A lot of useful details in that article. I'm now entering my fourth week of firing a batch of 72 primed Shirazi leaves in a can smoker (a 31 gallon galvanized trash can with holes in the bottom, set on top of a Brinkmann smoker). With modifications to the hanging supports, it could probably hold double that quantity, and still provide adequate spacing.
Just by accident, my firing regimen has been fairly close to the one described in the article. I've used varying combinations of split oak, apple wood, charcoal and bark-on maple branches. I've fired it at least once every day, often as many as three times a day for the past three weeks. My goal is a Latakia substitute.
The leaf was wilted and partly yellowed for two weeks before starting the firing. For the first two weeks, the Brinkmann contained a large pot of water between the fire and the trash can, and the temperature was allowed to go no higher than about 120ºF. Starting the third week, the water pot was removed, and the temps allowed to creep upward, sometimes above 150ºF. Each night, the hanging leaf goes into high case.
Right now, I'm planning to continue for a total of 4 weeks, maybe longer if the leaf is not dark enough. Presently (after 3 weeks) the leaf is a rich, deep brown, with very dark brown at the tips. My goal is as close to black as I dare get it. I'll post pictures and all the details when it's done.
When I was working on the farm (35 years ago), four of the neighbor's Buffalo got loose and were roaming around on a Metro Parks bike trail. Not wanting to risk anyone getting hurt, the Buffalo were shot. We worked day and night butchering those things, but the one thing I'll never forget was the Buffalo fillet mignon cooked over a wood fire. That tenderloin was life changing for me and I became an expert griller and smoker because of it. In my vast experience with smoking foods, I've come to realize there is an absolute no doubt best wood for smoking...the wood is Chestnut. It's only available from salvage in old buildings and an occasional leaner in the deep woods, but I promise you, it is the best by far.
I told BB to try to find some old barn beams around him (he's in the heart of Chestnut country) to use to cure his leaf. A couple of years ago, I rolled a friend a few cigars with some Lattaquea I smoke cured. He said he lit one up at a Toby Kieth concert and people were constantly asking were he got the cigars because they were the best smelling cigar they had ever smelled.
Fire Cured tobacco is just an over all description of a general curing process. The art of Fire Curing can be experienced with a tobacco known as Latakia...as you well know
I've tried to avoid posting identical info on both sites. This season, I'm mostly just answering questions on the HTGT site--still a lot of newbies there, as well as many good folks with experience. My grow log for 2012 is only on FTT, and any new and interesting info I stumble into is posted here as well.
I have about 50 (1500 lbs )rails of dark Fire / air hanging . The top leaves are dark to almost black . They are long , wide and gummy .I didn't have time to fire it . This tobacco is used either way fired or unfired . Its all in what you want for your taste .
Dark fire / air and one sucker will have a tinge of green through the leaf until it ages a little . Tobacco companies buy it knowing the green cast is in the leaves .
I believe Latakia is something that can be produced at home. It is so heavily fired, and for so long a period, that I suspect the variety of tobacco used becomes irrelevant.
I fired Shirazi a couple (or more) times a day, daily, for one month. It came out with a nice, smoky taste, but it was as black as Latakia only at the very margins of the leaves. Maybe a different physical arrangement would have allowed more of the leaf to blacken, but I think it just needed more time--much more time.
Because of weather considerations, and the need to be there and tend the fire intermittently all day long (OK if it goes out; not OK if it flares.), I have found, over two seasons, that I can complete one batch each autumn. That would be the period following harvest during which it's comfortable to sit out on my porch. If I ever had any hanging leaf left by the time spring comes, I could get in another batch.
Latakia, though, is likely to require a firing period in the range of 3 months. That's a lot of split wood, and a long time to expect neighbors to not politely inquire about the persistent smell of smoke. I'll have to say that I grew weary of it by the end of a month. (People at Walmart would turn to look at me after I had walked past. I guess I always smelled like a campfire that month.)
I have a question for those who use firewood to heat their homes . I used wood heat until a few years ago , there is no better heat than wood . It will get you warmer than electric or gas .
Why couldn't a T be put in the stove pipe and the wood heat and smoke be deverted to the tobacco . Like a barrel stove setting on top of a barrel stove . Top portion could be used for smoking the tobacco while heating your home .
I know when barns are fired the wood is directly below the tobacco and covered in saw dust . A little water is added every now and then to make it smoke and slow the burn .
That would surely work. The main problem would be regulating the temperature. Maybe as a flue circuit bypass (2 Ts), with a backdraft damper at both the top and the bottom for regulating the flow, and a barbecue grill thermometer mounted in the leaf firing chamber. You'd also have to be careful about the variety of wood. Another potential problem with using a heating stove is that the leaf chamber would represent a cold spot in the flue, and condense a lot of drippy black goo.