Whole Leaf Tobacco

jParnell's Adventures in Gourmet Artisanal Spittin' Dip

jParnell

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This is my extraneous process for making dip. This is the method that I use. Where possible, I will try to recommend alternatives. There are links where you can find most of the ingredients that may not be obvious, but none are affiliate links.

This first post will be edited as my methods update, and I'll reply to the forum where updates are available.

If any of my information is wrong, or you have suggestions to make it better, by all means, please speak out.

Other posts that lead me to this process:
A special thanks to the following people for getting me this far:

@squeezyjohn for his homemade snus recipe that I used as a starting point for mine https://fairtradetobacco.com/threads/squeezyjohns-homemade-snus-recipe-and-method.5778
@Copenhagen Forever for his It'S Gold post and process at https://fairtradetobacco.com/threads/its-gold.7083/post-129714
@Jitterbugdude for his process on flavoring and insight on the benefits of adding glycerin https://fairtradetobacco.com/threads/a-few-homemade-dip-questions-from-a-noob.8574/post-157515
@tullius for his process on getting a strong nic hit https://fairtradetobacco.com/threads/a-few-homemade-dip-questions-from-a-noob.8574/post-161693
@manstrom for his OCONUS IFED process. This took creativity and redneck engineering to heights never seen before (and as a fellow Georgian and vet, I mean that with the highest praise in mind) https://fairtradetobacco.com/threads/improvised-field-expedent-dip-oconus.8956
@deluxestogie for his wisdom and insight into all things tobacco (not just in smokeless, but in cigars and cigarette tobaccos as well)

And many, many others in this community that have taken me this far. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all.


This recipe will make approximately 1 can of dip. I will include a formula at the end so you can adjust your measurements to scale with however much you want to produce.

