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Whole Leaf Tobacco

Making Press-Cake

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#1
Part 1.
Press cake differs from flake in that it is shredded tobacco which has been pressed, where the latter is pressed plug which has been sliced. Why make press cake? Two reasons: it's easier to blend with, and it's easier to evenly apply pressure to.

Here is my mold.
IMG_20170423_034241413.jpg
I cut a piece of parchment paper to fit, and put it in the bottom.
IMG_20170423_034259266.jpg

I'm using small Harrow Velvet leaves from 2015 crop. This was the tobacco grown in a hole cut out of the lawn that I mentioned in another thread. First step is to spritz it with water and let it sit for an hour or two. This makes it stick better and prevents crumbling. I did not remove mid ribs because there's nothing wrong with mid rib in my opinion. Tossing them would be a waste. You'll see that how I do it, they are always cut perpendicular, so you never end up with big chunks of it. The leaves are all lined up so the ribs are all parallel. I put my press block on it to use as a guide to cut the leaves to fit lengthwise in the mold.
IMG_20170423_034440194.jpg
I stack the cut ends on top of the main part of the leaves
IMG_20170423_034539683.jpg
IMG_20170423_034609101.jpg
I load it all into the mold, and put another piece of parchment paper on top.
IMG_20170423_034640560.jpg
IMG_20170423_034648986.jpg
IMG_20170423_034653509.jpg

Then I press it and let it sit for an hour
IMG_20170423_034804028.jpg
 
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#2
Part 2.

Here's the plug. The thinner, the easier to cut.
IMG_20170423_041959526.jpg

Cut the slices, perpendicular to the mid ribs. The sooner you do this, the better because the plug will expand gradually, making it more difficult to get thin slices.
IMG_20170423_042318801.jpg

Cut them in half.
IMG_20170423_042635175.jpg

Prepare and fill the mold. I've used smaller blocks so I can exert much higher psi at this stage.
IMG_20170423_042741008.jpg
IMG_20170423_042853035_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg
IMG_20170423_042856722.jpg

And press for however long you want. You'll see the result shortly.
IMG_20170423_043044214.jpg
 
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#3
Part 3.

Here's the result. 75g of fully compressed tobacco, ready to be blended or smoked as is.
IMG_20170423_045028007.jpg
The last step is to leave the jar open to dry, depending on how wet it was to begin with.
IMG_20170423_045108239.jpg

I want to add to part 1, that you should cut the tobacco to fit the mold because if you fold it lengthwise, or merely stuff it in, you will get a lot of irregular and wide ribbon, and big chunks of ribs. Folds on the short axis are ok though.
 

Planter

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#4
That looks good!

How does that Harrow Velvet smoke?

I used to press like that (but only the first part, till I got flakes), now more often than not I'm rather making roll cakes (sliced into "coins" it behaves like a flake but can also be easily blended by just crumbling different ones into the bowl.)
 
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#5
That looks good!

How does that Harrow Velvet smoke?

I used to press like that (but only the first part, till I got flakes), now more often than not I'm rather making roll cakes (sliced into "coins" it behaves like a flake but can also be easily blended by just crumbling different ones into the bowl.)
It's mediocre tobacco. I was (and still am) learning. It was grown in less than ideal soil. I did a Costello 94%, perique 5%, deerstongue 1% press cake recently that is incredible though. I find this method really works some magic though in slowing burn, improving flavor, and reducing bite on anything I do. Kumanovo was hard on the tongue before, the press cake is actually rather smooth.
 
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#7
As always, great job in your engineering endeavors. Is that black walnut I see as your press?
Thank you. We don't have such exotic woods here in the West. Best I could find is oak for the box. The spruce frame lasted a couple years and busted last week. I've got multiple wrappings of 600lb/in fiberglass tape holding it together now.
 

burge

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#14
When I shred a bunch of tobacco I compress it as much as I can in the can I find it tastes better especially if just left there. I get a sort of cake where all the tobacco sticks together and I love having to break it apart.
 

mwaller

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#15
I'd like to try making some flake or press-cake. Would it work to put the leaves through a 1mm shredder, then press the resulting mixture?
Do I need to moisten the shredded tobacco before pressing? How long is it typically pressed?
Thanks!
 

burge

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#16
It's up to you I will moisten mine a little more than normal. . Length of time is up to you as it dries out a bit it hardens. When pressed the juices will meld together. It in my opinion has to be shredded first but it doesn't have to be. Depends on how you are going to cut it. Ie a brick is made for a tuck cutter.
 
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#17
I'd like to try making some flake or press-cake. Would it work to put the leaves through a 1mm shredder, then press the resulting mixture?
Do I need to moisten the shredded tobacco before pressing? How long is it typically pressed?
Thanks!
If it's too moist, you might find it difficult to adequately dry after pressing. If it's too dry, it won't stick, and might create lots of dust.

Here's another way I make press cake:
IMG_20171201_180152853~2.jpg
 

Smokin Harley

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#19
I like the bottle jack idea but since I tend to overthink a result from a catastrophe such as the bottle jack seal leaking hydraulic fluid into the box/tobacco below could be a distant but total possibility. My only suggestion to a very good /simple mechanics of press...arrange the box on top of the jack rather than under it.
 
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#20
I like the bottle jack idea but since I tend to overthink a result from a catastrophe such as the bottle jack seal leaking hydraulic fluid into the box/tobacco below could be a distant but total possibility. My only suggestion to a very good /simple mechanics of press...arrange the box on top of the jack rather than under it.
There's also various types of jacks that have hand cranks instead of hydraulics.
 
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