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First Kiln: Questions on temp and humidity

Mico

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Finally decided to turn the broken mini fridge I found into my first tobacco kiln. I followed the advice of some of you, and inserted a crockpot with a temperature controller and a fan.

I think I've read most if not all information about kilning in the forum, but I found some divergence of opinions about temp and humidity. So far, the temp is set from 123 to 128F. And the humidity (by adding water to the crockpot) can reach the 90s, and go back to 80s if a vent for a little bit.

Is this a the best setup? It's been running for two weeks so far without mold. Bright is getting darker (one variety really dark). I don't know how it is supposed to smell or taste at this point so I can't tell. I really don't want to overcook or spoil the tobacco.
 

Alpine

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Temperature and humidity are fine.
After the first two or three weeks of kilning the ammonia smell begins to dissipate (some strains sooner, some later. Rusticas are a world apart). It is normal for air cured bright leaf to turn a little darker. Give your leaves another couple of weeks in the kiln, then take them out and let the tobacco “rest” for another couple of weeks before smoking it (if you can resist the curiosity!).
Burleys and cigar leaf may require a little longer to become perfect.

pier
 

Mico

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I've noticed that if I lower the max temperature by 1°, there is not much smell in the room. Any thoughts on that?
 

Mico

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Micro managing a refridge kiln to a degree ? Just saying. You must have it tuned in and in a controlled invironment.
My question is if there is risk of overcooking the tobacco at 128, since there may be warmer spots in the kiln (i don't know), and if it is safer at 127. Or otherwise, it won't ferment nicely at lower temperature.
 

Knucklehead

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My question is if there is risk of overcooking the tobacco at 128, since there may be warmer spots in the kiln (i don't know), and if it is safer at 127. Or otherwise, it won't ferment nicely at lower temperature.
deluxestogie's post #429:
 

deluxestogie

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If the probe for your temperature controller is not located near the upper kiln center, with good air circulation within the kiln, then specific temp settings are meaningless. The duration of kilning beyond 8 weeks seems to not yield much additional fermentation, but also is never cooking the tobacco (which would destroy enzymes). I have noticed that above about 135° F, the taste of the tobacco is altered toward a Maillard reaction kind of toastiness. [I have "Cavendish cooked" some leaf within the kiln, when a portion of the bag shifted position, and maintained direct contact with the ceramic of the Crockpot.]

Bob
 

Mico

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How long do you think is enough for bright leaf?

It is in the middle of week 4. I've sampled some virginias and: they are darker, the aroma is sweeter, but they remain acidic and the taste is still very similar.

Aire cured, on the other side, has already improved a lot in smoking qualities and flavor.
 

BrotherJ

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From what I understand, flue-cured leaves don't respond so much to kilning because the main oxidizing enzymes were cooked apart in the curing process. Air-cured leaves should benefit most from the kilning. There are other things you could try to help them calm down (e.g. toasting), but that would change the character of the smoke. The best option is probably to kiln them for a couple extra weeks and then let them rest for a few months.
 

BrotherJ

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The tobacco is now smelling like sweet cookies or cake. Is it supposed to smell like this or the aroma will change more?
That's normal and it's a good sign. The smoking quality is improving. The characteristic smell and taste it has now will continue to change and eventually disappear if you continue kilning. I might suggest you remove some of it now and continue kilning the rest (maybe remove some every week). Others have suggested letting it rest for a few weeks after kilning to get the best results. That's probably a good idea too.
 
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