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Tobacco Curing Guide - The Easy Way!
Here at TobaccoPlants.co.uk we've been working hard to get to the bottom of this issue. We've looked right back through the development of cured tobacco, and to the discovery of tobacco curing to bring you the answer. When tobacco first started to be distributed around the World it was first cut and partially dried in the very fields in which it grew. Once its colours had changed to hues of yellow, orange and bronze it was bound into large bails ready for export. These bails would then be loaded onto ships where they would spend several weeks, stacked high in the warm, humid hull of a ship. It was found that by the time the tobacco reached its destination it would have lost its rancid taste and smell, and would in fact smell sweet, and smoke like the fine tobaccos we are accustomed to today.
By looking at this somewhat accidental process we have perfected a technique by which anyone can achieve the same results at home, with nothing more than the equipment that you might find in any household or in local shops. So here's our Advanced Tobacco Home Curing Guide, step by step:
What you’ll need:1. Your harvested and dried tobacco leaves.2. A slow cooker.3. A timer plug (optional).4. A sharp knife.5. 2 sheets of strong ply wood approximately 2ft square.6. A “C” clamp or stack of bricks (or something very heavy).7. A mist spray bottle.8. A jar of honey (or other preferred flavours).9. Some glycerine (available from many baking shops or chemists).What to do:1. Once your plants are fully harvested, and dried take your leaves and cut out the central spine with a sharp knife or pair of scissors.2. Mist both sides of the leaves with warm tap water, after a few minutes the leaves will become pliable allowing you to flatten them out.3. Create a stack of leaves around 1/2 an inch thick.4. Place your stack of leaves between 2 pieces of strong plywood.5. You now need to compress the leaves between the wood, this can be done by placing the stack in a clamp and tightening gradually, or using very heavy weights such as a large stack of bricks.6. After 2 days you will find that most of the excess moister has been squeezed out and you are left with a solid slab of compressed tobacco.7. Use a sharp knife to cut the block into cubes of around 1/4" square.8. Take your tobacco cubes and place them in your slow cooker and set to its lowest setting or around 50 degrees Celsius. Your tobacco will need to cure for around 2 weeks, being turned and stirred daily. If your tobacco starts to look dry simply mist with a little water. It will be noted that your tobacco will have an acrid smell at first (if you have an unused room or a shed with power it is best to make use of it) which will lessen as the cure progresses; this is the curing process at work. Once the end of the curing process is reached the tobacco will have a sweet smell, so we know it's ready. To save electricity it is a good idea to use a timer plug that will allow you to automatically turn the slow cooker off for 10 minutes every 20 minutes or so. This will maintain a good curing temperature yet save 1/3rd of the power bill.
Casing Your Tobacco:
Once your tobacco is cured you'll want to store it to give it the longest life possible. To do this we have found that the best method is to use glycerine. Glycerine is a sweet tasting, colourless, low toxicity liquid that is used in baking, cosmetics, painting, and in preventing horses’ hooves from drying out - amongst many other uses. It is derived from fats and oils, those obtained from vegetables would be best for our use. All of the applications of glycerine are with the aim of preventing something from drying too quickly, whether it is horses’ hooves, our skin, icing or paint, and for our application it is no different.1. Create a solution of 3 parts hot water, 2 parts honey and 1 part glycerine. At this stage it is possible to add a whole range of flavours to your blend.2. Lay your tobacco out on a tray and using a paint brush apply the mixture evenly across all surfaces.3. Leave the casing solution to dry for a few days before storing the tobacco in bags or a tin in which it can breathe a little.If you've not yet ordered your tobacco plants it is now time to do so. We only pot on enough plants to fulfil our orders, and the team is now busy in the greenhouse getting this year’s plants going.
Using this method your tobacco should last for years. When you are ready to smoke it, simply take a cube and slice thin strands from the block before fluffing it up ready to roll.
Here’s to a great tobacco growing season!