Two days ago, I said that I was going to build a ‘curing chamber/box’. I have been busy doing so. Here it is:

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Not bad for an amateur, Eh? It is 40″ high, 20″ long and 17″ wide. It is not quite finished. The lid needs hinges and so does the flap at the bottom of the front. Here is another pic:

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The leaves will hang on the cane. I intend to use paper clips to pierce through the main rib of the leaf, having un-bent the paper clip to make a hook. I have used that trick before, and it works. As you can see, I have included a window so that I can look inside, using a torch for light.

I bought a ‘slow cooker (aka crock pot)’ which is on the bottom of the box. I have poured some water in the pot, and it is that which provides both heat and humidity.

I have just checked the temperature inside the box and it has been rising and rising. At the moment, it is 34C.  I am wondering where the temp/humidity will naturally stabalise, if at all. If the temp continues to rise over the next couple of hours, then I will be happy because curing the leaves requires a gradual increase in temperature anyway. But I have a thermostat and a thermometer, both with probes, on order from Ebay which should arrive by Wednesday. I suppose that too much detail will confuse, so I’ll just say that the thermometer that I have ordered seems to have a facility to display the ‘wet’ temperature as well as the ‘dry’ temperature. By comparing the two, you can work out the level of humidity. The thermostat will allow me to switch off the crock pot automatically when a certain temperature inside the box is reached.

We will see……

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In the past, I have tried to do what needs to be done as cheaply as possible just to see whether or not it can be done at negligible cost, and it can. But there is a need to advance to get the best possible results and without it taking masses of time. If the box works, then I should be able to pick leaves as they ripen, rinse them to remove soil and detritus, and just pop them into the box. I’ll need to alter the thermostat settings ever few hours, but that is not a time-consuming activity. I already possessed the materials to build the box – sheets of white chipboard from an old wardrobe, screws, nails, tacks, etc, plus, of course, the power tools – drill, jig saw, electric screwdriver, etc. The biggest problem was being able to put it together on my own, but I managed to work out methods.

I have no intention of abandoning towelling and wadding. Only yesterday, did I discover an new event.

When leaves are towelled, they will yellow at different rates. Some parts of the leaves will go yellow, while other parts stay green. That is annoying. But what is even worse is that yellow leaves which are wadded also do the same thing – some parts of the leaves ‘ferment’ and other parts do not. But I have accidentally discovered a curious thing. It seems that, if you allow the partially fermented leaves to ‘rest’, that is, just take the wads out of the propagator, in their containers, and let them ‘rest’ in normal room temperature, they will continue to ‘chemically react’, even though they are cool. Thus, after a few hours, the leaves in the wads will brown evenly and to a pretty colour – more or less.

The important thing is that we are getting more and more knowledgeable, and more and more capable of producing quality stuff, with no additives whatsoever.

The temperature in the box at 1.15 am is 35C. It seems to be stabalising. The humidity is there, as testified by the fact that the window is misting up. At 2 am, I’ll switch it off anyway.

So I have used ‘reclaimed’ materials to build the box so that the materials have cost nothing. The ‘gummages’ are a cost. Taken together, the crock pot, the thermometer and the thermostat have cost me about £45 at most. That is about the price of seven packets of fags.

People might reasonably ask what the cost in energy (electricity bills) might be. That is a good point. Perhaps I’ll try to isolate the gummages by switching everything else off for a time so that only the gummages are consuming. It would not be difficult to do so. But there is perhaps no need to go to such extremes. Only the crock pot will consume anything gross – the thermometer etc will not. But they will replace the propagator’s consumption (which is small anyway). Even so, as a matter of knowing the facts, it is worth seeing how fast the circular thing on the electric meter rotates when only the crock pot is switched on.

 

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I’ll leave it for now. Growing baccy plants is a hobby. It is not intended to be ‘commercial’.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “”

  1. j Says:

    Great job!! I do not think that the crock pot uses appreciably more electricity than the propagator would have – the stoneware inside, once heated, will be easy enough to regulate so that the heat remains constant. I’m hoping!!
    Regarding the wadding – I saw a video on the internet where a guy doing flue curing – once the leaves were cured – put them into a press for fermentation. He originally had them in the press for a number of days, but then found out that he only needed to do this for about an hour – that once the fermentation process started, the leaves no longer needed to be under pressure for the process to continue. So perhaps similar to your observation about the wadding. I certainly have found that, if left for a period of time, the wadded leaves become paper thin – is this not more for pipe tobacco????

    • junican Says:

      Hi j.
      Sorry, I somehow missed your comment – wordpress has been playing up.
      Yes, wadding seems to go too far, or not far enough. I’ve been experimenting with it over the last few days by subjecting the wads to a much higher temperature by placing the container directly onto the floor of the propagator, but for a much shorter time. The good news is that I get a more even colour change, but the leaves still sweat very much and the leaves become very thin.
      the new ‘curing chamber’ is now in use – see latest post.

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