Whole Leaf Tobacco

A Kiln, Tobacco, the Process, and Why

AmaxB

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In post #150 this thread I pointed out there has been a change in the way my tobacco has held moisture due to the way I placed it in the tubs. I just went to check on it because it is time to remove it and bag it. It all looked OK moisture is a bit heavy but uniform. Very interesting for me, the top two or three leaves of the stack have gotten dark all most black in areas. But under those the leaves are about the same color as they were two weeks ago and this is true to the bottom of the stack. This is very interesting for me and causes me to question my method of leaf placement in the tubs, moisture, and temperature. In the past I have run a batch at mixed temperatures and steady temperature (I have run at 119F steady before) and have not had this result. I have run at different levels of moisture and have not had this result. The leaves have always been consistent in color throughout the batch.

Three things have changed in my method with this batch of tobacco 1) the way it was placed in the tubs. 2) I needed to mist less - due to less moisture loss. and 3) I did not need to rotate leaf position in the tubs throughout the process due to moisture loss.

It has been pointed out that maybe compression because of the leaves settling might be causing temperature change, and it was suggested I use probes to monitor this. I did just that way back in the beginning and saw no change within the tubs if compared to temperature of the kiln outside of the tubs the two were the same. Each tub has 10 to 13 pounds in it not enough to cause temperature climb. Also temperature at top and bottom of the kiln will very not more then 3F.

It has to be the way the tobacco was placed in the tubs causing the change in effect. I wonder if it will taste better when smoked. I removed about a pound of leaf and put it in the kiln to dry a bit for the shredder and will soon know, the rest of the tobacco is airing.
Will tell in next post....
 
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vinconco

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I've been following this thread and AmaxB's technique for a year now and have used this technique on a smaller scale using the tubs in a temp controlled enclosure.

I'm only doing one tub at a time in my box and I've found that I do not have to adjust the moisture in the tubs for weeks if I keep a moisture source (crock pot w/ water) in the enclosure. The tub seal prevents moisture from entering but the moisture has nowhere to escape to because the box humidity is high. So I never have to adjust the tub moisture. I get very even results.

Another thing I do that is slightly different is I place the thermostat probe into the tub with the tobacco. I find this keeps the temperature in the tub where I need it to be instead of the box. Using an infared thermometer I noticed wide swings between the box temp and the actual temps of the tobacco in the tub when the thermostat was placed in the box instead of the tub.

Thanks to Amax for getting me pointed in the right direction with kilning. The results using his technique are fantastic.
 

AmaxB

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vinconco I'm glad to hear things are working out for you and respect your willingness to be different. No two home built Kilns will be the same and so thinking outside the box is a real plus sounds like you have got yours pretty much figured out. The crock pot added for moisture inside and outside of the tube is interesting creating a balance as a whole. I'll have to try that some time.....

About the batch I have finishing now, I've been smoking it all after noon and still remain undecided on it's being better. The taste is slightly different, I'll decide in a day or two.
 

vinconco

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Amax, I read post 150 and I had the same problem with the tub continually drying out and having to be re-misted. That is why I tried using water in the crock pot which stopped the moisture loss. There does get to be a lot of humidity and condensation in my kiln (90 qt cooler) but the moisture in the tub remains constant and perfect during the entire 4 weeks or more of kilning. Water condenses all over the tub but the seal protects the tobacco. I open it every few days to aerate the tobacco. When it's time to bring the tobacco in the tub into proper case for storage I just let the water in the crock pot dry up and the tobacco in the tub will dry out enough for storage in about a week or so while staying at kilning temps to prevent mold.... Works out easily

Another thing I have found makes the process work better is to frogleg the tobacco leaves before kilning. I bring them into medium case and use a pizza cutter to remove about 2/3 of the main stem. The leaves will still stack and will kiln a lot better in the tubs. You have to remove the stems at some point anyway so why not before you kiln.... I have found that leaves kilned in this manner will turn an even dark color throughout the tub.
 

Bex

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Just reading this and see that you would like to go completely off the grid when you get to Maine. Wondering if you have seen this:
http://www.teslamotors.com/powerwall

Also a question - in the Swiss video a few pages back (and in others that I have seen) they no longer 'string' their tobacco for curing but seem to place it in some kind of rack and 'clamp' it in place, and then just hang the rack. Have you (or anyone here) done this, or have any info about how this can be done for the home grower? I'm already looking for easier ways to do things....:)

A really great thread, by the way, with tons of info. Thanks for taking the time to post this (and the videos)!!
 

deluxestogie

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Interesting video, and clear procedures. If you are not selling your bags of tobacco by the pound, I'm not sure of the advantage of exactly weighing the leaf. It does make inventory more precise. Very fancy, foot-operated sealer.

My one concern is that, judging from the visible "floppiness" of the leaf that was packaged, it is still a bit moist for final packaging. Maybe not. But I am afraid to seal up leaf in that high a case.