Changelog
2020-08-19 : 1612 ET: Initial post

Preparation
  1. Purchase whole leaf tobacco. In these initial trials, I used a 50:50 blend of Dark Fire Cured Wrapper and Burley at 1/4 lb each for a total of 1/2 lb of tobacco.
  2. Shred tobacco (stems and all). I have a cigarette shredder that I use that turns them into 1mm x 6mm strips.
  3. Dry out your tobacco. As dry as possible. The best method I've discovered for fully air drying tobacco without contamination from the environment is to get a container that is clear, put your tobacco in it, cover it with a non-airtight covering, and set it out in the sun for about 8 hours, shaking/mixing every 2 hours. The key is that you want maximum surface area revealed on the top. I've found a couple methods that work really well:
    • In mason jars, take the lid ring (without the lid), place a coffee filter over the jar mouth, screw on the lid ring.
    • In a clear plastic or glass container (for, say, cereal, flour, etc), take a cheese cloth and rubber band it over the top.
    • On baking sheets, spread as thin as possible, place a cheesecloth over it and weight down the corners and edges with something so the wind doesn't take it away.
    • Alternatively, you can bake it in the oven for mere minutes on low, low heat. 150-200 seems to be ok, but more than a couple minutes at a time will drastically change the flavor, for better or worse.
  4. Remove un-shredded clumps of stem and place in separate dish/baking pans. These tend to hold more moisture than the leaf's lamina. It needs to be dried completely as well.
  5. Allow shredded tobacco and stems to fully dry out in the sun, mixing every couple hours, until it's completely dry and uniform. If you can do this indoors with a window to avoid outdoor contamination (pollen, insects, dust, wind, etc) do so, but the power of the sun is truly magnificent for this.
  6. *** OPTIONAL ***Please note, when I do this, I use a tobacco shredder made for cigarettes that shreds the tobacco into 1mm x 6mm strips. This is too large for dip (for me personally) so I do the following:
    1. Shred the tobacco with the shredder
    2. Sun dry
    3. Run the dried tobacco through the shredder again
    4. Use a coffee grinder on course at it's max fill line for 3-5 short quarter-second bursts
    5. This results in a fine tobacco flour that, when cooked, will result in a similar grain and consistency somewhere between Copenhagen and Grizzly Wide Cut
  7. Gather your other ingredients:
    1. Distilled water
    2. Kosher salt
    3. Glycerin
      • You can frequently find this at your local pharmacy, though it's usually more expensive (~$7 for 4 oz is what I paid for mine). Don't get anything that isn't Food Grade labeled.
    4. Propylene Glycol
      • Again, go for food grade labeling
    5. Sodium Carbonate
      • You can purchase sodium carbonate from the link above, otherwise known as Soda Ash, Washing Soda, Disodium Carbonate, Calcined Soda, Carbonic Acid Disodium Salt, Solvay Soda, and 497-19-8, individually or you can make your own from Baking Soda.
      • To make it, you simply take Baking Soda, aka Sodium Bicarbonate, in a baking sheet spread as thin as possible and bake it in your oven for 1 hour at 200°F. A little goes a long way, so you don't need much.
    6. Potential flavorings and additives
      • If you use natural flavoring (i.e., licorice root, cinnamon sticks, anything from the spice cabinet, etc), you want to add these before cooking.
      • If you're using a man-made flavoring (i.e., LorAnn oils or similar), you want to add this after cooking.
  8. Gather your other equipment:
    1. Something to apply heat
      • Sous Vide cooker
      • Hot plate and pot of water
      • Crock pot
    2. Mason jars with the 2 part lids
    3. Kitchen scale (preferably that does decimals in the hundredths)
  9. Cook it! (see below)
Cooking
  1. Add water to and pre-heat your method of cooking.
    • There are several methods of cooking. I happen to use a Sous Vide cooker, as it's easy to set up, maintains an even temperature, has a dedicated timer, and I can monitor mine with my phone (plus, I already had one but don't have a crock pot). See links at the beginning of the post for other peoples' methods. I cannot attest to them, as I have not used them. All my instructions will rely on a Sous Vide.
    • Do not exceed 185°F (85°C)
      • Tobacco will cook faster at higher temps, but tends to break down more and lose it's natural tobacco flavor. If you're a fan of Natural-labled flavors, such as Grizzly Natural, cook at lower temperatures.
      • Times and temps vary depending on the type of tobacco and the outcome you're looking for. At 185°F (85°C), you need only 24 hours, but at 130°F (55°C) it can take up to a week.
    • The water level should go higher than your tobacco once submerged, but only barely.
      • One of the negatives to a water bath cook is preventing your jars from floating. Here are ways to overcome this:
        • Usually, a decent Canning Jar Vacuum system (such as the Food Saver Mason Jar Sealer kits) work wonders, but the only ones I can find right now are cheap and not really effective.
        • I have since started vacuum sealing heavy objects with a Food Saver and their heat-sealed vacuum pouches and placing them in the tobacco itself (only tobacco touches the glass, for even cooking). My 1-2-3 block that I use for my table saw works great, until I need to use it on my table saw.
        • Alternatively, if you have anything heavy and made of glass, you can place it in your jars as well
        • Once I got a small suction cup off a stuffed animal and JB-Welded a piece of twine to the center of the bottom of the jar and tied that twine around the suction cup, and attached it to the bottom of my pot. I left about a quarter inch of twine so the jar could float while attached to the twine.
        • If you want to get really fancy, you could seal your mason jar in a vacuum chamber and vacuum seal it that way
          View: https://youtu.be/Vv0ECOX0JSM
  2. Place 15 grams of tobacco flour in a mason jar.
    *** SIDE NOTE ***
