The aesthetics of a wooden oak barrel lend the imagination vivid imagery of alcohol – and let’s be honest, with something as classy as a wooden barrel, we usually think of bourbon. Oak barrels are diverse, though – just because they work perfectly for bourbon doesn’t mean that you have to constrain yourself to aging just alcohol.
Many other foods get better with age, even though none are nearly as publicized as aged liquor is. But if you enjoy one of the foods that can be aged, well, you’re in luck – the pallet definition that can be achieved with a few weeks to years of aging is very noticeable. For example, if you’re a hot sauce aficionado, your taste buds will be screaming in ecstasy at the sight of some aged hot sauce.
Here are 4 food items that you can age in your charred oak barrels. If you don’t have a barrel yet, we have wooden barrels for sale – you can pick one up by clicking here.
After that description of hot sauce, let’s start there.
Item #1 – Barrel Aged Hot Sauce
Usually, when you’re putting hot sauce on something, you’re not going for a light flavor – you’re going for the searing, eye-watering, oh-so-good, almost painful rush of heat to your senses. If this sounds accurate, aging hot sauce is right up your alley – when it ages, it develops an entire new layer of hotness, and the flavor of it is accentuated, too.
Now, some people play around with mixing alcohol and hot sauce. That’s one path to take, but aging your hot sauce for the sole purpose of using it on your food is the path we’re going to go down. All you have to do is load your wooden barrel with the sauce, seal it in the same way you would if you were aging alcohol, and wait two to four weeks.
Once you’re done, test some out by comparing it to the normal version of whatever you’re aging – Sriracha, Frank’s, whatever. You’ll notice a more complex flavor with a little bit more kick.
Very important: make sure that you thoroughly clean and cure your barrel before and after aging hot sauce. Because of the powerful flavor, even a little bit left over can ruin your next batch/product. You can pick up a cleaning kit here.
As you’re probably not using gallons upon gallons of hot sauce per month, pick up a 1L barrel from us for aging it.
Item #2 – Tea
If you’re a caffeine person, then you’re either a coffee person or a tea person. You might be both, but most have a preference of one over the other.
If that preference is tea and you want to step your tea game up, try aging the actual leaves themselves. When left out in the open, tea leaves will dry up, but when contained in an airtight container like a wooden oak barrel, their flavor gets infinitely more diverse.
You can pick up loose tea leaves at specialty stores – regular supermarkets usually won’t sell them.
The process is the same as alcohol and hot sauce – just cure the barrel, open it up, load the leaves in, and seal it. The only “catch” with tea is that you have to age it for months, or even years to see results – if you want to try it out but don’t want to put your other wooden oak barrels out of commission, look at our oak barrels for sale here.
Item #3 – Aged Balsamic Vinegar
You know those things that you can use on everything, like salt and olive oil? Balsamic vinegar is one of those things.
Italians are known for waiting – just look at how long wine is aged for. Aged balsamic vinegar has a much more defined taste than regular, supermarket balsamic vinegar does, but there’s a catch – it costs an arm and a leg. A single bottle that’s been aged for years can run you over $30, so if you want to consistently have this taste but not have it eat away at your bank account, you have to do it yourself.
Aging balsamic vinegar is a long process – we recommend leaving it for a year or more. Get a separate barrel for it – we have plenty of oak barrels for sale here. Who knows, if the end result is good enough, you might even be able to start selling your own and cash in on everyone who’s too lazy to age it.
Item #4 – Barrel Aged Maple Syrup
Breakfast lovers rejoice – maple syrup is last on the list, but not least. Far from it, actually. Aged maple syrup is a sought after condiment because pancake lovers know that the pancakes are only good as the syrup on top of them.
When you’re aging maple syrup, it’s worth doing some digging online for those who sell natural syrups. Usually, they’re small, local businesses. Aging a store bought brand won’t be terrible, but you’ll get better results with something a little bit more natural – simple as that.
The downside? Maple syrup is especially sticky. After you age it, prepare yourself physically and mentally for the barrel cleaning of a lifetime.
We’ve given you some ideas on what to use your barrels for if you’re already seeing results with aged alcohol. You can also explore online into the more obscure aged items, like vanilla. We kept this list general so that it’d appeal to a wide range of wooden barrel users.
As always, make sure that you’re taking proper care of your barrels while trying to age these food items – the last thing you want to do is clean up a pool of maple syrup off of your floor. Check in frequently to see how the aging process is coming along, and don’t be afraid to bottle it up if it tastes good.
Good luck, and if you need aged oak barrels for these specific food items, click here to check out our wooden barrels for sale.
Be sure to also check out our recipe section if you’re looking for some more ideas.