Bob
 

AmaxB

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No not selling it Bob, it's just nice to count up bags and know what you have. Yep your right about the case I bagged 5 pounds it will be gone in as many weeks. I know from experience it will keep OK for about 3 months the way it is, but the rest is in the kiln drying out more I want it in a low case then it will keep some years. It will improve more if stored awhile I break out a pound of what I grew now and then and it is what some where around two years now. I keep it in a room in the basement this room stays right at 68F plus minus 2. That bag sealer I bought more then 20 years ago for bagging packs of kitty litter sifting bags and used it about a year. Then it set in the garage all this time. Tried to sell it once in a yard sale but no one bought it. I have a use for it now so I would not sell it, there is a foot pedal that came with it I just put an extension on it so I could use it from the side. I looked for them about a year ago and they are still selling them. I think they were asking around 240.00 for one nice to have for tobacco.
 

AmaxB

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I was not sure if the tobacco had better smoke qualities this round or not. I smoked all of the test tobacco that I shredded the other day so I pulled all the tobacco from the kiln this morning to check it and shred some more.
I'll post something on it later, I just finished smoking a cig to test this and must say it is much better, really smooth. It's decided I'll kiln all my tobacco this way in the future. The stacks are airing right now but will go back to the kiln for more drying.
 

AmaxB

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Out of the tubs on the table, this batch is done, it goes back to the kiln for an over night balancing of moisture, and then off to storage and the family. Eight smokers (not counting me) equals 32 pounds a month lord help me.
This is good tobacco!
.
 

AmaxB

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This is a must read it will answer many questions for you. ----> http://archive.org/stream/cu31924003314469#page/n29/mode/2up <----- to download click on the link upper left of your screen.
.
This is a wonderful short book I read it what seems to be years ago and forgot it. I have been re-reading it this morning and for those interested in flue curing pay close attention to this section at the books beginning. Having been one who has walked this road I would say it need not be complicated. If I were to build another chamber to cure with it would be something like this. 6 x 6 x 8 feet high with a 3 foot peaked roof for a total height of 11 feet. At the peaks I would have small vent doors. The floor would be of pavers or concrete & walls 3 to 4 feet up of block the balance insulated frame with plywood interior. At the top of the block walls I would leave a ledge for walk boards. I would use flues of 4 to 6 inches on the floor with a small torpedo heater on a thermostat and also use a wet bulb. It would easily handle 200 plants with stick tiers 24 to 30 inches apart (in height). If I ever get to Maine I will build something like this. I'll grow a crop every other year I am not to sure how a bright leaf will do up there but am willing to find out. There is no mystery to flue curing other than understanding what to do.

Edit: This was just off the top of my head, no hair up there....
 
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deluxestogie

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Colonel Ragland's booklet is a dandy. Keep in mind that its purpose was to sell tobacco seed to novice and potential tobacco growers in new tobacco growing areas. Many of its methods are clearly antiquated. It is ~34 pages. [FTT has well over 100,000 posts.] I would say that it's not a bad substitute for our FAQ for Beginning Growers, just to give a rough idea of the general process of growing and curing. Many similar pamphlets by other growers during that time period (late 1800s) differ quite a bit in details. Of course, just scanning this forum makes it clear that there are many valid ways to get the job done.

Bob
 

AmaxB

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Oh it is not the defacto but gives a reasonable view in a short read. Now this forum is indeed a mine to be MINED for any who are truly serious with their intent.
 

Gmac

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Out of the tubs on the table, this batch is done, it goes back to the kiln for an over night balancing of moisture, and then off to storage and the family. Eight smokers (not counting me) equals 32 pounds a month lord help me.
This is good tobacco!
.
Hello Brent are you going to do a video on how to moisturize the stacked tobaccco in tubs, or could just tell us in a post?
Thanks,
Gmac
 

Gmac

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In post #150 this thread I pointed out there has been a change in the way my tobacco has held moisture due to the way I placed it in the tubs. I just went to check on it because it is time to remove it and bag it. It all looked OK moisture is a bit heavy but uniform. Very interesting for me, the top two or three leaves of the stack have gotten dark all most black in areas. But under those the leaves are about the same color as they were two weeks ago and this is true to the bottom of the stack. This is very interesting for me and causes me to question my method of leaf placement in the tubs, moisture, and temperature. In the past I have run a batch at mixed temperatures and steady temperature (I have run at 119F steady before) and have not had this result. I have run at different levels of moisture and have not had this result. The leaves have always been consistent in color throughout the batch.

Three things have changed in my method with this batch of tobacco 1) the way it was placed in the tubs. 2) I needed to mist less - due to less moisture loss. and 3) I did not need to rotate leaf position in the tubs throughout the process due to moisture loss.

It has been pointed out that maybe compression because of the leaves settling might be causing temperature change, and it was suggested I use probes to monitor this. I did just that way back in the beginning and saw no change within the tubs if compared to temperature of the kiln outside of the tubs the two were the same. Each tub has 10 to 13 pounds in it not enough to cause temperature climb. Also temperature at top and bottom of the kiln will very not more then 3F.

It has to be the way the tobacco was placed in the tubs causing the change in effect. I wonder if it will taste better when smoked. I removed about a pound of leaf and put it in the kiln to dry a bit for the shredder and will soon know, the rest of the tobacco is airing.
Will tell in next post....
Hello Brent, Do you open the boxes to off gas every day or what?
Thanks, Gmac
 
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