    One of the important aspects of this is knowing how much tobacco to put in a jar. While this isn't concrete, my rule of thumb is to have the tobacco come about 1/3rd of the way up to the jar. After adding everything else, it should be at the jar's halfway line. Much more than that, and it gets difficult to stir.
  3. In another container, get your distilled water hot. It doesn't need to be boiling, but it does need to be hot enough to dissolve all of the salt. Add 20 ml of water in a microwave-safe container and microwave it for 30 seconds.
  4. Add 2.7 grams of Kosher salt to your hot distilled water. Mix until all salt is dissolved completely.
    • Kosher salt is specified because of it's lack of contaminates.
    • Iodized salt will give your dip a funny taste.
    • Sea salt or Himalayan salt has other impurities.
    • While any salt that's safe to eat can be used, your experience may vary based on the type of salt you use.
  5. *** OPTIONAL *** Add your natural flavorings to the saltwater solution and mix well. I have not experimented with any of this.
  6. Pour your saltwater solution into the mason jar with your tobacco flour. Fluff with a fork. Seal with a mason jar lid. A gentle tightening is only needed - if it's too tight, it will become pressurized by the increased heat and the air will not be able to escape (mason jars work like one-way valves - air is allowed out, but not back in. Tightening too much will not allow the air out).
  7. *** NOTE *** At this point, with the combined water, salt, and tobacco flour, you should have about 35 grams in weight (more if you added natural flavorings). A can of Grizzly is 34.02 grams.
  8. Cook at your desired temperature and time
    • I cook mine at 185°F (85°C) for 24 hours
    • Every 3-6 hours, I remove my jar(s) from heat, remove the lids, and thoroughly mix with a fork so that everything is cooked more evenly.
    • You really cant go too wrong here, though I will say it needs to be a minimum of about 8 hours at 185°F. Experiment with this process (this is why the instructions have very, very small increments with the ingredients, so you can test, play, and see what you like best).
    • You will know your tobacco is done when it has reach a rich, dark chocolate brown, similar to used dark roast coffee.
  9. Have patience.
Chemical Reactions
  1. After your cook, remove your jar from heat and let it sit about 15 minutes to cool off a bit. Use canning tongs, heavy rubber gloves, a stick, anything, just remember those jars will be hot.
  2. Add 1.05 grams of sodium carbonate to the jar, and mix with a fork thoroughly. If your scale doesn't do decimals that far down, 1 gram should sufficient, but err on the higher side.
    • There is room for customization here to adjust to your preferences. The average commercial dip uses 7 grams per 100 grams of tobacco flour. At 15 grams of flour, this is 1.05 grams of sodium carbonate.
    • To get a stronger nicotine absorption in your mouth, increase the amount. To get a weaker nicotine absorption, decrease.
    • You can go as high as 10 grams per 100 grams of flour (1.5 grams in our recipe) or as low as 5 grams per 100 grams of flour (0.5 grams in our recipe), but it is not recommended to exceed that. The more you use, the more it can sting your lips and gums.
  3. Add 2 ml of glycerin - my understanding is that glycerin acts as a clumping agent, allowing the tobacco to clump together nicely when packed. Be careful with the amount used - it can make your dip taste sweeter, but with an odd aftertaste if you use too much.
  4. Add 1 ml of propylene glycol (PG) - PG acts as a humectant. It helps prevent mold from forming and allows the tobacco to stay moist longer. I can verify that my dip will last almost 6 weeks uncovered in a refrigerator before it starts drying out. Careful here as well, because too much can leave an odd, synthetic aftertaste.
  5. *** OPTIONAL ***Add your artificial flavorings to the jar. A little goes a long way.
    • There is a LOT of room to play here.
    • I used LorAnn oils, specifically the Green Apple and the Wintergreen. Wintergreen only required 3.5 ml, whereas Green Apple required about 5ml.
    • Each oil you use will have different concentrations on flavor. I use the Super Concentrated branded oils, but they also have less-concentrated lines that will require more liquid to get the same flavor punch.
    • When you experiment, start small and keep adding. You can always add more, but it's much harder to take any away.
  6. Mix all well and cover with the mason jar's ring and a coffee filter (use ONLY the ring part of the lid, not the actual lid itself. Take your coffee filter, put it over the jar's mouth, then screw on the ring over the mouth).
Aging
  1. You can try a pinch right now. It'll probably taste awful because of the chemical reactions happening with the sodium carbonate, but you can do it.
    Adding the Sodium Carbonate causes a chemical reaction that will result in the tobacco off-gassing ammonia. If you tried a pinch at this stage, it probably tasted pretty bitter. It usually takes a couple weeks, depending on how much sodium carbonate you added, before this off-gassing ceases. This is why you want to use a coffee filter instead of the regular mason jar lid - it allows the ammonia to circulate, not staying in the jar where it can affect the flavor. Ideally, you'd want this to be in a commercial refrigerator with plenty of fresh air circulation, but I've found a normal home fridge works just as well. Steps 4 and 5 helps keep fresh air within the jar.
  2. Cover jars with a coffee filter and the ring portion of the lid. Use a sharpie to write pertinent information on the jar (date, tobacco blend, flavor, etc)
  3. Place in fridge. I keep mine in the vegetable crisper with other important staples, such as beer, other tobaccos I need refrigerated, and leftover burritos.
  4. Each day, take your jar out and give it a good shake to mix everything up.
  5. After 3 - 5 days, try a pinch
  6. Repeat steps 2 - 5 until the taste doesn't change anymore. I've found it typically takes my recipe about 2 weeks for the 15 grams. It takes somewhere between 2-3 weeks for 60 grams (my biggest batch to date).
Scaling Up Your Production

