Whole Leaf Tobacco

Making Latakia at Home

GreenDragon

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Dang it Bob! Why do you put these ideas in my mind?????

I am a little disappointed in my first batch. It just doesn't have that super deep bass smokey note of the Cyprian variety. So I decided that since I have a freshly chopped up Christmas tree, I'd give it another go. I think of all the woods I've used Oak is the strongest, so I will concentrate my wood with that, with some X-mas tree, Juniper, and other minor adjuncts.

Since I have a fresh pound each of Katerini and Prilep I'll use a mix of these for this batch. Before each smoking session I'll wet down the leaf with a 50/50 mix of gin and water (the gin I'm using is blue - It's not Windex!). The water bath contains Oak chips and a piece of Tears of Chios. It also serves as a hydrating stage for the oak chips.

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deluxestogie

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My Trabzon Latakia went into my kiln for 8 weeks. Early on, the house smelled like I had an open fireplace. Over the past two weeks (that is, weeks 7 and 8 in the kiln), the campfire aroma seemed to wane, and was replaced by a sweeter, more spicy, incense aroma.

I removed it from the kiln today, after thoroughly drying it in the kiln. I've moved it to a roomier poly-nylon bag, and misted it to begin its rehydration. The aroma is not that of Cyprus Latakia, but it is much closer than the aroma from my first attempt (which utilized charcoal, oak and maple and other American hardwoods).

I'll sample it once it has rehydrated and rested a bit. But I believe the kilning made a substantial difference in dissipating the more volatile wood fire aroma, while leaving the exotic compounds from the other firing materials.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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SUBMITTING A SAMPLE OF YOUR HOME-FIRED LATAKIA

Submissions will be due in the late spring of 2020. As that time approaches, @Jitterbugdude will provide further instructions and deadlines.

In the mean time, download this one-page submission form (.pdf) and print out one copy for each batch that you attempt. This will allow you to document the firing ingredients, etc. One completed form will need to be submitted with each Latakia batch. (Most of you--like me--will have only one batch. Some have made multiple batches.)

FTT Latakia Trials Submission Form.

Fill out the form by hand, but please make it legible. Given the infinite possible variations on the process, you may need to write on the back of the form to include whatever info you believe will clarify your techniques. The goal here is not to dazzle or befuddle, but to allow us all to make sense of what works in firing-Latakia, and what may not work as well.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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I used home-grown Trabzon for my Latakia trial. It had been sun-cured prior to firing. Kilning (8 weeks), followed by about 1 month of rest. Kilning and rest significantly reduced the raw "fire-cured" aroma. But it still had a noticeable, subtle campfire aroma.

Since there is no point in smoking any Latakia straight--it's always just too potent, I decided to give it a try in a blend already known to me, and one that I enjoy. For the basis of this blend, I used my recipe for Pearl of Shibam, substituting home-fired Latakia for the usual Cyprus Latakia. It was initially not to my liking. After the shredded blend rested as a blend for about 1 week, the campfire aroma receded further, and ultimately offered a Latakia pouch aroma of incense. My expectation is that the aroma merging that occurs within a blend will continue to improve this with more time.

My conclusion is that my Trabzon Latakia is much closer than my first Latakia attempt (which used American hardwoods). If I were to make another attempt, which I'm not about to undertake, I would increase the proportion of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) used for a primary wood source, and significantly reduce the White Pine. [White Pine is much friendlier to handle than the finger-pricking branches of the Eastern Red Cedar.]

Sailing to Trabzon
  • Home-fired Latakia 25% (~4 parts per 16)
  • Lemon Virginia 31% (~5 parts per 16)
  • Perique 19% (~3 parts per 16)
  • Basma 25% (~4 parts per 16)
Download 3½" label as high-res pdf.

I decided to place this blend here, rather than in my main thread on pipe blending, since this one is for you courageous folks who gave this tedious and smoky project a try.

