An Unlikely Cigarette

Readers might remember this pic:

2013-09-03 11.56.21

It is of a tobacco plant which somehow lodged itself in the gap between the paving and the house wall. Believe it or not, I actually harvested the leaves eventually! Anyway, I forgot about it and was surprised a couple of weeks ago to see that a few small leaves had survived through the winter.

Today, I noticed that there were three tiny leaves still hanging on the plant and which had turned brown, so I picked them. I rinsed them and dried them, and then I shredded them. There was just enough material to make a fag.

It was awful! The taste was acrid and bitter – a little like the effect that ensues when a lady walks past you in the pub on her way to the loo and her scent hits your conk just as you are about to take a swig of your pint. Umm …. Perhaps not such a good similitude. It is hard to provide an example. The acrid taste of a firework? Something like that on a small scale. Sufficient to say that, although the little leaves had turned brown, they had definitely not ‘fermented’. I had the same experience when I hung a leaf in the shed for months and waited for it to go brown. It didn’t, but I tried to smoke the resultant stuff, and it tasted much like this stuff. Thus we see, again, that it is insufficient for the leaves to have merely turned to a brown colour. They must also ferment in order to turn starches into sugars.

It would be wrong to compare fermentation of tobacco with fermentation of beer or wine. Beer and wine rely upon the activity of yeast, which is somewhat similar to a spore. It is not exactly a seed, but is similar. It can grow and divide and create new spores and, in doing so, can turn starches into sugars. That is roughly what happens in beers and wines.

In tobacco, the active ingredients are not yeasts. They are enzymes within the tobacco leaves. Given the right temperature and humidity, chemical changes occur within the leaves which turn starches into sugars and sweeten the taste of the tobacco. Of course, other flavours can be added, but the attractiveness of those flavours are a matter for each individual.

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Having tried to smoke this thing for about five minutes, I put it out. It was nasty.

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This little tale is significant because tomorrow I intend to start to germinate my home-produced seeds. It is the 4th of March and I think that the time is right with a view to planting out around mid May. In due course, as compared with the little experiment described above, I should be dealing with a reasonable amount of produce, and the produce will be fermented, as per the Junican/Rose process.

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9 Responses to “An Unlikely Cigarette”

  1. Dave Maughan Says:

    Hi (Sorry I’m not from Bolton…)

    I’ve experimented with toasting as a speedier alternative to fermenting (which I have to admit I haven’t tried to do yet) and found it makes the completely unsmokable become actually quite pleasant. I found some info here…http://fumo-bros-tobacco.com/how-to-process-whole-leaf-tobacco.html and following the details carefully, I’ve been impressed with the results. Just wondered if you’d tried this approach too…? I’d be interested to know how it compares with successfully fermented.

    I wonder also if you’re anywhere close to getting your home-grown (or already cured whole leaf, for that matter) to taste anything approaching Golden Virginia. Would be great if there was a ‘recipe’…

    Good luck with this year’s crop!

    Best wishes

    Dave

    • junican Says:

      Anyone can ‘join the club’, Dave! The ‘Bolton’ bit is more of a dedication than anything else.
      I haven’t read that idea before (putting into an oven and toasting). I’ve read the advice on your link and am somewhat confused. The link does not way whether the leaves have been yellowed or not. I assume that they must have been, otherwise all you would get is dry, green leaves.
      I take it that you have read my essay entitled “Growing, Curing, Flavouring, etc”? I am perfectly happy with the towelling method of yellowing the leaves, but I have never been happy that they have fermented at that stage. I know that if I wad them (as described in the essay), they will definitely be fermented. The trouble is that I think that I have been overdoing it! That is, fermenting them for too long. I have been getting a very dark brown (almost black) result and the smell coming from the stuff is sickly sweet. This next year, that is a problem which I’ll. be watching very carefully.

  2. harleyrider1978 Says:

    Fermentation of tobacco takes a year and shouldn’t be used until after the next years heat comes in as we call it here the JULY SWEAT on the baccy. Then its ready to smoke or chew. But it needs a good year of hanging before use. The sweet part is if left hanging in the barn Ive yet to ever see any go bad still on the stalk. But if moisture gets to it your screwed. Itll get the mold going and might as well pitch it then.

    • junican Says:

      Our problem in the UK, Harley, is the climate. It is far too damp to hang leaves, especially since the harvest only occurs mostly in the autumn. That’s why we need artificial ways.

      • Rose Says:

        Harley is right about leaving it for a year.

        But having been fermented in the propagator to brown then hung and completely dried in the last gasp of summer, it matures very well for a year loosely packed in a cardboard box and kept in a dry place.

        I’m still very pleased with the 2012 and wondering what two years of aging will do.

      • junican Says:

        I’ve tried my best! I’ve let the shredded and chopped tobacco rest for a couple of months before starting to use it. But I must admit that the longer it has been resting, the better it seems to be. As time has passed, when I open the containers, there seems to be less odour escaping.
        I’ll be observing as I go along.

  3. An Unlikely Cigarette | VapeHalla! | Scoop.it Says:

    […] Readers might remember this pic: It is of a tobacco plant which somehow lodged itself in the gap between the paving and the house wall. Believe it or not, I actually harvested the leaves eventually! Anyway, I forgot about it and was surprised a couple of weeks ago to see that a few small leaves had survived through the winter.Today, I noticed that there were three tiny leaves still hanging on the plant and which had turned brown, so I picked them. I rinsed them and dried them, and then I shredded them. There was just enough material to make a fag.  […]

  4. nisakiman Says:

    I remember years ago my first attempts at growing dope. The result, although it had the desired effect, tasted awful. It was so harsh it removed several layers of skin on the way down, and tasted, well, green. Thoroughly nasty. When I had another go some years later (I had a greenhouse by then), I did a little reading up on it, and followed the advice to harvest the crop and then just to lay it down on the greenhouse floor, cover it with black plastic bags and allow it to ‘sweat’ for a while before hanging it to dry. I can’t remember how long I left it to sweat, maybe a week(?), but the final result was a sweet and enjoyable smoke. Completely different from my first attempt. And it did the business, too! 🙂

    • junican Says:

      I’ve seen the idea of spreading the leaves out in the sun covered with blankets as a means of getting the heat to yellow and ferment them while keeping them moist; in other words, cooking them in their own juices.Trouble is – our climate.

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