Author Topic: Ash - How To Make  (Read 5557 times)

Offline Bella

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Ash - How To Make
« on: March 22, 2009, 07:07:44 PM »
G’day all
I’m interested in finding out about ash used in coating cheese, and figured this site is the BEST place to start.

Where (i.e. what plant species) are suitable for making some ash?
What treatment does it need to be rendered suitable as food grade?
Can this be done at home?
Any other issues that are important??????

TIA


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Offline mako

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2009, 01:08:28 AM »
I found this document on making ash on the Yahoo Artisan Cheesemakers group. In the interest of having information available in more places, I thought I'd repost it here. I don't imagine the original poster would mind (but if they do, or if anyone's got any complaints, move it or nuke it).

As far as the specific questions in your post, I'm no expert (man, I say that a lot around here), but I'm pretty sure any hardwood that you'd use for smoking would also be good for making ash. I also know that grape vines can be used, but I'm not sure what part of them, or how dried and aged they need to be. I imagine you'd want to stay away from resinous woods (i.e. pine), but I don't know.

I've never made any ash, but reading the instructions got my wheels turning. Sounds like fun.

Quote
The custom manufacture of charcoal is a somewhat simple chore. I will relay the "Paint Can retort method", that should yield enough ash of any type (Grape vine, Maple, Oak, Pine, etc?) for cheesemaking needs and experimentation that you care, but you can scale it up to any size your actual use requires.

I am a NY State and Federal licensed manufacturer of display explosives (Aerial Display Fireworks), charcoal is a primary ingredient of aerial fireworks manufacture and it's manufacture is a very elementary process.
Cheese maker's should have no problem with this. You will all be "Charcoal Ash experts" after this post and your first batch is finished. Good Luck.

Materials Needed:

Paint Can ( new and empty)
Choice of wood, vine, or other pithy product
Nail or awl
Hammer
Fireplace tongs
Campfire

Optional Materials:

Marshmallows on sticks
Kids and Family Members

Method. The NEW One gallon paint can can be purchased at any paint store.  One could use an old used burned out paint can but we are talking an eventual food product here folks, so start with a NEW paint can.

With the lid removed from the can, a nail or awl and hammer is used to make a vent hole in the direct center of this lid, about 1/4 inch ( 6 mm ) in size. One vent hole only should be enough for our purpose. Care should be taken not to distort the form of the lid because it is vital this lid fits back on the can securely.

You now have a one gallon "Retort". You will fill your retort with whatever wood product you care. It is not absolutely necessary that the wood be dry prior to selection, but it doesn't hurt either. Grape vines seem to be the subject matter concerning this cheese forum, but it could be any wood type pieces of pithy fiber including maplewood, oakwood, soybean straw, blueberry vine, etc..

It is very important to attempt to completely fill the void inside the retort. Vine or other should really be "crammed" into this space and then some. Wood can be cut up into small chunks and slivers in an attempt to get more into the retort.

Important: Air (oxygen) within the retort is your
enemy. However having done all this, you do still need to be able to install the vented lid securely ( tight ).

With the lid returned to the retort tightly, you now require a rolling hot campfire. ( optional marshmallows, Kids etc.. ) With ample care, the retort is carefully placed onto the logs, coals, and flames in such a careful way that the vent hole can always be watched carefully.

Very soon, as the retort begins to heat up to red hot, the contents will begin to smoke. You are watching for this smoke spewing from the vent hole only. Very soon the venting smoke should become white. The retort will not blow up! The vent hole prevents an undue pressure build up within the unit.
However white smoke will stream out the vent as the retort gets hotter and its contents volatilize. This white smoke will come to an end at some point (one hour - plus or minus) after all the volatile fuel within the retort is spent. It is at this time that the retort is lifted out of the flames
with fireplace tongs or other, and set aside to cool overnight. Do Not open while it is hot!, the contents will be ruined.

By the next morning your retort contents should be cool. Carefully open the retort and you should have lovely custom charcoal. You may process this charcoal by grinding or crushing, or however you care to process it ( Very
Messy, but clean fun! ). I should think this product would be fully edible for cheese application and uses.

That’s about it. Be safe. Good Luck

Royal A. Purdy,
LakeCountryFireworks@compuserve.com

Offline Bella

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2009, 02:54:39 AM »
Thanks a million for this information. I will certainly give this a go!

Offline Oude Kaas

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2009, 03:02:11 PM »
Just posted some entries of some ash coated cheeses on link below:

Offline Tea

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2009, 03:38:56 PM »
Hi Bella I have been wanting to try an ash coated cheese for some time now.  Cheesemaking.com has some, but it works out to be fairly expensive by the time it arrives in Aussie.  I rang Cheeselinks and apparently you need a dangerous goods certificate to carry ash, so they don't bother with it.  However I have contacted a chemical company in Adelaide and they do sell it, but only in 7.5kg bags.  sigh

From my readings it seems that grape vine ash was originally used, so those who are close to the wine making areas should be able to get some of this.  The above ash making project certainly sounds interesting and worth a try.