Don't forget to download the submission form from my 1 JAN 2020 post, and fill it out while you can still remember details. Of course, you must submit your Latakia as whole leaf, unblended.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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Today I smoked the final bowl of a batch of Just Walking Home, a complex blend that used Fire-cured Shirazi. The Shirazi was fire-cured many years ago, maybe 8 or 9. I still have a slab of it, and it shouts, "campfire", when I sniff in its bag. The Just Walking Home blend was mixed up in April of 2019, so it's been sitting, blended, occasionally smoked, for 10 months.



Today's bowl was the first time that the "campfire" aroma was not obvious. So, just age didn't dissipate the campfire smell after many years, but resting as a blend slowly minimized it.

I think this might be worth considering, when testing your home-fired Latakia. Blend up some of your blend of choice, then tuck it away for a month or two.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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Three Zebras

Another one for the home-fired Latakia club.


Well...three zebra butts, at least.

You can't exactly make this, unless you happened to grow TrabZon as the basis for making your home-fired Latakia. But you can make a similar blend with whatever Oriental variety you chose, so long as you have some of it just sun-cured, and also make Cavendish with some of it. I'm not sure how it would turn out with components made from non-Oriental varieties.

As a background, all of my TrabZon was sun-cured. Some of the sun-cured leaf was home-fired with my magical brew of smoke ingredients. Some of the sun-cured leaf was cooked into Cavendish. And the remainder of the sun-cured leaf was kilned for 2 months. All of the components were shredded to a similar size, blended, then rested for a week, before lighting up any of the blend.

There is no question that I still have a subtle, background "campfire" aroma in there somewhere, but it is quite subdued. What is really exciting is that, unlike any of my previous home-fired leaf of any sort, I find the blend soft, enjoyable. It doesn't shout, "food!", or "Kentucky!" And it leaves a Latakia-like aroma in the room, as well as in my mouth. I could best describe this as an incense sweetness, with a cedary, clove-like tingle.



It's so close. As I've stated before, if the firing wood contained more cedar, and less pine, I think it would ring truer to the goal.

Three Zebras
  • TrabZon Latakia 25%
  • TrabZon Sun-cured (kilned) 25%
  • TrabZon Sun-cured Cavendish 50%
Download Three Zebras 3½" high-res label as a pdf.

Bob
 

Bigdog

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Just a quick thought for those of you that, like me, has a bit of curiosity about latakia, but not enough to buy some and sure as hell not enough to build a rig. I have a lot of golden Virginia leaf and mostly I make cigarettes, but I do have some LD02 tobacco that I bought about three years ago for the occasional cigar and I mix it with my cigarette tobacco for a bit of a spice(5%). A while ago I started to smoke some of the LD02 in my Weber like barbecue after I had a cookout and I have not the foggiest idea if it is anything like latakia, but it sure ads wonderful flavour to my cigarette blend. All I do is take 3 or 4 stripped leaves wet them with a good spray of clean water and when I am finished cooking I scrape all the coals to one side, put a handful of wet pear tree woodchips on the coals, put the leaves as far away from the coals as I can and close the lid. Alow enough airflow to keep the coals going slowly. The next morning I carefully take the crispy dry leaves and hydrate them to the desired level, run them through the shreder and store them for about 3 months, this takes care of the slightly chemical smell and I am left with a wonderful deep smoke aroma. I am sure any fruit, nut or non toxic woodchips will work.
 

deluxestogie

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What you are describing, @Bigdog, is lightly fire-cured tobacco, that I assume also has some barbecue, food flavor. I'm sure it is yummy. Every firing material imparts unique flavors and aromas. Traditional fire-curing requires about 3 weeks of exposure to smoldering wood smoke.

Latakia is quite different.

Bob
 

fimbrew

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Throw some Patchouli in there and you are half way there. Hmm, I am tempted to try curing with Garam Marsala.
 

deluxestogie

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Latakia Trials Submission Date

After discussing this with @Jitterbugdude, we have agreed to postpone your home-fired Latakia submissions until late August. As August approaches, we will re-evaluate that date, depending on the course of the health situation and the risks associated with parcels converging from widely scattered locations.

This postponement also allows any other members who may be interested in attempting to make home-fired Latakia enough time to do a run or two.

In case you have not yet documented your firing materials, here is the form for that:

FTT Latakia Trials Submission Form.

Bob
 
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