Tobacco Query

I still haven’t harvested my tobacco, and more and more of the lower leaves are drooping and turning gold/yellow. I’ve been too busy, one way and another.

A few weeks back, when a couple of the plants reached the top of the windows they’re growing in, I cut off the tops of them, and set them aside to dry. The leaves were all green when I cut them, and they remained green as they dried. But after they’d been very slowly drying for a week or more, and the leaves had become limp, I noticed that the leaves had become slightly sticky to the touch. And then, remembering that the thing to do to ferment the leaves was to wrap them up into bundles, and tie them with string, I took several of the leaves and rolled them into cylinders. Rather to my surprise, they needed no string, because they were mostly sticky enough to adhere together without any further assistance.

I didn’t do anything with the rolled up leaves. I left them on top of a chest of drawers, drying along with other open leaves. They must’ve been drying for a week or so now, and looking at them closely, they show signs of turning a much darker brown that the other dried leaves.

I stuck a few of my golden leaves and my rolled-up leaves on the scanner. The colours are pretty accurate (click on image to enlarge):

Now, my question is: are those rolled up leaves fermenting? And what do I do with them next?

About Frank Davis

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4 Responses to Tobacco Query

  1. Lord Galleywood says:

    They always taste better after leaving them to mature for a year in the shed – Trust me, that proper bacca smell will make you smile.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      In kentucky we call that hanging thru the ”JULY SWEAT”……….it means all the sugars in the fermented tobacco has had time to age properly. If youve ever walked past a burley curing barn about a month after you hang it,the amonia smell will drive ya batty! But 3 weeks after that its roses…….Unless you smoke cure your baccy,thats where you really get flavored tobacco! Im not up to snuff on smoke cured/ fire cured tobacco but this time of year the smell is so good and its all across this area! Love it

  2. junican says:

    Harley speaks of ‘the July sweat’. ‘Sweat’ is the operative word. In my own limited experience, when the leaves sweat, they glisten and become sticky.

    In my towelling method of yellowing leaves, some of the leaves often turn very dark brown (if not black) in parts and become sticky and wet and shiny. I would describe that as ‘sweating’. Others do not. Wadding them (whether they have sweated or not), and keeping them in a warm, sealed container for a couple of days, seems to cause all the leaves to sweat.

    Your picture suggests that you have rolled each leaf up individually. Have you tried unrolling one to see how it smells and how sticky it is?

    Can I suggest something? (Up to you whether you try it or not!)

    1. Unroll, say, six leaves and flatten them out.
    2. If they are dry, moisten each leaf a little. If you do not have a mister, then you could pour a little water onto the surface and spread it out over the leaf with your fingers. Just enough to dampen the surface.
    3. Lay the leaves on top of each other.
    4. Fold the sides in and the top edge and bottom edge in. Roll the leaves up.
    5. Tie the wad up. I think the reason is to ensure that little produce of the chemical reactions which take place can escape.
    6. Put the wad into a sealable container and seal it. Moisture from the leaves will evaporate, but will stay within the container and keep everything warm and moist.
    7. Put the container onto a warm surface such as a radiator. As a stop-gap measure, you could fill a pop bottle with hot water and wrap the container and the bottle in a bath towel. Check after a couple of hours and replace the hot water if it cools. (It does not matter if the water cools (for example, overnight). If the chemical reaction stops when the water cools, it will start again when you refill the bottle)
    8. After 24 hours, open the container. Is there condensation on the inside of the lid? Open up the wad. Are the leaves sticking together? Do they feel sticky? Do they have a sweetish smell? If they do, then they are fermenting. You could then give them another 24 hours. Roll them up again, but with the inside on the outside and vice versa. Spray the outside of the wad, or dip in water. Replace in container and repeat operation.

    Separate the leaves and put them on a tray so that they can dry out. If the leaves are stuck together, it can be tricky to separate them, but it does not matter much since you are going to shred them anyway. If they get very dry, that does not matter either since you can re-moisten them.

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