My recipe and the amount of ingredients depends on the 15 grams of tobacco as the base for the calculations that you use everywhere else. So here's what you need to do to find the ratio for all the other ingredients:

Tobacco: Use your desired amount (denoted with T).
Water: 1.25 * T = water in ml
Salt: 0.18 * T = salt in grams
Glycerin: 0.13 * T = Glycerin in ml
Propylene Glycol: 0.067 * T = PG in ml
Flavoring: This is a little different, as it's different with each flavor. The flavoring will be marked with F. Replace F with whatever your recipe calls for:
(F ÷ 15) * T = flavoring in ml​

Examples:

Let's say you want to make 120 grams (~8 cans of dip).

Tobacco: 120 grams
Water: 1.25 * 120 = 150 ml
Salt: 0.18 * 120 = 21.6 g
Glycerin: 0.13 * 120 = 15.6 ml
PG: 0.067 * 120 = 8.04 ml
Flavoring (assumes 3.5 ml used for 15g tobacco): (3.5 ÷ 15) * 120 = 28 ml

If there is any interest, I will write a small application that you can run on your computer or an Android (sorry, no iPhone, I cant afford the dev license).

All feedback is very welcome :)
 
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jParnell

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Thanks, Bob. My goal was to make it as seamless and idiot-proof. Even with all the great information available in this forum, it still took a lot of referencing from numerous posts and recipes from several of the members. Nothing I've done here is unique in any way except perhaps what I'm using to flavor the dip.

Flavor-wise I like it a lot. It has a deep flavor that tastes, to me, like a good, high quality dip should.

My only complaint is that it doesn't seem to clump very well when you take a pinch. It seems to want to come apart in your lip over time. I'm hoping someone with more experience might be able to weigh in on how to correct that.
 

tullius

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First of all, good post. Great detail and record.

When you say it doesn't clump very well, what is the commercial marque you'd say that does clump well? Ask this because there's a pretty wide range of commercially available particle sizes.

I eventually liked the finest grind I could get commercially here (copenhagen fine cut), because the coarser grinds allowed me to stuff a quarter of the can in my lip in one stout bump, and this was too abrading for my taste. For that reason, I make my own dip now more fine, like snus. I dry mine too and use a food processor and a couple of sieves. Mine clumps fine for me (makes a good pris) if I get the "grind" and the moisture content right.

You may want a different grind or moisture level (more moisture) to get what you want, and do think those are the two things to try varying.
 

jParnell

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First of all, good post. Great detail and record.
Much obliged, thank you.

When you say it doesn't clump very well, what is the commercial marque you'd say that does clump well? Ask this because there's a pretty wide range of commercially available particle sizes.
My preferred dip for years has always been Grizzly Wintergreen Long Cut, though I also enjoy the same flavor in Wide Cut. Prior to my current method of shred, dry, re-shred, and coffee grinder, I did the same but without the coffee grinder. It resulted in a really course, fairly large cut (about the the size of a raw quinoa). My running theory was that as the tobacco cooked, it absorbed the saline solution and grew in size, and that there simply was not enough cohesion in the granules to keep them together.

To compensate, I adopted my current method, allowing the same amount of water to penetrate more thoroughly on more granules. It improved, but not quite far enough. However, this morning I got to really looking at Grizzly, and I'm seeing a fairly wide variation in their tobacco. It's not at all uniform, with some being smaller than mine, most being about the same, and some appearing to be full strips between 0.5 and 2.5 mm in length, like you'd find in a cigarette.

This leads me to believe that it might not be only moisture and grain size that could be the ticket, but rather a blend of multiple grain sizes. I could do single shred, double shred, and course grind in a ratio. Right off the top of my head, I'm thinking a 1:3:5 ratio by weight would be a good starting point.

And then there's obviously the playing with moisture levels. I don't want to add any more PG or VG as I did a quick-n-dirty experiment with slightly-too-long-in-the-open dry dip I made and it negatively affected the flavor, but it's possible I could be losing some water in the form steam through the mason jars, so I can try to increase the distilled water in the cook itself to compensate. I was planning on playing around with the saline concentration anyway, but I think I want to get my consistency perfect before I start playing with flavor.

I eventually liked the finest grind I could get commercially here (copenhagen fine cut), because the coarser grinds allowed me to stuff a quarter of the can in my lip in one stout bump, and this was too abrading for my taste. For that reason, I make my own dip now more fine, like snus. I dry mine too and use a food processor and a couple of sieves. Mine clumps fine for me (makes a good pris) if I get the "grind" and the moisture content right.
This is exactly what I'm trying to avoid o_O I have never enjoyed any fine cut, but copenhagen fine cut least of all. With any amount of jaw movement, the tobacco tends to unpack and you spend an hour spitting out individual granules of tobacco. That's the experience I have right now, even though my cut isn't near as fine as copenhagen fine cut.

One other change that I have made on my current batch is after the initial aging process with the coffee filter, I vacuum sealed the finished product in a Food Saver bag, giving it compression. I plan to leave it compressed for an additional two weeks in the refrigerator before trying it again. The hopes is that once compressed, the moisture and flavors will permeate the tobacco more thoroughly and result in a more rich and satisfying experience.

I know I've only been doing this for about 2 months and that true perfection could take years, but I already feel like I'm so close I can taste it :cool:
 

tullius

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Grizz wintergreen long cut is a pretty long cut to me. I've never had the wide cut.

