Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Reflections On The Tobacco Failure

I've spent some time thinking about how my tobacco crop got ruined by mold while it was supposed to be fermenting. More research on the topic has confirmed my decision to throw all of it away. What I can't figure out is how to be successful at it if I do it again.

In the fermentation process, cured leaves are stored in huge piles and the leaves on the bottom ferment, sweating out their ammonia. Farmers keep thermometers at the bottom of the piles. Increased temperatures indicate fermentation is occurring and when the action gets too hot and heavy, they toss the pile so fresh leaves are at the bottom. At least that's what I think I read.

These piles are stored in barns in places with high humidity, high temperatures and plenty of air flow. I was able to simulate the humidity and the temperature, but I didn't work out the air flow. Without it, mold is almost a foregone conclusion.

While my Momma Daisy Memorial Chamber of Doom Tobacco Fermenter could hit 120 F without a problem, it had difficulties maintaining humidity unless I put damp cloths in the chamber. My biggest mistake was to drape those damp cloths over the tobacco. I did that because the leaves had all dryed out. My second mistake was to not toss the salad every day. Researching the mold problem shows that unless the leaves are moved around every day, you get mold.

Finally, I don't think the solar Chamber of Doom was a good solution. It only hit 120 for about 8 hours a day and the fermentation process really wants 120 all day. If I do it again, and I'm sure I will, I'll have to break down and build a real chamber with a heating element and a thermostat. I avoided that because I didn't want the fire risk of the heating element, but that's a problem I'm sure I can solve.

It's really bugging me that this was a failure. I had my heart set on smoking my own tobacco while listening to Old Bocephus.

"We make our own whiskey and our own smoke, too.
Ain't too many things these ol' boys can't do."


Ilíon said...

My father's family were Cotton South, rather than Tobacco South ... and he came North as soon as he could.

Ilíon said...

"I had my heart set on smoking my own tobacco ..."

Wait! What?

K T Cat said...

Ilion, I wouldn't know good tobacco from bad. I just wanted to have a couple of puffs so I could say that I did it.

Ilíon said...

*looks around for the meth-lab equipment* ;-