Why Press Tobacco???

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mojoe

Junior Member
Jan 6, 2015
89
0
Kansas City
Came across a couple vids yesterday showing tobacco being placed into a PVC tube, and then being compressed for a length of time to create a cake. What is the main purpose behind this process?
Thanks

joe

 

mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
4,205
410
Do you mean why press into cakes at all or why use a PVC tube?
I was always under the impression it fuses the flavours of the leaves together to create a more harmonious flavour. I'm sure someone who knows more than me will chime in though.

 

saltedplug

Preferred Member
Jul 24, 2016
1,908
6
Plugs were made for convenience and portability; just put them in a pocket. Hard-pressed plug like Salty Dogs and Condor are created with such fierce, sustained pressure that the cell walls rupture, thus blending flavors in a way that loose tobacco cannot. Yet if you age loose tobacco you will find that the flavors meld, which makes me think of co-valent bonding. Flake tobacco is sliced plug.
All tobacco is organic. From the living leaf comes the cured, manipulated and blended, that because once alive continues to degrade, or ferment. Pressure increases the rate of that degradation and is prized by blenders for flavors it otherwise would not have had early in its blended life.

 

npod

Preferred Member
Jun 11, 2017
2,843
417
American pipers are always trying to recreate plugs and cakes and pressed techniques here in the states. The Europeans have perfected it. We tend to not have the equipment, thus these types of technique videos show up.

 

kola

Preferred Member
Apr 1, 2014
595
4
I don't think pressing tobacco is rocket science. There's lots of easy ways to squeeze the stuff, hydraulically, mechanically or just by banging it into a tube with a hammer and capping it off. I think the end results depends more on how much time it remains pressed. And quite possibly the amount of exact pressure applied could come into play. OTOH I'm just spouting opinion.
I wish all tobaccos were pressed and sliced in flakes or plugs. And I also wish they'd outlaw that dreaded shag cut (aka rats nest)
I have a juice machine with a hand press. I wrap my tobacco in wax paper and press it until she won't go anymore. I'll leave it pressed and check on it until it stays firm..or longer sometimes.

 

davek

Senior Member
Mar 20, 2014
338
39
I mellow whole leaf Burley by lightly stoving (170f for 1 hour) and pressing. The pressing seems to be an important part of the mellowing. I mix a bit of Bright Leaf in as well and the pressing marries it quickly too. (a shotgun wedding)
An easy way to press whole leaf is to get it in high case and roll it tightly into little "cigars:. Really kind of like a short rope. Then put one in each end of a ziplock and press with c-clamps and plates or by just piling cinderblocks onto it. Slices into hard little coins.
I've been known to make a little crumble cake by moistening shredded tobacco, putting it in the corner of a ziplock, then putting my heel in it and standing the full weight of my body on my heel for a minute.
I think pressing really does change the flavor for the better.

 

weezell

Preferred Member
Oct 12, 2011
9,819
1,956
I've heard of "Pheasant" under glass as a dining delight. Now we see an example of "Pleasant" under glass. Best served HOT!!! :D


 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
3
Is there anything to be gained by pressing (or would it be re-pressing?) already broken flake such as MacBaren Golden Extra?
I assume flake is just a slice taken out of a pressed cake of tobacco.
What about pressing a ribbon cut such as Carter Hall?

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,455
1,111
Yes, plugs are made from whole leaf, done early in tobacco processing. When you press already prepared tobacco it makes a cake, or as Simon and Dan (of SToP) have named it the "chug" for very tightly pressing cut tobaccos.
I think that the idea is more to slow the burning process, making it denser, thus burning slower or at a higher temperature if pushed too hard. But, by slowing the rate of smoldering, you get more of the nicotine and flavors from a slower smoke and a more homogeneous tobacco. But, for the most part it doesn't change the tastes dramatically.
Also, try slicing a cake or "chug." you don't get very good slices most of the time, and it sort of crumbles apart as you pack it. I am all for getting new and different smoking experiences, but I just haven't had one of these that has impressed me. And, I do have a 10 ton hydraulic press. I also have a friend in my pipe club who makes a sort of fruit roll up thing where he presses his tobacco absolutely flat between wax papers. It's not very.. aesthetically appealing, especially since he uses aromatics. So it is literally like a fruit roll up.
But, as always playing with your tobacco is a lot of fun. So, do it. Try for yourself. My favorite thread for pressing is the one where the forum member tried parking his truck on his tobacco.

 

kola

Preferred Member
Apr 1, 2014
595
4
Good points, Comic, thats probably the main reason why I prefer flakes and plugs and I didn't even realize it. Increased denisity, slower burner rate.
Thats why ya have to pack the shit out of shag and ribboon cuts to make up for it. Otherwise it flash-burns up like confetti.

 

briarbuck

Preferred Member
Nov 24, 2015
752
158
I have created my own little press that I made and have used quite a bit:

The biggest C-clamp I could find. Bigger = better

8" of 2" PVC.

A hockey puck

3" kiln dried dowel that fits tight inside the PVC.

4 Hose clamps (keeps pvc from failing)

Parchment paper
I put the parchment paper inside the PVC as a lining. Fill the tube with tobaccy and use the puck as a base. Stick the dowel in the top and squish. I re-squish every day until it won't move. It's pretty well set after a week.
Pretty easy to make. I have combined various Virginians with a burley or perique with good results. The final product is much more unified and consistent. I also have had good results re-hydrating classics and then pressing them with = parts of the newer versions.
I do believe I am getting enough pressure to rupture the cellular walls. It's not a crumble cake anymore.

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
3
So Cosmic says pressing does not change the taste dramatically...anyone else agree? Disagree?
As much fun as it may be to try,I'd like to get some idea of what to expect. I smoke almost exclusively burley.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,455
1,111
As much fun as it may be to try,I'd like to get some idea of what to expect.
Oh come on, where's your sense of adventure. Just do it! But, mostly you are just changing the rate that the tobacco burns, which could or not affect the flavors in a noticeable way.
The problem here is which burley you are going to press? Burley doesn't have much in the way of a natural sugar in the leaf to make it stick together after pressing, so you'll want to use one that has some casing or else add a light honey and water mist to the leaf before pressing.

 

901blends

New member
Apr 23, 2018
24
0
Pressing is a way for a home blender to speed the marriage of the flavors.
Sometimes a home blend is a "salad" of tobaccos where they stay independent and good that way.
Other times you want might want the flavors to mingle more and a good press can do that.
Most of the home presses I see though are really bad and the users ratchet the ribbons until they bleed. They put plug pressure on making crumble kake. It's like they are making tobacco juice instead of crumble kake.
Why do they do it? Because it's fun! Anyone can make a crumble kake. Your inner engineer might want to figure it out.