Monday, October 15, 2012

Curing Bamboo In The Oven

The conversation went like this:

Why is there a block of wood in the oven?
It's not wood.
What is it?
It's bamboo.
Ok, so why is there a block of bamboo in the oven?
I'm curing it.
Was it sick?
No, but it was green.
Yes, fresh cut, full of water.
Is that a problem?
Yes, if you work with green bamboo it will crack.
Oh, that is a problem.
So how long are you going to tie up the oven?
Until noon, I'm going to make some Quesadillas and I'll need the oven then.
You are going to take that block out aren't you?
Oh yes.
How does it smell?
Like England, Green and Pleasant.
OK, you've been watching BBC America again haven't you?
Of course...

And on.

What happened was that last week on Tuesday our neighborhood had Bulk Trash.  It's one day a month when the most magical of all trash days happens.  Our neighbors toss out all the big stuff that won't fit in the big blue bins.  Later when everyone is away, the Magic of the Trash Claw happens and it all disappears.


A Big open truck with a giant claw on an articulated arm comes and grabs the giant piles and puts then in the hopper.  Then, it moves on down the road to the next pile and so on.  Really quite fascinating to watch and some of those folks on the truck are quite amazing.

Here in Subtropical South Florida, we have to keep after our yards.  If you blink, a day after a rain storm, you actually see growth.  Since it is tropical, we can grow all sorts of things that "regular" places can't like Orange Trees, Mangoes, Lemons, and Bamboo.   Bamboo can be quite pretty, as Chinese and Japanese art would evidence, and the dancing of the leaves on the breezes can be rather poetic.

However it is quite prolific and will easily take over your yard if you don't get out a machete and hack it down.

The neighbor had a pile that was 4 feet tall and 8 feet square full of bamboo cuttings.   Some of the bamboo was as thick as my wrist.   Being someone who is always looking at things and applying them to some new and intriguing uses, we grabbed two 6 foot long sections of some of that "construction grade" bamboo for later use.  

But you just can't work with it until it cures because it will warp, crack, and be subject to insect damage. 

So the recipe as best I could figure was simple.

Cut your bamboo down to "workable lengths" that will fit in your oven.
Heat oven to just above boiling, 105C or 220F.
Place the bamboo on the rack so that air can get to all of the bamboo.
Every hour, rotate the bamboo to avoid spotting or warping.
After 4 hours (or more) you can remove the bamboo.

There, aren't you happy you learned this?  After all, what else are you going to do with scrap bamboo from the neighbor's yard, build something?

Yes, until I run out of the stuff.  Then I will wait for the next Bulk Trash Day and ...

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