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Whole Leaf Tobacco

Deluxestogie's Endoskeletal Wood Tobacco Kiln / Flue-cure chamber

OldDinosaurWesH

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Bob:

I've been looking at your Endoskeletal Kiln thread for some design ideas re: insulating my existing proofer / tobacco kiln. Said proofer does a good job for me but uses a lot of electricity. The main reason my proofer is so expensive to run is that it is poorly insulated. I'm leaning toward putting my proofer cabinet inside a box slightly larger than the proofer. That box would resemble your kiln design, without all the wiring. One of the benefits I get out of using the proofer cabinet, is the excellent air circulation it provides. And of course, my proofer is already fully functional and temperature programmable. I just need it to use less electricity.

I think that my machine is capable of reaching the requisite 170 degrees for flue curing, but I am unsure what would be the benefit of flue curing would be. Are there certain varieties of tobacco that are better for flue curing than others? Historically, I have great difficulty getting my cigar (and other very green types) to color down without molding. Would my cigar types (and other very green types) be good candidates for flue curing? The goal of course, is to reduce dead loss to close to zero.

The box idea is a definite. I've already been to the lumberyard and priced the insulation. (Insulation is expensive! but a one-time expense.) The flue curing is just an idea at this time. I would appreciate any suggestions or ideas you might be able to contribute.

Wes H.
 
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Wes,

Specifically, bright tobacco, aka Virginia tobacco, aka flue cured tobacco varieties are completely different if flue cured vs air cured. They have a very different flavor, are more sweet, more acidic, more hygroscopic, and a completely different color.

A large kiln can operate as a vessel for flue curing. The tobacco needs to be able to hang, and have some space between the leaves, just like with regular air curing.
 

deluxestogie

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Most cigar varieties, including burley and all cigar types, are not suitable for flue-curing. I've tried them, and they come out visually attractive, but consistently taste awful.

Virginia tobaccos and other flue-cure varieties, as well as some Orientals not only do very well when flue-cured, but acquire unique and desirable characteristics from the flue-cure.

Bob
 

OldDinosaurWesH

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Bob and ChinaVoodoo:

Thanks for the info. Sounds like I should stick with the kilning. I've got some time re: kilning as I have quite a bit of year-old (and more than year old) tobacco still hanging. My 240 plant grow last year produced a lot of leaf. I've been busy lately consolidating last year's crop, so I can make room to hang this year's crop. Whole stalk hanging takes up a lot of room.

Wes H.
 

deluxestogie

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Whole stalk hanging takes up a lot of room.
If you hang strung leaf for color-curing in only a single tier, as I do in my 7' high shed (so I can move beneath the leaf to shuffle the strings around, and retrieve those strings that have colored), the hanging space is measured in square feet--only two dimensions. Whole stalks require fewer square feet for the same number of leaves, compared to strung leaf.

If you hang strings in multiple tiers--three dimensions, then the equation is different.

Bob
 

OldDinosaurWesH

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While what you have to say is very much valid, more than 100 stalks still take up a whole lot of space! I still have at least 50 left overs from last years stalk hung crop. I already stack my strung leaf vertically. I have about 15 of those strings left over.

Tobacco Seedlings 9-17-17 180 -1.jpg Tobacco Seedlings 9-17-17 181 -1.jpg

So...Yeah...I need to do some consolidating in order to store everything.

Wes H.
 

deluxestogie

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If I bring last year's stalks into case (3 consecutive rainy days works), it takes me about 30 seconds to strip each stalk. I just toss the leaves into a large basket, and stuff them all into a large bag per variety. My most compelling motivation to finally get around to stripping the old stalks is when it comes time to need space for a new crop. I'm lazy that way. If I strip the leaf, then tie it into hands (~2 stalks per hand), and finally tag and hang the tied hands somewhere, the process takes me about three times as long. It's charming to see those ties hands, but it's just a whole lot more work. If I want the leaf separated into mud-lugs, lugs, leaf and tips, well..it takes forever, and for no real benefit to me.]

When I hang my stalks, each takes up a lot of room. A week later, I scoot them closer together. After they are fully wilted, I move them even closer together.

All of this is just trial-and-error logistics to suit each of our own curing spaces and unique climatic conditions.

Bob
 

OldDinosaurWesH

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That's what I've been doing with the old crop stuff. Stripping, casing, and either shredding or storing. I have to put my leaf into bags and bring them back into case before I do anything to them, or I'll have a pile of crumbles. My atmosphere is just too dry.