CH also said that activated carbon could also be obtained from pet supply store, but it is the "food grade" part of the equation that bothers me.


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Offline Bella

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2009, 04:09:50 PM »
Hi Oude and Tea
Oude, it was your blog that sparked my interest, and I'll certainly keep following the progress of your ash-coated cheeses.

Thanks Tea for that info - have been meaning to ring Cheeselinks about it too, but my mind is elsewhere for now (one of my two housecows has had a paralysis for almost 2 weeks). Are those 7.5kg bags expensive?

I will try the 'recipe' posted by Makkonen, but am not sure where I can get a clean paint tin - will need to check that one out.

Offline John (CH)

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2009, 05:45:55 PM »
Bella, there was also some discussion here on Ash with my ideas for other sources.

I'll tear apart a used coconut based activated carbon drinking water filter and post pictures by this weekend.

Offline Bella

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2009, 01:05:29 AM »
Moochas grassy-ass John (both for the link and the piccies).

Have just spent a couple of hours in the paddock with my jersey - she has some sort of paralysis and can't get up. We hoist her with a tractor and then she is fine. As I type she is hungrily feeding in the relatively long lush grass following the rains.  When I get her sorted (hopefully!), I can get on to seeing about making some ash (if I can't acquire it elsewhere).

Thanks one and all for the input.

Offline Tea

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2009, 03:30:20 PM »
Morning Bella, and how is the cow this morning.  I originally thought you were saying that she had a paralysis tick.  Hope she is still standing this morning.

Back to the ash.  Yes it is fairly expensive and works out to around $55/kilo without postage. Which is about $13-14/8oz.  Cheesemaking sells it for $12.95/10oz, so it is comparable.

Offline Bella

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2009, 04:12:22 PM »
Hi there Tea
The vet wasn't sure what caused the paralysis, but she had a huge tick load just after calving, so there could have been some in that lot, though they were mostly cattle ticks.  I have just come in, and she got up for only the second time just now, so I'm hoping that she continues to improve.

I am already running late, but am going to a seminar today in Yandina and the place I am going to may know something about ash, so I will make enquiries and check back later today. There is a wide variety of different timbers around here (I have LOTS of hardwood, but that possibly isn't suitable).  Anyway, it's a project with some practical value, so I'll give it a go.


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Offline Bella

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2009, 04:31:25 PM »
Hi Tea
At the seminar yesterday (at Nutri-Tech Solutions - a biological fertiliser/human health products manufacturer), I asked about food-grade ash, but they had no product or ideas on where to get it. I then asked one of the local permaculture people who conducts cheese-making courses, but she hasn't used it, nor knew where to get it.

So it looks like the experimental route is the next option.

Offline MrsKK

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2009, 09:26:10 AM »
Bella,
I have no input about the ash coating, but have just read about your cow not being too healthy.  I hope she is on the mend for you.  I'd be terrified if my cow went down!

Offline Bella

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2009, 04:49:12 PM »
Hi Karen
Thanks for asking, and yes it has been pretty terrifying. More so because I am here on my own and being around cattle is a new experience for this city girl!

It appears that the problem was a combination of ticks, mild milk fever, and a possible injury from a fall in slippery conditions. But, I am happy to say that yesterday was the watershed day - she was able to get up herself (without tractor assistance!!!!!!!) whenever she wanted. It feels kinda funny to be so exhilarated by a cow standing up. I had to wean the calf much earlier than I should have (at 2 months) and he is naturally not happy, but she will be the better for it.

On the ash coating, I have sourced a shop where I can get clean paint tins, so will proceed with the experiment when I can and will report back.

Offline MrsKK

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2009, 07:48:41 AM »
I'm so happy for you, Bella!  I'm not new to cattle, but I am new to milk cow(s).  I only have one and would be devastated if anything happened to her.  I cringed every time she galloped on the ice this winter.  I know a slip and a fall can be life-threatening at times.

Good job on finding the paint tins.  Once I hear about your results, I may have to venture into ash coating for cheeses, as well.  I'm learning so many interesting possibilities through this forum!

Offline Tea

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Re: Ash - How To Make
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2009, 03:56:11 PM »
Bella have you tried the ash making yet?  I read somewhere that a charcoal burner could also be used.

I know there has been a question as to how expensive ash is, but I just bought a packet of geo and it cost me $20.00 for about 1/2 a gram.  I thought the packet was empty when it arrived, so I have to say that the ash is looking more affordable every day.

By the way, how is the cow?