Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Steaming.

A busy evening. Caught up with some Emails although there are more waiting, and heard from Lulu.com that the ebook of 'Ghosthunting' isn't getting past their conversion filters. I'll have to fiddle with it and try again. It's because it's written as a manual so it has subheadings. Novels and short story books don't have those. Apparently subheadings mess up the contents page. This doesn't affect the print version.

I've also spent a fair bit of time processing some leaves. I lost all the ones in the greenhouse to mould. It was too windy here to have the roof vent open and even though temperature and humidity were perfect, without air circulation the mould took hold. High humidity, warmth and no circulation means mould can spread very, very fast. All those are now in the compost.

Fortunately that was only half the leaves. The rest were in the garage and remained mould-free but humidity in there was too low. Some dried too fast despite regular misting and are still green. Roughly half of the garage stock was okay but all of it was too dry.

I've steamed all the leaves and re-hung the too-green ones. They might still work, they might not, but it costs nothing to try. If they refuse to change colour I will use them in an attempt to produce nicotine juice for Electrofag. They won't go to waste. If the Righteous succeed in banning Electrofag (oh, they haven't given up yet!) then I'll need a way to keep mine in action.

The nicely browned ones are now rolled up into cigar-sized wads. Still a bit on the rough side for smoking. They need to ferment a bit and age. This evening produced 42 grams of smokeable baccy and I have about the same still hanging up in the garage. That 42g would cost somewhere around a tenner at UK shop prices so even if it is a bit rough and even if it's all I get, I've broken even on the experiment. More than break-even if I include the leaves in jars with brandy/cherry brandy flavouring and the ones I 'tested' - and way more than break-even when I consider this year's first-ever experience of smoking the flowers (thanks to Rose for that one). If there are any Electrofag juice producers reading, that flavour would be a winner.

So this experiment was a success in that it ended up costing nothing. I'll look forward to the flowers next year and start collecting earlier. A whole rollup of flowers is too much but sprinkle some dried and chopped ones into the rollup and it's like smoking a summer meadow.

Seeds - I have enough to cover Scotland in tobacco plants. I already have the buckets and trays from this year so next year's cost is only compost. And I have until then to set up for a better drying method. .

Correct drying would save a lot of lost leaves and a lot of bother. Steaming overdried leaves doesn't half stink out your kitchen. I used an old pot and an old bamboo thing that was for steaming those pancakes you get with crispy duck. It's never been used for its intended purpose and is now designated as 'tobacco steamer'. They don't need much steam, just enough to give them a thin-leather consistency. Don't cook them!

It would have been better if they hadn't needed steaming at all, but this is all experimental and there were bound to be cock-ups on the first try.

Next year I'll know which disasters to avoid!

13 comments:

Frank Davis said...

Back in my day, 30 or 40 years ago, it wasn't tobacco we were growing, but cannabis.

I grew 20 or 30 cannabis plants on the roof of the place where I lived (it had a valley gutter in the middle), and a great success they were too - except when I forgot to water them, and dropped half their leaves -. I gave most of the dried leaves away. They were like champagne.

How times change. Now everybody seems to be growing tobacco!

Leg-iron said...

Best get in practice now before it's illegal.

That has to happen, sooner or later. They aren't demanding plants though. Every conservatory should have one ;)

Frank Davis said...

Can you grow them in a window?

I've got a basil plant still happily growing in my window.

Leg-iron said...

It depends on the size of pot they're in. I had buckets full of compost standing in cat-litter-trays with water in them - the anti-slug moat. Mine hit six feet high.

If they were in, say, nine-inch pots, their growth would be stunted but they would still have leaves. Not so big, and not so many, but some.

So yes, you could grow them in a window if you restrict their growing space.

They're nondescript plants with a load of flowers on the top. None of that easily-spotted cannabis leaf.

Anonymous said...

Funnily enough, I know what tobacco plants look like. I had some ornamental ones in a conservatory when I was in Devon. The flowers were like white trumpets, sort of. The leaves were big and fleshy and rounded.

I tried smoking a dried leaf until Rose told me that the ornamentals were poisonous or something.

Frank Davis said...

That was me, above.

Leg-iron said...

The flowers on mine were pink. Taking Rose's advice, I picked them when they showed lilac streaks and dried the green parts for smoking.

Very nice they were too.

I don't think the ornamentals produce nicotine. All you'll get is the bad parts.

George Speller said...

LI's experience similar to mine - I got a lot of mould - I hung them too long, I think. Anyway - the remainder have been rolled up with rum and wrapped in foil. All together a straightforward learning curve. Just have to wait and see what I get from the processed ones.

Ed P said...

The previous owner of my house grew his own tobacco and, from the traces (leaves & support strings), cured it in the loft. It's probably the ideal place - not too hot in the Autumn and the CW tank ensures the humidity is not too low.

Woodsy42 said...

I cured mine, with reasonable success, by threading leaves on thin wire and hanging it across the top of a large sunny garage window with the 'trickle vents' open.
Found a shredder - it's designed for other 'herbs' so rather too small - but it works.
Biggest problem is when rolled it won't stay alight, so I'm on a 50/50 mix with commercial stuff at the moment.
Unexpectedly the home grown tastes milder.

Leg-iron said...

EdP - the modern insulated loft is bloody cold!

George Speller - it wasn't about time it was circulation of air. Let those damn spores settle and they've got you in a day. Too long for me ended up as too dry.

Woodsy42 - I have the Firebox garlic chopper which was great for a few flowerheads but would take a long time to make more than a couple of smokes. A wheely thing with tiny blades you'd probably get arrested for looking at these days.

My homegrown is still rough but the flowers will blow your head off. Pity they've stopped.

Anonymous said...

Frank

I remember that. Trouble is there are so many plants that go under the name of Tobacco, you can never be sure if they are suitable for smoking and it sounded like some kind of perennial.

I have completed a year growing tobacco in the way Buffalo Bird Woman described, adjusted to the British climate with a January start indoors until mid May.

No artificial curing, it just cures and dries on the stalk in the summer sun.
Tastes mild, a little like Pueblo and emminently smokable without further treatment.

Just harvest them in the morning when they are moist and press them flat between two sheets of kitchen roll under a heavy book.

There may be an inch or so of midrib still not dried out at harvest, laid in a sunny window inside, that soon dries out to a thin stick.

I would very much appreciate it if other growers would test the method on a couple of their plants next year.

It's all very well to say I did it, but in needs to be easily replicable.


Rose

Junican said...

Damn it, Leg Iron! Have you not been reading Bolton Smokers Club blog? Damn it! I have been going through the curing stuff with a fine tooth comb for the last couple of months!

Oh ye of little faith!

At this moment, I am smoking one of my 'Junicans'. It is made of half commercial tobacco and half my own. The reason that I am making them in this way is because commercial tobacco is deliberately made to be very mild in flavour because, along time ago, market research showed Tobacco Cos that people preferred a milder taste. My homemade stuff is strong in flavour, so by mixing the two I get a pleasant medium flavour.
There is a fast way to cure tobacco. By 'cure', I mean get the starches to turn into sugars. As far as I can see, that is what 'curing' is. I let my cured leaves (they turn dark brown) dry out thoroughly so that the crumble. I put sufficient of my tobacco into a plastic container and add a small amount of apple peel in a gauze pouch. I leave the sealed container overnight. The peel moistens the tobacco just nice and sweetens the tobacco - but it does not taste of apple, it is just sweetened.

I picked green leaves a month ago and now I am smoking the produce. What could be better?

Google 'Bolton Smokers Club' and see for yourself! I intend to summarise my finds shortly.

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