Whole Leaf Tobacco

A Kiln, Tobacco, the Process, and Why

Jitterbugdude

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
4,246
Points
113
Location
Northeast Maryland
Brent comes around every once in awhile. As for me, I vent mine once or twice a day for the first week. I've been doing container kiln-ing for a long time and have always noticed a pressure release (like opening a soda) the first few days.
 

buck

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
560
Points
43
Location
Vancouver BC Canada
Brent, I noticed the same in my kilning in tubs effort. The only I thing that I can think of is top leaves are exposed to more air while inner leaves less inside the stack.
Also, the more moisture the darker the leaf , I have some leaf that are black on the outer and tip edges probably due to leaf being thinner at the edges absorbing more moisture.
If you spray on the top when you add moisture that may explain the darker areas on top leaves. I wonder why stacked in Pilons doesn't have the same effect.

Brent, how about the aroma ? Mine smells close the what it did when I first started kilning.


<Edit I only open the tubs when I add moisture maybe one twice a week >
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
Apologies I have been deeply involved with my steam project and have neglected the forum. If you have been keeping an eye on me you will know I started with leaf in the kiln. Then I changed to the use of tubs which in my mind offers greater control over the leaf. It also makes for a simpler kiln set up. For a long time I just loaded the tubs up but the last batch I changed that in stead of just loading I stacked the leaf in the tubs.

In the last batch (Stacked Leaf) I found the leaf held it's moisture longer (less misting required) and moisture stayed more uniform (the top, middle, & bottom of the stack felt much the same).
After smoking 6 pounds of the stacked leaf I think it is smoother, as for smell it varies. At the begging of the aging through the 4 week period it changes. At the end of the period it smells like smoking tobacco, but seems to improve after shredding and resting a week. I have also noticed (no matter how it is placed in the tub/s) that all thou smooth at the end of the period, if shredded and allowed to rest it smooths more. But you should not let it become to dry or it will develop a rough edge.

I'm going to stop here I'll make another video and talk of just what it is I do.... I fell stacking produces better tobacco.
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
Just a quick clip Tobacco improving after the Kiln. If you have ever bought loose smoking tobacco and paid attention to how it felt, this is what it should feel like after shredding and allowing to dry more. When it feels this way is when I like to bag and smoke it. Also if the moisture is left a little higher and the tobacco is stored it can improve more. My opinion.
.

To answer buck in post #182 aroma will improve. In the first week of the kiln tobacco should smell sweet and then should develop to a refined smell of smoking tobacco. It will not smell the same as before 4 weeks in the kiln. We are talking VA Bright Leaf - even after setting as a compressed bail of 45 / 50 pounds for 2 years the kiln makes a huge difference in my book.
 

Smokin Harley

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2014
Messages
2,573
Points
48
Location
Grant ,Alabama
Brent, I noticed the same in my kilning in tubs effort. The only I thing that I can think of is top leaves are exposed to more air while inner leaves less inside the stack.
Also, the more moisture the darker the leaf , I have some leaf that are black on the outer and tip edges probably due to leaf being thinner at the edges absorbing more moisture.
If you spray on the top when you add moisture that may explain the darker areas on top leaves. I wonder why stacked in Pilons doesn't have the same effect.

Brent, how about the aroma ? Mine smells close the what it did when I first started kilning.


<Edit I only open the tubs when I add moisture maybe one twice a week >
I think I know the reason why the pilon darkens the whole pile while in the kiln only the top darkens...I'm just throwing a theory out there, I could be completely wrong ...
In the pilon the leaf is piled up with moisture whether it is its own or added as a spray mist as it is built up. The Pilon generates its own heat ( like a compost pile,only the pile is taken down and rearranged just before the compost action which would break down the leaf to crumbles occurs) So theres an internal heat being made by the leaf itself in order to ferment.
In the kiln, the heat is introduced externally of the pile and moisture is then expected to permeate to the center of the pile. So, the outside of the kilned pile would then have the moisture and heat to darken the leaves.
I hung my leaf strung on wires in the kiln , when it came down to adding more leaf to fill the kiln, I put the older leaf in tubs to finish while the new strings were hung as the previous. I noticed a slight difference in color when I did this. The tubbed leaf got darker and a slightly sweeter aroma than the open hung leaf. I think there was a small scale pilon fermentation action going on within the kiln. Some of the leaf towards the bottom of the tubs actually became compost like and very fragile. Which tells me I didn't turn/rearrange the leaf in the tubs enough .
Then I did something that changed it even further. After the month of kiln time (4 weeks hanging, 1 week in tubs), I separated ,sorted and bagged my leaf , then stuck it back in the kiln on the top shelf ,bags unsealed. After one week that very same leaf came out even sweeter and fruitier smelling than tubbing had. I'm tempted to bag everything sealed up with as little moisture content as possible and keep it going in the kiln (heat only,no water in the crock pot) all winter long . If one month of the kiln is equivalent to one year aging . I would assume then that 3 to 4 months in non-stop would then be an additional 3 -4 years equivalent aging. Come out in the spring about seed sowing time with nearly "4 or even 5 years age" on them and they're still only 2015 crop.
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
Harley nice comment honestly I really like what you have added here. It has been a belief that after 4 weeks in the kiln the leaf will under go little to no change (bright leaf). I both agree and disagree with that belief I have found that method can and does play a part in the out come, the how matters. With the use of tubs if the leaf is just piled in I find the moisture moves from center to outer and the pile needs to be dumped, and moisture added as it is put back while changing leaf position. On the other hand if the leaf is opened and stacked one leaf on top of the other misting every few leaves while stacking. Then placing the stacked leaf into the tub the moisture seems to circulate and move back into the leaf. The leaf stack holds the moisture and does not develop dry areas and leaf centers remain moist. The amount of moister and how heavily misted can and will define color. Moisture must be present if the leaf is to age (a point I'm trying to make in the video post #184) I've been bagging leaf with a moderate moisture for more then a year now. There is always improvement from that straight from the kiln and the tobacco that has been bagged and allowed to set for a time. But to realize the true effect the leaf after shredding needs to rest 12 plus hours and have reached a moisture content suitable for making and smoking a cigarette.
The goal a smooth nonirritating full flavored smoke, I believed can be achieved through different approaches.
Thanks for your input Smokin Harley
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
Running another batch of tobacco half will be done as usual and the other half I'll use less water. See if I can keep a lighter color and compare the smoke.
 

