Whole Leaf Tobacco

How I sun cure

Jitterbugdude

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A few years ago I came up with the idea of kilning tobacco in containers. Since I had a very large supply of tobacco built up I decided to dismantle my large kiln and just use my small little bee box kiln with a few containers, just to kiln a little tobacco from any new variety that I grew. What I forgot was that the big kiln would have been nice to use as a flue cure chamber. Hence I turned to sun curing.

I made this little hoop house last year. Notice the blue tarp. Last year my tobacco stayed really moist. I suspected a lot of ground moisture was contributing to the problem so this year I added the tarp.
hoop house.jpg


I pounded stakes on each corner to prevent the wind from blowing it over
tie down.jpg

I prime my leaf and let it hang till it is mostly yellow then I hang it in the hoop house.
DSC01967.jpg

I leave the tobacco exposed during the day to facilitate drying but at night I cover it up to prevent moisture.
covered.jpg

The finished product
sun cured vbl.jpg

This works out pretty good for my wife's cigarettes. She typically likes 40% flue cured and 60% burley. The sun cured Brightleaf has probably about 1/2 the sugars that a flue cured leaf does so I make cigarettes out of this. 100% sun cured is close to a 40/60 mix.

For my pipe tobacco this method leaves a lot to be desired. I like real flue cured in my pipe blends. I think next year I might have to build a small flue curing chamber.
 

Tutu

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Very sophisticated, it looks brilliant. Nice pictures as well. I don't know a whole lot about sun curing but this sure looks nice!
 

deluxestogie

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In considering sun-curing Virginia leaf, I believe one significant limitation is that, unlike most sun-cured Oriental leaf, Virginia is much thicker. The impact of greater thickness is that sunlight is not able to penetrate the leaves (to illuminate adjacent leaf) nearly as well as with thin Orientals. In traditional Oriental growing areas, the leaf is strung snugly onto strings, yet the sun manages to penetrate to all the leaf. I believe this decreased light penetration prolongs the leaf drying phase, allowing more of the sugars to be lost.

Also, Virginia seems to be more hygroscopic than most Orientals I've sun-cured. This would also delay leaf drying, if the ambient humidity is not low enough.

If there were a way to lay the fully yellowed leaf flat, in a single layer, it might remedy the thickness problem. But I can't imagine how to do that for any more than a trivial quantity of leaf.

Supplemental heat would take care of both issues, but then we're talking about a flue-cure chamber of some sort. [I designed my kiln really as just a kiln--wood frame, 2" XPS walls, a circulation fan and a Crockpot with a separate digital controller. But by stepping the heat along a flue-cure curve, it works well as a flue-cure chamber. And it doesn't even have a vent.]

Bob
 

davek14

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So... if you let leaf yellow... then quick dry... it will be something like flue cured? And the quicker the drying, the more like flue cured?

"This works out pretty good for my wife's cigarettes. She typically likes 40% flue cured and 60% burley. The sun cured Brightleaf has probably about 1/2 the sugars that a flue cured leaf does so I make cigarettes out of this. 100% sun cured is close to a 40/60 mix."

That makes it sound like a spectrum.

If so, it seems I could cobble up a little bit of something to mix with my Burley since I use a pretty small amount of Bright Leaf. A box with a heater and no thermostat might work.

Can you do this with any strain? I have Yellow Twist Bud and Burley going right now.

What about aging after? Is it needed?
 

ChinaVoodoo

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So... if you let leaf yellow... then quick dry... it will be something like flue cured? And the quicker the drying, the more like flue cured?

"This works out pretty good for my wife's cigarettes. She typically likes 40% flue cured and 60% burley. The sun cured Brightleaf has probably about 1/2 the sugars that a flue cured leaf does so I make cigarettes out of this. 100% sun cured is close to a 40/60 mix."

That makes it sound like a spectrum.

If so, it seems I could cobble up a little bit of something to mix with my Burley since I use a pretty small amount of Bright Leaf. A box with a heater and no thermostat might work.

Can you do this with any strain? I have Yellow Twist Bud and Burley going right now.

What about aging after? Is it needed?
Last year I tried flue curing a small amount in my kiln instead of the usual, heating of my entire shed. It didn't work and the leaves mostly turned brown because, (I think) they were touching each other and therefore too high of humidity. After kilning, it tasted good.... more like air cured, but not quite.
 
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leverhead

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I can't find the picture, it may be somewhere in the forum. As I remember it, a bamboo frame with netting/chicken wire holding rather large leaves in the sun.
 

Jitterbugdude

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If there were a way to lay the fully yellowed leaf flat, in a single layer, it might remedy the thickness problem. But I can't imagine how to do that for any more than a trivial quantity of leaf.
Did that too. I layed a bunch of leaf onto the ground and some onto a blue tarp. I ended making sun cured cavendish
 

deluxestogie

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The fickle sun! A flue-cure barn/shed/chamber sounds like the way to go. If only they still made barns out of logs.

Bob
 

ChinaVoodoo

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I can't find the picture, it may be somewhere in the forum. As I remember it, a bamboo frame with netting/chicken wire holding rather large leaves in the sun.
I think it was in Istanbulin's thread on sun curing in China. I looked, and the photos are missing. They stood them up, angled towards the sun, right? I looked for other photos, and found some really good shots of rajangan making, and learned that they spread it out in very thin layers. But, yeah, the trend seems to be to keep them off the ground with a bit of airflow.
 

Tutu

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That is right. Those were Kasturi farmers sun curing their crop. You can find photos of it at post #6 in this thread.
They are not making Cavendish, no, although I suppose it could be used for Cavendish.
What they do use for Cavendish in Indonesia is Lombok Flue Cured.
 

deluxestogie

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That seems extreme. Two or three acres, plus cutting down a bamboo forest, for curing the leaf of a couple of hundred plants.

Bob
 

Libsk8r1

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Bamboo is a very invasive insane weed it’s a type of large grass that has such dense roots if natural predators like pandas and other animals aren’t present it spreads vigorously and I mean like black berries vigorously
 
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