Last Year's Backyard Virginias

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canucklehead

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Aug 1, 2018
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Air cured Virginia i grew a couple plants of last year, ribbon cut, cased with vanilla extract (small amount of PG and alcohol), brown sugar, and water. Mixed 70/30 with some chopped up homegrown Va/bur plug that tasted like smoking "a half a pack of cheap cigs and burning oregano" according to a note I had made. Stoved for a while at 200°, sprayed down with more of the vanilla/sugar casing, and stoved for a while longer. Pressed into a small puck/plug for a week or so. Just cut it open and sliced into thick flakes to dry before jarring. Will report on how it tastes in a few days after it dries down a bit then is jarred for a while.

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mso489

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Feb 21, 2013
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I hope your blend is completely pleasing and eases any anxiety about tobacco regs. Even if it isn't, you have gotten the hang of growing and processing leaf, so you are in the driver's seat. Just don't sell any and excite the law. Looks quite nice.
 
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canucklehead

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Aug 1, 2018
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I hope your blend is completely pleasing and eases any anxiety about tobacco regs. Even if it isn't, you have gotten the hang of growing and processing leaf, so you are in the driver's seat. Just don't sell any and excite the law. Looks quite nice.
Thanks! I'm expecting it to taste a little "raw" still, to be honest. I should have let it sit for another year or three before doing something with it, aging improves everything (except my lower back and knees).
 

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mso489

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Feb 21, 2013
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I'd have to try it now, but then, unless it is super good, I'd just jar it up and give it that three years and see what happens. Meanwhile you can do the next harvest or plant the next crop.
 
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brian64

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Jan 31, 2011
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Very impressive looking. You are to be commended for the effort. Will be interested to hear how it smokes.
 
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davek

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Mar 20, 2014
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Did you kiln it?

If you are relying on aging instead, stoving at 200 will kill most enzymes which cause that type of aging.
 
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canucklehead

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Aug 1, 2018
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Did you kiln it?

If you are relying on aging instead, stoving at 200 will kill most enzymes which cause that type of aging.
No, it was just air cured in my shed with the burleys I grew, stored loosely packed in a box indoors over the winter. I haven't built any kind of kilning apparatus yet. I only grew a couple Virginia plants last year. This year it's nothing but burley because my cat destroyed all my Virginia and Oriental seedlings.

The "stoving" at 200° was mostly arbitrary, but I have done similar with some burleys before with ok results. I had limited time use of the oven when my wife was out lol.

I have very limited knowledge of enzymes and their role in tobacco aging, but from what I remember from biology class enzymes rapidly denature at anything approaching about 100° or thereabouts?
 

davek

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Mar 20, 2014
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Burley takes at least a year aging if you don't kiln. Two is better.

Here's some good stuff

"Ammonia is created within the leaf during oxidation of the leaf's proteins. If there is no oxidation, then there is no ammonia produced. The oxidation is not caused by microbes or air, but by two oxidase enzymesstill present within the leaf after the lamina have died. Both require moisture to function in breaking down albuminous proteins and carbohydrates. One of the enzymes is destroyed if the leaf reaches 141°F, so is lacking in flue-cured leaf after it has been flue-cured. The more heat-stable enzyme survives and functions up to about 191°F. This second oxidase enzyme operates much more slowly than the first, but it is what permits flue-cured leaf to very slowly age. Once leaf has been heated above 191°F, it can no longer age. So toasted leaf and Cavendish or otherwise boiled or steamed leaf no longer has the ability to age in the sense that we understand tobacco aging.

"Sweating" is an imprecise term with many meanings. "Fermentation", likewise offers its own confusions. Both of them refer to conditions that allow the process of oxidation discussed in the previous paragraph. The leaf must have some moisture (is not completely dry), and must be at a temperature of about 60°F or higher. Since the oxidation reaction is temperature dependent, the higher the temp, the more rapidly the reaction runs (up to the point that the enzyme itself is cooked or denatured).

Cured leaf that is hanging in a humid shed or tobacco barn while temperatures rise (as in the springtime) will resume enzymatic oxidation. The rate of that oxidation tends to cycle with the ambient temperature. Once most of the proteins and carbs have been oxidized (incidentally releasing ammonia radicals from certain proteins), the rate slows dramatically, though it can continue for years at a snail's pace.

Cured leaf that is closely packed within bales or into piles (pilones) acts as its own insulation, so that the slight, chemical heat generated by the oxidation is trapped, increasing the oxidation rate and thereby generating even more heat. So baled or piled tobacco can warm itself (even to the point of starting a smoldering fire, if the conditions are just right). When this happens in bales, simply separating the individual bales with a slight air space will often be enough to slow or halt the process. When this occurs during intentional "fermentation" piles, the temperature is allowed to reach a previously decided max temp, at which the pile is broken down and reassembled, and the process started over again.

"Aging" of tobacco refers to exactly the same chemical process of oxidation. Once most of the work of oxidation has been completed, "aging" appears as a subtle, gradual process. But it's the very same thing happening (at a slower rate) as happens with "sweating" and "fermentation".

We often say things like "burley is not fermented," and "cigar leaf is always fermented." The only real difference is that most cigar varieties require a lot more oxidation to tame the proteins and carbohydrates, when compared to burley or other non-cigar varieties. "Fermenting" non-cigar varieties does not cause them to smell or taste like cigar varieties. Those distinct characteristics are inherent within the specific tobacco varieties.

Kilning
A kiln allows you to achieve the moisture and temperature conditions required for optimal oxidation rates. It's not dependent on bailing or creating 5000 pound piles, or waiting for the weather to be just right. The kiln enforces the humidity, and enforces the desired temperature. It's the same as "sweating" or "fermentation" or "aging". Once the leaf has mostly oxidized its proteins and carbohydrates, all that remains to be accomplished is a "resting" and "airing" period (days to weeks) in order to allow the newly created ammonia that is still dissolved within the moisture of the leaf lamina to dissipate into the air. Allowing the leaf to completely dry (go out of case) can speed this process of ammonia evaporation. The leaf, of course, needs to be brought back into low case prior to handling.

If kilned or "sweated" or "fermented" or "aged" tobacco has an ammonia smell, it means that additional oxidation has taken place."

 
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lawdawg

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Aug 25, 2016
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Looks great! I like thinking about black market home-made flakes and the like if all the pipe tobacco businesses eventually go off the market. Of course, contraband blends from Asia are probably more likely to be common in such a scenario. Regardless, I love seeing people's home blends. Looking forward to a report on how it smokes.
 
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