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Whole Leaf Tobacco

Wood types for Latakia

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#1
I have read all of the threads in the Latakia section of the forum, and i thought a good idea would be to have a thread dedicated specifically to cataloging the efforts people have made in the realm of wood selection, asking questions, and making suggestions, but limiting discussion of "how to" because that's been clearly covered. It seems that although there are different accounts of what woods are used commercially, and historically, we do know some, and that for the most of us, the traditional fuels used for Latakia production are unavailable.

Unless if my reading skills are abysmal, in Cyprus, Latakia is usually made with a blend of wood, mostly consisting of Mastic, but also smaller portions of myrtle, cypress, and pine. In Syria, it's less certain, but most likely, Latakia is smoked primarily with oak, with smaller portions of pine. I'm sure everyone has access to some sort of pine, but pine only accounts for 4%of the fuel in Cyprus.

I hope to give Latakia making a shot this year, and hope to do the most accurate rendition I can with the wood choices available to me. It would be nice if one day, we can nail this Latakia thing.

Other woods that have been suggested are juniper, fir, cedar, spruce. One source I found when reading about mastic gum (the sap), is that almond sap has been used in the past as a substitute. Perhaps the wood would also be a good substitute? Peach is closely related to almond, anyone ever burn peach? Another suggestion is larch. The needles are softer and cleaner because they are deciduous, and they have a more generic conifer smell than pine which is rather distinct. (and they grow around here.)
 

Jitterbugdude

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#3
I really do not think anyone is going to find a substitute for the wood used in Syria/Cyprus. But what the hell, playing around is half the fun. Spraying mastic oil onto various varieties of leaf had no effect whatsoever so there is definitely more to it than mastic.
 

chillardbee

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#4
The uniqueness of latakia comes down to location. The aromatic woods that are local to the region and (once was) most available, produced the latakia we've all become acustom to from Syria and such.

I think it would be good to find local aromatic woods within our own regions to cure and process our own unique style of latakia. Here in BC, I might try using cedar, Spruce, Pine, with other woods native to the area like willow and alder. local climate will probably play a big part of it too since a high humidity climate for the curing and firing stage will allow the leaf take a better treatment. Elaborating on this last sentence, let me explain. The leaf being in higher case and cooler then it's enviroment when subjected to a warmer moist smoke will better accumilate the layers of particals of smoke eventually making it black.
 

istanbulin

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#5
Genus of Prunus (almonds, peaches, plums etc.) can't provide an aroma which can be attributed to Latakia's. For both Syria and Cyprus some same Maquis (Mediterranean - mostly evergreen - both low ang high shrubs) take place while smoking tobacco and smost of those shrubs are not native to North America. The main trees growing in the region are below.

- Oaks (Quercus)
Kermes Oak (Quercus coccifera)
Valonia Oak (Quercus macrolepis)

- Pines (Pinus)
Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis)
Black Pine (Pinus nigra)

- Cedars (Cedrus)
Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani)

- Firs (Abies)
Taurus Fir (Abies cilicica)

- Junipers (Juniperus)
Eastern Mediterranean Juniper (Juniperus excelsa​)

If I intend to smoke up some tobacco to make Latakia I'd pick woods and greens of the trees above. Wetted woods also provide more smoke. I did write the names in Latin to avoid name confusion. For example, Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is actually not a cedar but a juniper. Search Juniperus, Abies, Cedrus, Pinus and Quercus ​on a databease and find out if they're growing around you and see if they work out nice on fire curing to produce your local Latakia.
 

FmGrowit

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#6
Keep in mind the first order in creating your own Latakia will be using the proper Turkish/Oriental variety.

We broke down a few bales of Latakia a week ago and there was a very distinct kerosene smell from the freshly opened bale interior.



My guess is the kerosene smell was off-gassing of whatever pine that was used. I'd suggest allowing any homemade Latakia to rest for a while, perhaps several months, before using.



I assume the gases couldn't escape the bale because it was so tightly compressed.

Coincidentally, a vendor from Turkey recently approached me with an offer to purchase Latakia. It was being sold as "this years crop", but was actually from 2013. This might have been a typo or Latakia is held for a year before it is offered on the market.
 

Attachments

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#8
I read that smoking meat with cedar can cause serious allergic reactions. However, I read this on the internet. Is there truth to that? Should we be concerned at all. I always assumed they were referring to Thuja plicata.
 
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