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Whole Leaf Tobacco

Pressureless perique?

oldbear

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#1
Has anyone tried just packing a jar of slightly damp leaves, lightly screwing the lid and letting it ferment without pressure?

Seems that perhaps the pressure might be just a way to get the moisture level high enough for bacterial action and to seal off the oxygen supply.

I may try...

Oldbear
 

deluxestogie

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#5
One of the functions of pressure in making Perique is to physically disrupt the cell walls of the leaf lamina, allowing the cellular contents to leak out of the laminar cells.

Bob
 

istanbulin

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#6
I made the previous batch of Perique (Oriental) under really low pressure, there were just some stuff on it. Also a new Perique batch (1 kg - 2.2 lb) started few weeks ago, the weight above the Perique is ~13 kg (~29 lb). Diameter of the container is a little wide so it makes ~1.2 Psi. I think you don't need too much pressure to make homemade Perique so if you don't have a press or available space just put some heavy stuff on it, it will be ok. No need to take the mold risk.
 

Grumpa

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#7
One of the functions of pressure in making Perique is to physically disrupt the cell walls of the leaf lamina, allowing the cellular contents to leak out of the laminar cells.

Bob
So it has been said many times and in many places but is it really true? The pressure curing process provides both an anaerobic and a pressurized environment but which is most important? Is the 30 psi you are getting in your method enough to disrupt the cell walls? Some very quick research suggests that it isn't and that it requires substantially more pressure to truly do this (on the order of hundreds of psi). I have noted to myself during the airing step of the Perique testing that I am doing that the leaves do not appear to be damaged in any way. They still have substantial strength and structure which I would not expect to see if the cell walls are being disrupted. Maybe it is time thing though and I am not far enough into it yet to see the effects.

I do agree that simply putting leaves in a jar and sealing it up will result in nothing but mold. But what about pulling a vacuum on the jar? This would remove any mold possibility though it may inhibit any anaerobic fermentation taking place but it should not interfere with enzymatic action. I will do this next week when I get back to Wisconsin.
 

rainmax

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#9
What about vacuum bagging? Anybody try that? If not, I can set it up.
But what about pulling a vacuum on the jar? This would remove any mold possibility though it may inhibit any anaerobic fermentation taking place but it should not interfere with enzymatic action. I will do this next week when I get back to Wisconsin.
I'm using vacuum bagging for most of my tobacco. Also perique and I have great result.
 

Grumpa

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#10
I ran the numbers on the pressure used for traditional Perique production and it worked out to about 45 psi.
I believe you Don but the point is what exactly is the pressure doing? Is it the pressure itself (by cell wall disruption) that is making the Perique or is it the anaerobic environment provided by the process or is it some combination of the two? Making an anaerobic environment under low or no pressure is easy and according to Istanbulin and rainmax results in a Perique like tobacco. So it would seem that pressure itself is not as big a factor from those two reports. Of course, to really test this would require an aerobic, pressurized environment which would be difficult to achieve in practice and probably would result in nothing but mold.

Over the next week or so, I am going to set up a test series using the same tobaccos I am presently Periqueing using vacuum bags and the evacuated glass jars and see what happens.

I love testing things.
 

deluxestogie

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#11
FmGrowit's estimate of ~45 psi is how the math works out when using Killebrew's description of the St. James Parish Perique presses of his day--mid 19th century. My own Perique press has no way to measure the pressure. It's just very snug.

Using a lever arm cheese press, which I have calibrated, I have seen a dark cellular exudate produced on the surface of color-cured leaf that has been subjected to as little as 1.5 psi, which is consistent with istanbulin's experience. If you've ever bruised a leaf of cabbage or lettuce, then you are familiar with the glossy appearance. There is no question in my mind that pressure disrupts the laminar cells. It is also clear that such a cellular disruption does not decrease the tensile strength of the leaf.

A separate issue is the exposure of undamaged leaf to a hypotonic solution. Immersing leaf in plain water presents an osmotic gradient that tries to equalize the concentration of intracellular constituents with the extracellular environment. However, the cell membrane prevents all but the tiniest of molecules from passing in either direction. The result is that water is drawn toward the interior of the cells. BUT, the intact cell wall (a feature of plant cells, but not of animal cells) serves to minimize swelling of the cells. Some form of damage to the cell walls--either by pressure or by "decay"--is needed to allow the oxidative enzymes to reach the exterior of the leaf.

Bob
 

Grumpa

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#12
FmGrowit's estimate of ~45 psi is how the math works out when using Killebrew's description of the St. James Parish Perique presses of his day--mid 19th century. My own Perique press has no way to measure the pressure. It's just very snug.

