Whole Leaf Tobacco

A Kiln, Tobacco, the Process, and Why

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
Amax, I have a question that I've been thinking about a lot. In your latest video you are kilning Bright Leaf that has been flue cured and baled for two years. What does it taste like before kilning? I'm wondering because, I never liked the fact that Virginia types get a lot darker when kilned. The taste also changes and to me it tastes less like commercial flue cured.

So I guess what I'm asking is why kiln it if it is already flue cured and aged. I've kilned Virginia types more out of impatience. But I've been experimenting with kilning it for less than four weeks to prevent it from turning too dark and losing that "bright" taste.
I do it because in my opinion it smooths it more, plus there is still a grass taste. I want tobacco that taste like it did 50 years ago when I started smoking it. I smoke straight bright leaf mostly sometimes I add some dark air to change up.
Bottom line in my book it makes it better. After the kiln I put it in an air tight bag and let it sit around 8 to 12 weeks the leaves are damp when I bag it. If smelling it through the bag after 8 weeks you can notice a sort of fruity smell, but when taken out of the bag it just smells like good tobacco, and is a little to damp to shred with out risk of gumming up the shredder. So I remove the stems and let it sit on a rack in piles of 3 to 6 leaves for a few hours (indoors) then they go to the shredder. Oh I have no mold problems at all.
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
Why don't you just move on down here with Ricky & I ? Then you could grow three crops a year. Gmac
I want mild climate, room to move, great fresh water fish, big game hunting, cheap property cost, and low cost of living. Example 53 acres mature timber, 1200 square foot home with 2 car attached garage for 74,000 with under 500 a year in property tax.
I will grow most of what I eat, take game, have a few chickens, fish, make most or all of my power via steam and wind. In north east Maine there are no jobs so housing is cheap. For steam I will use wood and used motor oil. I want to live on a fix income with the cost of living coming in less then the money coming in allowing for trips and savings.
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
Too much diversity down there. Be nice to watch other northerly grows amax, watching your analytical method is sure to give me some tips too. I have a rough time color curing for one. The window of time when you can do it like the southerners is crazy short.

BTW, next year I'll be taking some time to explore around moose head lake to see if I want to move there.

I'm in the process of building a kiln now, procrastinated too long already, and wanted to thank you for this thread.
You're welcome Smokes, that's why I started the thread to be of some small help. If you don't mind winter have a look at north east Maine! Yes I will be growing up there, growing 3 years then skipping one or two, then growing some more. After getting all this experience under my belt the kiln I build there will be a dandy. I'll also have a small air curing shed plus a flue curing shed old style. My place here is business so it will take a bit of time to sell, man I wish it would go fast I'm ready to move now! Know any one who wants to buy a thriving business and not have to drive to work send em my way.. They could just step in with inventory and all, after getting their retail license all they would need to do is open the door.
 

DonH

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2012
Messages
1,609
Points
0
Location
Massachusetts
I do it because in my opinion it smooths it more, plus there is still a grass taste. I want tobacco that taste like it did 50 years ago when I started smoking it. I smoke straight bright leaf mostly sometimes I add some dark air to change up.
Bottom line in my book it makes it better. After the kiln I put it in an air tight bag and let it sit around 8 to 12 weeks the leaves are damp when I bag it. If smelling it through the bag after 8 weeks you can notice a sort of fruity smell, but when taken out of the bag it just smells like good tobacco, and is a little to damp to shred with out risk of gumming up the shredder. So I remove the stems and let it sit on a rack in piles of 3 to 6 leaves for a few hours (indoors) then they go to the shredder. Oh I have no mold problems at all.
OK, if you smoke it unblended, I can see the advantage. When I did a little flue curing, I kilned most of it so it would be ready faster, but I really liked the unkilned flue cured I had, but it was a little on the harsh side without adding Burley and Turkish which I always do. At least I know I wasn't doing anything wrong when my Virginia types turned dark after kilning. I did have some air cured Bright Leaf from my first crop that I aged for a year. It did have a slight grassy flavor, and I kilned it for only one week, and it kept a bright color and was the best tasting Virginia type that I ever made, so I may try that again.

Thanks again for the storage container method of kilning. That is definitely the way to go, especially for those of us who travel and can't fill the crockpot every day.
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
Hi DonH one week won't do to much, end of second week it will be a medium tan brown, it starts getting dark at some point in the third week. If you use less water it will not get as dark and real benefit comes about mid third week.
 

DonH

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2012
Messages
1,609
Points
0
Location
Massachusetts
Hi DonH one week won't do to much, end of second week it will be a medium tan brown, it starts getting dark at some point in the third week. If you use less water it will not get as dark and real benefit comes about mid third week.
The one week batch was done on leaf that had already aged for a year. And it made a big difference because I kept some unkilned for comparison. Again, that was the best I produced. For my un-aged Virginia types , you're right at least two weeks was needed, and it would depend on the variety. I would test smoke some as the process went on.

I was thinking of kilning with less moisture this year too. Also like you did, a little lower temperature, 127-120F instead of 125.

