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Whole Leaf Tobacco

Really Easy Perique Press

deluxestogie

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#1
This thread can serve for discussing various press arrangements, specs, the Perique process itself, and results any members obtain (from whatever Perique method they try).

Although Perique is a named variety of tobacco (which makes a great, mild cigar filler, even without kilning), in this thread I'm speaking exclusively of the Perique pressure-curing method, rather than the variety. It can be used with most varieties of tobacco. The fermentation is so complete that there is not much of a varietal nuance left.

What is Perique

Perique tobacco, which is a very dark brown when finished, has been variously described as "smelling like manure" to smelling "like prunes" or like wine made from grapes affected by botrytis (which shrivels and concentrates the grape). Perique tobacco has a high (alkaline) pH. Although its nicotine level may be no greater than other tobacco, the high pH dramatically increases nicotine absorption through the mucous membranes of the mouth and nasopharynx. So smoking straight Perique is not a common practice.

How is Perique Used?

One excellent use of Perique in tobacco blending is using it to neutralize the pH of more acidic tobacco, such as flue-cured tobacco (the method, rather than the class). In a pipe, straight flue-cured easily causes tongue bite. Blending flue-cured with Perique (in a ratio ranging from 2 parts flue-cured to 1 part Perique, up to 1:1) can completely eliminate the bite, while increasing the nicotine hit. That is, when added to a typical English blend, Perique adds "smoothness."

Perique is sometimes used within commercial cigarette blends, and was used in the past as a minor blender in some American cigars.

My goals:
  • to set up a Perique press for a small quantity of tobacco
  • to avoid any construction
  • to use only components that are readily available
  • to have a cookie jar-sized press that will stand by itself

How Is Perique Made
Having read what there is in the historic literature (and watched the various Perique videos), I determined that the Perique process starts with color-cured leaf (stemmed, if the stem is not yet cured). This leaf can be formed into a twist, but that is not necessary. The leaf is then placed under enough pressure to express the juices from within the leaf lamina. The leaf is left to steep in this heady brew for about 3 months.

The old literature states that the gooey leaf was briefly released from pressure every 24 hours for the first 10 days, in order to allow the juice to be reabsorbed by the leaf, after which the pressure was again applied. This interval was increased thereafter to once or twice a week. Every few weeks, the leaf was removed, individually separated, and allowed to dry, only to be returned to the pressure process.

The typical duration of pressure treatment is 3 to 6 months. In St. James Parish, Louisiana, where Perique originated, the summer and winter temps are moderated by the proximity of the Mississippi River. So 60-80ºF is the usual range year-round.

The only real clue to the amount of pressure used is from the historic description of the dimensions of the "box" used, the length of the lever arm of the press, and the absolute weight hung on the press arm. It comes out in the range of 30-50 psi.

I believe that all that is required is to apply sufficient pressure to disrupt the cells of the lamina and express the juice. Temperature extremes should be avoided or mitigated.


Lexan jar with bail lid, purchased at Walmart (~$10).


The mesh is a plastic craft disk from the fabric store. It will go directly against the tobacco. The HDPE follower is from a cheese mold that I already had. (http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/p/45-Hard-Cheese-Mold-Small-1.html) The follower is not required.



This is a two-headed bar clamp from Lowe's (~$20). Max force rated at 400 pounds.


One 4" round untreated wood fence post from Lowe's (~$6). This will fit inside the Lexan jar.

A cut section of the bottom of the fence post can be used as the only follower for the press (clamp). Several such sections of varying length will allow different levels of tobacco in the jar, since the range of the clamp screw is not long enough to reach well into the Lexan jar. A long (the remaining) length of the post can be used for initial packing of the tobacco into the jar.

Since the two-headed clamp stands upright on its own, it will continue to do so with the Lexan jar in place.

It would be handy to remove the bail lid from the jar (just bend a metal retainer), but it should work fine with the lid still attached.

I haven't gotten to the point of starting the process yet.
  • pack in the leaf
  • tamp down then clamp
  • release the clamp
  • add more leaf
  • continue repeating until all the leaf is gone, or the jar is 3/4 filled
  • apply pressure gradually (perhaps over days) until the juices are expressed
  • release pressure weekly to allow absorption of liquid
  • monthly (or at least once at the end of the first month) remove the leaf, separate it (a messy proposition) and then return it to pressure
  • after several months (during which it will stink), it should begin to take on a rich, fruity smell.
I will make future posts as I go through the process.

Bob
 
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LeftyRighty

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#2
nice set up - should work very well, and it is a simple solution.
When I did my perique, I pulled the leaf out once a week for the first month, then switched to monthly. Seemed easier, and didn't have much trouble seperating leaf. Once it gets to stinking well, the leaf seperates well. I also needed to add water, occasionally, to keep the tobacco wet and in juices.
And it does stink! It took me 6+ months before it sweetened up.
 

BigBonner

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#3
Here is a picture of my press . It did work well and requires two hi lift barn jacks to press with . The each will lift 3500 pounds .
My advice is to keep the out side temperature 80 degrees or less . Mine seem to sour when the 105 degree hot weather hit last year .
This is a picture when I was just getting the barrel full of tobacco . The jacks I used is show in the picture .
 

holyRYO

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#6
deluxestogie, nice little set up. Interesting that the producers seem to end it before the next season's hot wheather starts.... maybe to prevent souring as BB noted.

BB, nice professional setup. Those barrels are hard to get, you must know somebody in the local whisky trade.

I have always wondered if the local "flora" of the perique locals has a lot to do with it. I here that it has a lot to do with beer making from wild yeast and bacteria, hard to duplicate the brewery's results because of the local microbes that have been established over time.
 

holyRYO

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#8
How is Perique Used?