Using a lever arm cheese press, which I have calibrated, I have seen a dark cellular exudate produced on the surface of color-cured leaf that has been subjected to as little as 1.5 psi, which is consistent with istanbulin's experience. If you've ever bruised a leaf of cabbage or lettuce, then you are familiar with the glossy appearance. There is no question in my mind that pressure disrupts the laminar cells. It is also clear that such a cellular disruption does not decrease the tensile strength of the leaf.

A separate issue is the exposure of undamaged leaf to a hypotonic solution. Immersing leaf in plain water presents an osmotic gradient that tries to equalize the concentration of intracellular constituents with the extracellular environment. However, the cell membrane prevents all but the tiniest of molecules from passing in either direction. The result is that water is drawn toward the interior of the cells. BUT, the intact cell wall (a feature of plant cells, but not of animal cells) serves to minimize swelling of the cells. Some form of damage to the cell walls--either by pressure or by "decay"--is needed to allow the oxidative enzymes to reach the exterior of the leaf.
I am not disputing the pressures involved in conventional Perique making but merely trying to separate out the effects of pressure and anaerobic environment. 45-50 psi is consistent with what I have seen and calculated from the literature. Bob, the clamp you are using is rated at 400 lbs so if you use that number, the pressure you are achieving is about 29 psi. Of course what you are actually getting is unknown but at least this gives you a ballpark number to start with.

I find it it difficult to believe that 1.5 psi is sufficient to rupture cell walls. (Biology is not at all my strong suit so take these comments with that big grain of salt). This equates to a water column of a little over three feet and as we all know, plants grow considerably taller than that but surface tension and other mechanical effects have a considerable effect so column height probably means nothing. Also, as I said, I quick review of literature seems to indicate much higher pressures are needed. Have you tried your calibrated press on cabbage or lettuce leaves to see what happens?

I just did a quick and dirty test on a Maryland leaf. I took my 2 x 4 inch press block and literally stood on it with the high case leaf sandwiched in plastic between the block and the base. After 5 minutes of balancing there, the leaf was not changed at all. Since I am about 160 lbs, this gives about 20 psi. If I did not mark the leaf surface where the block was, I would not know where the pressing was. On another section of the same leaf, I used the same arrangement but I used a medium duty F clamp rated at 1000 lbs and tightened it as much as I could to the point where I was noticeably bending the bar. After 5 minutes at a calculated 125 psi, there was some darkening on about 20% of the the pressed surface but as I examined it, the darkness all but disappeared. After about 1 hour, the darkened area (with the leaf maintained in high case) is gone and, outside of a bit of flattening of the leaf, the pressed area looks like the rest of the leaf. Was this cellular disruption? Beats me. Could have been a moisture effect too. i also took a section of the leaf and froze it for 1 hour. Warmed up between my hands then placed back into the cut out area, it looks identical to the virgin leaf but I suspect that will change with time.

What does the above mean? Nothing yet. As I said, a quick and dirty test. But it is instructive to me. It leads me to believe that the pressure in the Perique process is not a big deal but this remains to be seen. Perhaps some cell disruption is necessary, perhaps not. I think I will add on another test to my above series where I will place the leaf in the jars in high case, then go through 2 or 3 freeze/thaw cycles to provide some disruption, then evacuate the jar and compare the results to an unfrozen sample. Will any of this work? Who knows. That is what testing is for.
 

Planter

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#17
Has anyone tried just packing a jar of slightly damp leaves, lightly screwing the lid and letting it ferment without pressure?

Oldbear
Funny you mention that, because I just started a mason jar with leaves pressed in by hand. Another tiny jar just fitting between the lid and the leaves applies a certain pressure so the leaves won´t swim up.


I have to mention that the leaves used here are mostly green, uncured, just wilted. I´m still harvesting, but have run out of hanging space, even for stalk curing. So I don´t really know what to expect, but there´s not much to lose.
Disadvantage: Unless one squeezes the leaves properly before, some water has to be added, as the juice released this way is not sufficient to cover the lot. With soaked, cured leaf this may not be an issue. Anyway, after one night the liquid looks brownish like in my previous Perique experiment.


If it´s going right somehow after a few days, I will fill a big jar this way, just covered with a stone, Sauerkraut-style.


Interesting enough, some old books mention similar fermentation treatments for tobacco, with hydrochloric acid added to water working better than sugar or fruit juice.

Question: In Sauerkraut processing temperatures should be lower after the first week (or so I heard), is that advised for Perique?
 

Planter

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#18
I just prepared another jar with half-cured Bursa leaves (stems still green - removed those).
After bringing the leaves into high case I rolled them up (in hope this will keep smaller pieces from floating), then squeezed that roll into a mason jar, and like above, placed another, small jar on top. Then pressed that small jar down, this squeezed most of the water out of the leaves again (so they are completely covered with liquid). Then put the lid on top, this holds the smaller jar inside down and the liquid level constant.


I will see how this goes. I think it is as air-sealed as Sauerkraut is supposed to be. And the leaves are quite compact at the bottom.
 
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