The Curing Box – a Disaster?

Perhaps the word ‘disaster’ is an exaggeration, but it has not been going well today. When I removed the lid of the box and checked the leaves for dryness, I touched/felt the leaves near the top. Little did I know that, near the tip, closest to the crock pot, they had dried out a lot, and dried out green in many cases. Here is a pic:

[Damnation! WordPress is getting worse and worse – Click ‘Add Media’ and nothing happens]

2014-08-21 00.57.36

Ah well…. Perhaps my blog has been sabotaged…… Wow! After publishing, I was permitted to ‘edit’ and add the pic.

What the pic showed was some leaves which had become yellower but had still green parts. That is ok normally, since some parts go yellow before others.  But there were also brown parts, and the brown parts were just as brown as my ‘towelled and wadded’ leaves.

The above was my comment before the pic was available. The pic indicates the problems. The leaf on the right has resulted from towelling and wadding. The very brown part of the leaf from the box is almost exactly the same colour – dark brown. Is that a result of our ‘carboniferous’ soil? It might well be. The variety of tobacco plant known as ‘Virginia’ produces the best results when it is grown in ‘poor’ soil. It is known as ‘bright leaf’ because it goes yellow in curing rather than brown or near black, and it is weak in nicotine.


Without the pics, it is too difficult to illustrate. What I have done is cut off the brown bits and put them on trays to dry out. Those bits that were yellow, I have wadded. Those bits that had most green parts I have towelled.


I have not given up on the box – too much investment is involved: not the cost but the time. Various solutions come to mind. In fact, I tried one solution. I had a couple of sheets of glass in the garage measuring about 15″ x 8″. I put them in the box at the bottom of the box, at an angle, so that they partially covered the top of the crock pot. The idea was to deflect the warm air flow to flow up the side of the box and thus create a circulation of warm air.

It did not work. I had moistened the leaves and put them back in the box. The tips still dried out too quickly.

But all is not lost. A tiny electric fan (if such is available) and a cup of water might make all the difference, as well as cutting the big leaves in half.


Before I leave it for tonight, one encouraging thing was that the smell coming from the curing leaves in the box was just the same as that coming from the towelled leaves.

What is the worst that can happen? It is that I have a slow cooker, a thermostat, a thermometer and several pieces of chipboard that I shall leave to ASH when I peg out.



4 Responses to “The Curing Box – a Disaster?”

  1. J Brown Says:

    Pah, the worst that can happen is that we learn from your first run, tweak the schedule, and try again! In what I have been reading, this WORKS, and you get smokable tobacco in a week. So, a good incentive to continue. Of course, the information that we are using for your first run, comes from an entirely different situation – an insulated metal can rather than a wooden box, for example, which I assume, will respond differently. So, technique must be adapted to individual conditions! Also, it is interesting to note that thermostats are not terribly accurate, and have a discrepancy of upwards of +/-5C….not too important when you are cooking a chicken, perhaps, but I understand that the temperature at the color curing and wilting stage is incredibly important. We are scientists, now…certainly a scientist doesn’t give up when his first experiment provides results that were unseen!! 🙂

  2. The Last Furlong Says:

    My husband makes Biltong – a South African air dried beef. He uses a biltong maker which you can buy on e bay but he also makes his own drying boxes. I reckon it would solve all your problems. Husband says he uses COMPUTER axial fans and no more than 40watt light bulb. It blows from the top of the box and vents out the bottom. In Rhodesia (Zimbabwe now) they used to dry in sheds just like biltong dries on hooks hanging. Biltong hooks would secure bundles of leaves too. Just thought I’d share.

    • junican Says:

      Many thanks. At the moment, I have a different solution (see latest post), I was thinking about a small fan, and the computer fan sounds ideal. I’ll keep that in mind.

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