Gmac

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2014
Messages
200
Points
18
Location
Central Mississippi
Running another batch of tobacco half will be done as usual and the other half I'll use less water. See if I can keep a lighter color and compare the smoke.
What a coincidence, I'm doing the same thing with some 2015 white stemed burley. It air cured to a nice light golden brown in my insulated barn, just processing now.

Stay Bundled! Gmac
 

wrapper

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2015
Messages
140
Points
0
Location
Western Cape Winelands, South Africa
I am about to attempt my first harvest, cure and fermentations of some cigar leaf and I have to say that this is the single most informative thread on the whole www on the subject. Thanks, respect and kudos to the contributors, especially AmaxB.
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
wrapper we are glad you have found the thread. The whole idea behind it is to offer help with understanding keep in mind most of what I say or do is in regard to VA Bright Leaf, it's what I smoke. Keep in mind other tobaccos will react differently. How ever basics are the same, keep simple little notes - what you did - outcome. With a little work and a few runs you will soon begin to understand your tobacco and how to get what you want from it.
Good luck with the harvest, your fermenting, and enjoy a cigar you created!
 

ChinaVoodoo

Moderator
Joined
Sep 1, 2014
Messages
4,776
Points
113
Location
Edmonton, AB, CA
Running another batch of tobacco half will be done as usual and the other half I'll use less water. See if I can keep a lighter color and compare the smoke.
I've been reading this study:
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00380768.2013.842884#/doi/full/10.1080/00380768.2013.842884

This group of researchers demonstrate that the flue curing process is similar to that in beer making. Ie, it is due to alpha amylase breaking down starches and maltose into simple sugars. It is also noted that the presence of maltose makes the leaves darker. The breakdown of maltose is therefore a contributing factor t to the light colour of flue cured leaf. I wonder if the darkening of tobacco in the kiln is due to another reaction causing the further breakdown of previously unaffected starches into maltose. I suspect using less water may only produce lighter tobacco because there is less aging happening.

If what I've learned from home brewing hold true for tobacco, the leaf drying step in flue curing denatures the alpha amylase, but I theorize that if you could reintroduce alpha amylase to the darkened kilned leaf at the temperatures mentioned in the study, you could relighten it. It's worth a try.
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
If looking at the results section you see sugar shoots way up that would explain the sweet smell after cure. It also says the maltose goes to undetectable (The sucrose and galactose contents remained constant, whereas maltose content decreased rapidly immediately after curing until it could not be detected.)
I do believe the amount of moisture present has a direct impact on the break down (aging). After all vegetation becomes darker as it rots and aging is controlled rotting of the leaf in the kiln. So more moisture will produce a darker leaf indicating a greater break down. The more the leaf decays the more of what cause the harsh effect on the throat and undesirable taste when smoke is removed. I also believe the tobacco can be scorched if temperature is above 125F causing the tobacco to smoke harsh after aging. This is why I keep my temperature at 122 / 123F in the first weeks then drop it to 199 / 120F in the finishing weeks. For me it seems to produce a better smoking tobacco also creating a tobacco that smells like a good cigarette tobacco. As far as lightening it's color after it has darkened I don't think that is possible (it has decayed). The process big tobacco uses is not the same as what we do with the kiln. If I remember correctly they mist the leaf with a solution in a tumbler after chopping, heat the leaf for a time, blend it, then pile it into a room / silo where it remains for a period of weeks.
I think this is why it retains a lighter color but still smooths the smoke.
My batch this time around should have been removed from the kiln a week ago. To unfold and flatten my leaf for stacking I have had to mist and reheat the leaf. I have not been after it like I should be, after stacking I've got to lose most of the moisture I had put in. This takes a little time and so I'm getting some pretty dark leaf. I've been smoking some of this tobacco for the last three days and it is smoking nice so I'm not to concerned about it.
 