One excellent use of Perique in tobacco blending is using it to neutralize the pH of more acidic tobacco, such as flue-cured tobacco
In still can't figure out if I like perique, when blended sparingly as noted above, I think it is great. When the perique taste comes thru, don't like that much. Just my taste buds talking.
 

deluxestogie

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#9
Interesting that the producers seem to end it before the next season's hot wheather starts.... maybe to prevent souring as BB noted.
Although you may be right, they occasionally maintain a barrel of Perique for years. The mean temps during the months between October and April range between 55 and 70ºF. I did see a video of the opening of one that was 10 years old (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOn4s6Ff7OY). It would seem that the huge oak barrels that they use would buffer temp swings to 3 or 4 day (24 hour day) averages, so that even the hot July days are averaged with the cooler nights.

Here is a link to a graph of their average temps.
http://www.usa.com/school-district-2201500-weather.htm

Bob
 

BigBonner

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My barrels was in my big tobacco barn and I had to move them out so I could use my tobacco barn . I put the barrels in a hoop hay barn and the morning sun hit the barrels and the outside temperatures reached 105 degrees . If I had of left the barrels in the big tobacco barn the temperatures would have been cooler .
I would say maybe placing them in a cool cellar or basement when the temperatures get hot would solve the problem .
The aged perique in the youtube video may have been stored in a cool place .
My perique would ferment and bubble just like the video of perique from Louisiana .

When I get time I will bust my barrel down and see what it looks like down deep . I know one thing when the barrel soured it smelled just like crap and before it was like perique should smell .
 

workhorse_01

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#11
Re: deluxestogie Grow Log 2013

Will are you charring the inside of the barrel? The wood flavors that oak imparts to any liquor is done so by charring the inside of the barrel. There was a post with a link on here somewhere, about The main Perique grower for the US. It focused more on the souring of the leaf, and the absence of oxygen, I believe.

I've read in several places that the pressure applied in the process is about 2000#s near about using turn jacks. those are the big 45 gallon barrels i believe But what PSI that would be over all is ? to me and would be my guess that it would be 30-50 PSI. With the formula you have there, that would probably answer the question. For my little barrels, it will probably need less pressure.

I'm assuming that oak will have the same effect on the baccy as that it has on wine, whiskey, ect,ect. In the process of fermenting, there is alcohol being made and of course the CO2 as well that can be seen by the bubbles that rise to the top. I can't find it now but there was a good article I was reading about the properties of oak and the flavours they add to spirits and wine.
 
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chillardbee

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Re: deluxestogie Grow Log 2013

Will are you charring the inside of the barrel? The wood flavors that oak imparts to any liquor is done so by charring the inside of the barrel. There was a post with a link on here somewhere, about The main Perique grower for the US. It focused more on the souring of the leaf, and the absence of oxygen, I believe.
Yes, the charring of the wood is crucial to the flavours that develope in the wood and end up in the spirits. In a documentary I was surprised to see that most of the spirits (whiskey, bourbon, ect.) are a water clear liquid that eventually gets it golden to amber colours from the charred oak.

Now, I'm not certian, but in one of the vids I saw of Percy Martin, I thought, or seem to remeber that they used the old used whiskey barrels for pressing in but I'll have to confirm that unless someone beats me to it.

In one of those videos I seem to recall that before the hands are twisted and put into the barrels, that they are sprayed or misted with water. I remember seeing them stripping the leaf from the stalk and thinking that that leaf was in extreme case, very moist.

as the time comes to harvest I'll be looking up more info on it all...again, I should be book marking these things.
 

ne3go

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#14
Can you treat Perique like other cigar leaves? Do the fementation in a kiln and use it in a cigar?
 

Knucklehead

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#15
Can you treat Perique like other cigar leaves? Do the fementation in a kiln and use it in a cigar?
Yes. Color cure it first, and then put it in the kiln for about a month. Or go by smell. When it stops smelling like rotting mowed grass and has that true tobacco smell coming from the vents, it's ready. It also helps the flavor to give it a couple of weeks of natural air curing after kilning.
 

workhorse_01

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Re: deluxestogie Grow Log 2013

All distilled spirits are clear to begin with. The color does come from the white oak barrel, but what I'm wondering is how do you get a seal and pressure on a barrel that is charred inside? The charring will leave cracks and crevices that wont seal, and I don't see how you can get the pressure if you use the normal head placement in the barrel? Whisky isn't under pressure other than what it makes once the head is sealed. Or does the fermentation cause the pressure? Where you fill with tobacco and water, seal the head and the pressure builds?
Yes, the charring of the wood is crucial to the flavours that develope in the wood and end up in the spirits. In a documentary I was surprised to see that most of the spirits (whiskey, bourbon, ect.) are a water clear liquid that eventually gets it golden to amber colours from the charred oak.

Now, I'm not certian, but in one of the vids I saw of Percy Martin, I thought, or seem to remeber that they used the old used whiskey barrels for pressing in but I'll have to confirm that unless someone beats me to it.

In one of those videos I seem to recall that before the hands are twisted and put into the barrels, that they are sprayed or misted with water. I remember seeing them stripping the leaf from the stalk and thinking that that leaf was in extreme case, very moist.

as the time comes to harvest I'll be looking up more info on it all...again, I should be book marking these things.
 

Knucklehead

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#19
The moisture in the whiskey and the perique swell the wood and seal the cracks. The staves that make up the barrel aren't tongue and groove, they're just butted together with flat edges and the bands hold them in place. If a barrel gets dried out you have to soak it for a long time before it will stop leaking between the staves.
 

Fisherman

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#20
Which bacteria or organism is really responsible for the fermentation?
There is something called bokashi fermentation and lacto bacililis fermentation that is all the craze.... Might help if a starter was added to barrel or culture to get head start. I think lacto basilis is what makes saurkraut too.
 
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