I have been thinking about the ‘main rib catastrophe’.
Let me just define terms.
The main rib is pretty obviously the centre rib of a tobacco leaf. In a fully developed leaf, the main rib is substantial.
The rest of the leaf is known as ‘the lamina’, and includes the minor ribs which run across the leaves.
The catastrophe is that it would be a shame to throw away a substantial portion of the leaf, and yet, the main rib is a nuisance. It helps to squash it with a rolling pin, which removes a lot of the moisture, but it is still a nuisance. It is a nuisance during towelling and a nuisance during wadding.
What should be done?
I had an idea. Here is a pic of a main rib taken from a cured leaf:
You can see from the ruler (30cm) that it has shrunk a lot during curing. It is dry and hard, but pliable. I intend to dry it out totally when it will become very hard and brittle. I shall then break it up into small pieces and pop the pieces into my daughter’s coffee bean grinder, which will reduce it to little granules. The importance of doing that is to remove sharp bits which can rip tubes and minimise the size of hard lumps which can block tubes.
But look again at the pic. What are you seeing? Is it not essentially a TWIG? The thought occurred to me, “Why am I trying to ‘ferment’ twigs?”
My new plan, then, for this next year, is not to try to ferment the main ribs. I shall cut them out and let them dry out completely. They still have a certain amount of nicotine within them. The nicotine content does not depend upon the curing process, which only effects the taste of the tobacco.
Thus, a big nuisance has been removed. I shall cut out the main ribs and ferment the lamina by towelling and wadding. I’ll force the main ribs to dry out completely, probably by putting them on the fireplace for a few days (it works), but I suppose a sunny window ledge will do, or even microwaving. There is no time pressure, so just let them dry!
Another technical advance….