Gmac

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2014
Messages
200
Points
18
Location
Central Mississippi
Running another batch of tobacco half will be done as usual and the other half I'll use less water. See if I can keep a lighter color and compare the smoke.
This is the burley I was refering to in post #189 after running in Kiln in tubs for 35 days at 123 degrees with very little water, only darkened a wee bit & smokes with out a cough- straight by it's self. I think you have hit the nail on the Head!!

Gmac

IMG_1909.jpg
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
That looks great Gmac I'd say you have come full circle. Aging tobacco in a kiln is not hard, it is simply a matter of learning what is going on while it is going through the process. All should keep in mind things will very between kilns - mine is not the same as yours - so a person needs to pay attention and learn hands on while taking information seen to be used as a base line. After joining this forum and researching on my I own I have learned so much. The biggest thing being nothing is etched in stone from planting to finish.
 

tampadave

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2016
Messages
6
Points
3
Location
Tampa, Florida.
Hello all. I'm new here, but I found this, that provides anecdotal support regarding the wetness and compression of tobacco leaves, and fermentation. I know from my gardening, that my compost pile will heat itself, and I use that to kill bad things in the compost, from pathogens to weed seeds. This article describes how professional tobacco companies create maduro tobacco:

http://cigarpress.com/maduro-the-myth-and-the-method

An extra benefit in this article is the explanation of primings: valado, seco and ligero/viso.

In the article the heat is provided by the fermentation process, not the room it is in. The pilones are covered with breathable tarps, but not heated. I suspect the ambient in the room is typical to summer heat and humidity in Florida and/or Central America.

Thank you AmaxB, for putting me onto to: archive.org. WOW there's a lot of good information there! And thank you for this post. I've learned tons from which to try my own hand at aging my tobacco.

My interests are mostly in cigar and pipe tobacco. Living in Tampa, Florida, I am surrounded by cigar professionals, and will share my learnings with ya'll, as we say down here.

David
 

deluxestogie

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
16,025
Points
113
Location
near Blacksburg, VA
That's an interesting article, but contains its own errors.
MADURO – THE MYTH AND THE METHOD said:
Fermenting at a higher temperature is what gives the tobacco a darker than usual color. We need to reiterate that the only reason thick ligero leaves are used is because they can stand up to the extra fermentations and higher temperatures.
The dark color of maduro is a result of:
  • the tendency of the specific variety to produce dark leaf
  • the stalk level from which the leaf is primed
Kilning different primings from the very same plant (e.g Hanava 322) in the same kiln at the same time at the same temp (~125ºF) for the same duration (~30 days) will yield lighter leaf from the lowest primings, medium-brown leaf from the middle primings, and progressively darker leaf--maduro all the way to deep oscuro--as the priming level approaches the top of the stalk. I have demonstrated this, and posted it with photos elsewhere on the forum.

Upper leaf may not be "on the plant longer" than lower leaf, since the upper leaf may not even form for a month after the lower leaves have reached their full growth and approach time for priming. The plant itself modifies the distribution of nutrients and alkaloids that are transported to varying levels of the stalk. And in pyramidal plant forms (many of the cigar types) the upper leaves do not shade the lower leaf from sun exposure. Lower leaves reach maturity as thinner leaf. Upper leaves reach maturity as thicker leaf. Nicotine and volatile aromatics are always more concentrated in upper leaf.

"Fermenting" to 150ºF destroys the primary oxidase enzyme within the leaf lamina, and dramatically reduces the ability of the leaf to exhibit further aging improvement.

Fermentation in piles requires several thousand pounds of tobacco, most of which simply serves as thermal insulation for the exothermic reaction of the lamina's natural oxidase and peroxidase reactions within the insulated core of the pile. (So a domed, cylindrical pile is the most thermally efficient way to pile tobacco on a floor.) Hence, the pile must be broken down and reassembled repeatedly, in order to move the "insulation" leaf into the core of the pile. This is a workable method, though labor intensive. If electricity is not available, then it's the only method. In low-wage parts of the world, it's probably still the least expensive way to do it.

I do thank you for the link. I always enjoy reading such articles, because there are often pearls of wisdom embedded in them.

Bob
 

Tutu

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2016
Messages
724
Points
63
Location
Dominican Republic
The dark color of maduro is a result of:
  • the tendency of the specific variety to produce dark leaf
  • the stalk level from which the leaf is primed
But wouldn't you agree it has to do with the duration of fermentation as well. I think temperature dictates the duration of fermentation. When temperatures are too high the leaf will break/burn next to the stem. When they are too low there is only little of the chemical process going on. But you can certainly "over-ferment" tobacco, thereby giving it a darker colour.

In low-wage parts of the world, it's probably still the least expensive way to do it.
It is indeed, I can confirm
 
Top