For Burley, Orientals, Dark Air, and cigar types, none of this matters. 4 weeks at 120-125 and let it go.
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
High DonH lately I've been keeping my flue cured at 119 / 120F seems to improve a bit (you can get away with it). The air cure I find will mold at those temps so I stay 124 / 127F. I have kilned up to 8 weeks and have concluded any thing past 4 / 4 1/2 is a waist. I think temperature is really something a person needs to zero in on being it can very from kiln to kiln.
Any how happy puffing
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
This batch of tobacco will be coming out of the kiln in a few days, I've kept the temperature at a steady 119F. This is the first time I have straightened and flattened the leaves before kilning and it has had an interesting effect. It seems the heat within the tubs was more uniform. I'll explain - In the past leaves on the bottom of the tub would have a tendency to dry out, moisture would move from bottom of the pile to the top, and so I would have dump the tub out and rotate the leaves while adding moisture (misting). This time that was not the case the leaves held uniform moisture from bottom to top. I did not need to dump the tub (that is nice), just open them to breath and mist a little. I also did not need to mist as much I don't understand that, it's a sealed tub that should not change - but it did. I think this will be my best run ever, I suspect it will smoke smoother and taste better we will see soon.
I'll post a video showing just how I bag my tobacco for storage when it come out of the kiln. Might help some one....
 

deluxestogie

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
16,434
Points
113
Location
near Blacksburg, VA
Here in southwest Virginia, I have noticed a pronounced association between the ambient conditions (I'm talking about the conditions in my enclosed back porch.) and the water distribution within my kiln. My house (and my back porch) are not air conditioned, so summertime raises the ambient temp, and rainy days raise the humidity.

During the really hot days of August, the kiln's Crockpot spent more time asleep, and so it's moisture generation was diminished. As autumn temps approach, the Crockpot works more, and pumps more moisture per day into the kiln.

I guess what that indicates is that my 2" XPS foam insulation (R-10) could be improved upon. But more practically, I need to be aware that changes of season require alterations in my refill schedule and Crockpot lid positioning.

Bob
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
I'm really just a few hours away from you, yes I could see a direct effect on the crock pot in regard to local temperatures. But what caused me wonder is my kiln is very well insulated, door seals well, and the tobacco is in a sealed tub. All is the same as in the past with exception to the leaves being placed neatly in the tub and a steady 119F through out the period. I don't think 4 to 5 degrees more could make this obvious change, how ever maybe. I think it is due to the way the leaves were placed in the tub and the ability for the moisture to move freely within the leaves not getting trapped at the top due to the tub being filled to the walls.
 

deluxestogie

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
16,434
Points
113
Location
near Blacksburg, VA
I have no doubt that temperature fluctuations within a kiln--and the resulting temperature differentials--can function as a heat pump that drives condensation away from any warmer surface, and toward any cooler surface. In the absence of closed containers inside the kiln, this appears as simply condensation that tends to accumulate in a cooler corner (in my case, the bottom corner farthest from the Crockpot). With smaller, closed containers, each one will demonstrate that effect. My kiln cycles between 120 and 125ºF.

If the temp remains relatively stable, then the moisture equalizes, minimizing the condensation--either within smaller containers, or on a cooler surface of the kiln wall.

Bob
 

Knucklehead

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2012
Messages
9,588
Points
113
Location
NE Alabama
I'm not sure the term applies to what is happening: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/osmosis

Perhaps the moisture finds it easier to move from leaf to leaf rather than move from leaf to air to leaf. The way you describe stacking the leaf before should mean more air gaps in the stack. Now you have flattened the leaf and are stacking it with fewer air gaps.

There is no air movement in the tub is there? No fans?

EDIT: This is pure speculation.
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
I'm not sure the term applies to what is happening: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/osmosis

Perhaps the moisture finds it easier to move from leaf to leaf rather than move from leaf to air to leaf. The way you describe stacking the leaf before should mean more air gaps in the stack. Now you have flattened the leaf and are stacking it with fewer air gaps.

There is no air movement in the tub is there? No fans?

EDIT: This is pure speculation.
No Knucklehead, If just dumping the leaf in the tub and filling it in about a day it all settles and air gaps / pockets are gone and moisture moves from bottom to the top. When placing two stacks of leaf in the tub space is left in places around the leaves. After settling the spaces remain it appears this allows moisture to balance through out the leaf in general. When I first started using the tubs I left spaces around the leaf and walls of the tubs and had a mold problem. So I filled the tubs solid this cured the mold problem, at the time I felt the amount of water misted was OK and the mold was due to space in the tubs and the tubs being sealed. Today I know I was using to much water misting. I can't wait to smoke some and see if it improved doing it this way. I know I used much less water this round because the leaf simply did not need more and the last time I checked the leaf had darkened but not as dark as in the past. I was just kidding about osmosis, if I didn't know I would just look it up never letting you know I did not. Any way yes it is, if lifting layers and feeling the leaf in the stack it all feels pretty much the same. If thinking about it they packed leaf in barrels to ship it, photos and descriptions I have seen leads a person to believe it was done in a systematic orderly fashion and air spaces were left here and there if I remember correctly. It has been a while sense I looked at that stuff.
 

Knucklehead

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2012
Messages
9,588
Points
113
Location
NE Alabama
When I first started using the tubs I left spaces around the leaf and walls of the tubs and had a mold problem. So I filled the tubs solid this cured the mold problem, at the time I felt the amount of water misted was OK and the mold was due to space in the tubs and the tubs being sealed.
I'm just throwing this out there cause I don't know for sure and sometimes I like to play devil's advocate. Mold shouldn't form above 118F, so if your temp probes are in the kiln, you may want to move them into the tubs somehow for a more accurate reading of what is going on at the leaf.

When you packed the leaf tightly together in the tub, you may have induced a natural fermentation within the leaf (heating within the leaf like a pilon)(and coupled with the heat of the kiln). This could possibly have raised the temps above 118F inside the tub, eliminating the possibility of mold formation.

Again, I'm just throwing this out there. Beer does that sometime.
 
Top