seal, but it should not exceed a week without changing the water since it could generate fungus and / or bacteria inside. You can find more details about this topic in our blog 10 mistakes when using my wooden barrel. After this process is finished you can then remove the water and add your favorite liquor.
If in the last step you still had leaks don’t worry, it is normal but with time the barrel will start to absorb the liquid and expand to avoid any further leaking.
You need to remember that wood is a material that needs to be hydrated, therefore, in the first few times you fill the barrel you will lose a percentage of the liquid and or liquor that is poured in, this will decrease with constant use. There are several factor that play a role in the percentage loss. Some of the factors can be the climate where you currently the barrel as well as the type of wood and its origin. Curing helps you reduce any possible leaks it might have, it is also very important to mention that the water you placed inside should not stay more than three days because it can cause fungi and give you off flavors that will affect the taste and quality of your beverage.
We hope this information can help you out if you have any questions or doubts don’t hesitate to send us your questions.
Click here to view the video where we go step by step through this procedure. Just spanish for now.
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