My dad used to do some work at the swisher sweet factory in West Virginia: they also made side chew as well as snuff there. I remembered him telling us stories about the tobacco dust all over the plant from the grinding operations, so I called him to ask if they used burr grinders or what for the snuff. He said he never worked on the snuff side, only the long chew side, and never saw the grinders. I would have guessed they used some type of continuously discharging burr grinder, but now have no reason to definitively say so.

Burr grinders, at least for coffee, produce a much more uniform grind because the processed material exits the burrs more quickly and doesn't tend to get re-processed. Blade coffee grinders (and food processors like I'm using for my dip) whip the material around with whirlybird blades and some material tends to get re-processed several times because it's captive to the system, while other material escapes this, producing a much wider variation in granule size.

In short I'm not much help here, other than having made very fine dip/almost snus at home before. My dried processed leaf for snuff is really a tobacco flour before hydration.

Would concur with the tobacco grains growing after hydration, and can recommend vacuum sealing. I don't add any PG or VG, so cannot comment there. Guess what I'm saying is that I would start fiddling with the hydration levels if I were you?

Hope that helps? :oops:
 

jParnell

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I think between the playing with moisture content and the cut variation, I may be able to figure this out. My current running theory is that the the smallest granules will hold the most water:weight ratio, and will have high cohesion. The single shred granules will be longer, but have a higher surface area:weight ratio and should have decent cohesion, along with being able to intertwine with each other. I'm hoping this "tangled up" tobacco will assist in the clumping. And the double-shred-but-not-grinded granules will be able to adhere to both thanks to their cohesion and the tangles.

I think this weekend I'm going to get about 3 batches going at once:

1.) Same water, variated cut
2.) More water, same cut
3.) More water, variated cut

The only problem with experimenting is the amount of time it takes between trials. It's a 2 week minimum from start to finish, and that's without the pressure aging like I'm trying with my current batch.
 

tullius

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Hey, quick note on the sodium carbonate: cook temp should be 250-300 deg F. I use 300.

Might also be worth noting to store sodium carbonate vacuum sealed if possible, or tightly closed in a screw top jar: it's hygroscopic and will revert back to baking soda if it absorbs enough water from the air. EDIT **Makes me wonder what exactly happens when the sodium carbonate is added to wet tobacco??**

Don't shoot the messenger, and feel free to delete :)
 

deluxestogie

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In water, the sodium dissociates from the carbonate, forming ions. What you get, when combined with the water, is 1 carbonic acid molecule (dissolved in the water) and 2 sodium hydroxide molecules (also dissolved in the water). Sodium hydroxide is is alkaline, and there is more of it that carbonic acid. So you end up with a lye solution, when you mix Na2CO3 into the wet tobacco.

Bob

EDIT: when you heat sodium bicarbonate in the oven, you drive off oxygen and CO2.
 

tullius

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I knew it worked by the effects, but the chemistry how there is above my pay grade. Thanks Bob.

So then is it actually air and not water that causes baking powder and sodium carbonate to become much less effective if they're left unsealed over time?
 

deluxestogie

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Depending on the physical form of sodium carbonate, it may absorb or release water. That's a crystallization thing that I don't understand. I'm honestly not sure if exposure to air just alters it from anhydrous form to a hydrated form, leaving it less reactive, but not changing it to sodium bicarbonate, or if you end up with sodium bicarbonate. I'd have to pull out some of my dusty old books to figure it out.

Bob
 

plantdude

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Excellent post @jParnell. I've used sodium carbonate in the past for some of my quick attempts at chew. I noticed in @GreenDragon beer perique thread he tried both baking soda (can't remember if he tried sodium carbonate off the top of my head) and sodium hydroxide to drive the pH of his beer perique basic and he seemed to favor the NaOH for taste - I know that's not chewing tobacco, but it made me wonder...
I've never heard of anyone trying NaOH in chew before. Just curious if you or others have ever heard of NaOH being used in chew or have tried it.
 

deluxestogie

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NaOH (lye) is nasty stuff to handle (it's Draino). Na2CO3 (sodium carbonate) is a gentler--still quite potent--way to release NaOH into the wet tobacco. It's still plenty strong enough to eat up aluminum and any other exposed, reactive metal container or utensil. That's why you have to use stainless steel, ceramic or glass for the procedure. That's also why it can eat away the plating of a Mason jar lid.

Bob
 

plantdude

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I'm noticing it's listed in one of the patents, of course so is potassium hydroxide... Probably very dilute. Ok I suppose not worth the risk of playing with at home if a good starting concentration isn't known

 
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