During the growing season I do in order: prime, string & color cure. I prime, string, and color cure three times during the season 'till all I have left is the upper and top leaves to hang whole stalk. This way, all my strings are of a particular position on the plant and are labeled accordingly. I have one more priming left to do this season, and then it will be time to whole stalk everything except bagged plants. Even the bagged plants will have had most of there leaves removed.

Hence the "consolidating" as I am anticipating more than 100 tops to hang by the end of September / first of October.

All of my harvesting efforts are geared toward space available and (really important in this climate) and humidity available.

Wes H.

Three consecutive rainy days around here would be a very rare event indeed!
 

OldDinosaurWesH

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Already got one. Same brand. It's okay for a smaller space like the initial curing room. Wholly inadequate for the basement.

It's no big deal. I pick the leaves off of the stem and toss them in a garbage bag or a plastic storage bin and spritz them with a mister. 12 hours later the leaves are soft and supple and workable. Actually, I've gotten pretty good at gauging the amount of moisture to add while not overdoing it...I've had lots of practice.

Wes H.
 

deluxestogie

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A Tweak to my Kiln Interior

I am stuffing large quantities of leaf into bags, and stacking / hanging them in the kiln. I have labored to avoid having them touch the sides or floor, since that will create a cool spot, and will mold.

My plan was to purchase a number of inexpensive wire baking racks that are used to allow a cake or loaf of bread to cool on the counter. I went to Dollar General.

I forgot that it's almost Christmas. Many of their usual kitchen items have been displaced by an entire aisle of green and red and sparkly Christmas decorations. Another entire aisle is filled with orange and black and cobwebby Halloween decorations. I gave up.

On my way out the door, I noticed a table of last-chance clearance items beside the parking lot. "Buy one, get two free." Well, one of the items was two-packs of disposable, foil grilling pans, perforated with generous holes. Cost was $1.20 per two-pack. So I acquired 6 of these pans for a total of $1.20.



The space between the corner uprights of the frame for each side wall is an exact match for a pan to fit snugly in between. I just leaned pans against the wider back wall (upper compartment and lower).



Since one of the suspended bags made contact with the interior of the door when closed, I used a piece of Tyvek tape to hold it in place. Air within the kiln will easily circulate through the holes in the pans, keeping the surface at kiln temp when a bag of leaf makes contact.

Bob
 

OldDinosaurWesH

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Bob:

I'm confused...I thought the idea behind kilning was a combination of heat and air circulation. As I understand it, the idea is to expose the leaf to a combination of heat, moisture, and fresh oxygen to stimulate the decomposition of the nitrates in the leaf. If the tobacco is in bags where's the air circulation?

Wes H.
 

deluxestogie

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Heat and humidity are required. There's plenty, plenty of oxygen. You can kiln hanging leaf, leaf in jars or leaf in bags. I've started using large bags for two reasons. The final result is better than with hanging leaf (I think because of more thermal and moisture stability). In jam packed bags, the kiln holds easily twice as much, maybe three times as much, as my previous, hanging of leaf strings and tied hands.

The purpose of the internal fan is to maintain consistent temperature and humidity throughout the kiln space.

Bob

EDIT: for flue-curing, you've got to have air flow between the leaves.
 

deluxestogie

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I've never purchased them, but received tobacco samples in them over a span of years. Most are in the range of 30" deep by 24" wide. Some of the sturdier ones are poly-nylon. The other bags are very heavy polyethylene, like 4 mil. The only ones I've seen for sale (US Plastics and ULine) are sold by the case. You'd have to search for smaller quantities.

Bob
 

Valahnuk

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I have built a kiln that looks more or less just like yours and I'm about to kiln my first batch of my home grown tobacco.

I just have a question if it is ok if the tobacco touches the sides of the kiln? Or could it cause condensation and start to mold?
 

deluxestogie

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Slight contact in a kiln that is well insulated and has an adequate circulation fan is not much of a problem. A densely packed kiln, with leaf pressing firmly against the wall will indeed allow condensation and mold.

Bob
 

Valahnuk

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Slight contact in a kiln that is well insulated and has an adequate circulation fan is not much of a problem. A densely packed kiln, with leaf pressing firmly against the wall will indeed allow condensation and mold.

Bob
Ok.
The kiln is well insulated with 3 inch of styrofoam, but I don't have a fan.
 
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