I really should have thought of this.

Maybe if I smoke my pipe more often I’ll have better ideas. A pipe forces you to sit and think, you can’t do other things while smoking it.

Anway, the Blocked Dwarf found this pretty neat method of fast-curing tobacco. I’ll embed that video at the bottom of the page. The link is there in case the embed fails.

It’s not a probiotic, to get technical. A probiotic uses live bacteria. A prebiotic adds something to your diet that gets your existing bacteria all fired up. What this stuff is, is an enzyme supplement. Rather like the one for pancreatic enzymes although judging by the description this one is for duodenal/ileal enzymes. When you don’t produce enough of your own you can’t digest food too well so you lose most of it. So there are supplements.

What he’s done, possibly without realising, is to use his slow cooker as an incubator to provide the enzymes with a controlled temperature. I’d suggest around 40 C for best results. He did it at around 50 and it worked. That would stop mould growth and stop most dangerous bacteria too so 50 is probably the way to go. These are enzymes, not bacteria. They won’t grow and they won’t infect or cause spoilage. Since we aren’t made of the plant materials these enzymes break down there is little risk in using them. You won’t find your fingers dissolving.

These are the same enzymes the leaves will have floating around in them. The ones the plant used when alive to rearrange bits when growing and to release sugars from its storage facility (starch). When the leaf dies the enzymes keep working for a while. What he’s done here is boost the enzymes with extra ones and has managed to cure tobacco leaves to a decent smoke in 24 hours!

I could get a slow cooker but I already have incubators the size of fridges… and I will have to check which enzymes I already have in the freezers too. They aren’t food grade enzymes but this isn’t food.

It certainly beats rummaging through civet cat crap for digested beans!

Anyway, here is the man who thought of something a microbiologist failed to think of… and I’m very glad he did.


40 thoughts on “I really should have thought of this.

  1. (If I edit I mess up the embedded video)

    The stuff in question is called Candex and is sold as something that breaks down fungal cell walls.


    It will do nothing to fungal cell walls because they aren’t made of cellulose, nor are they made of any of the other things it can break. It will have an enormous effect on leaves though. It won;t cure any diseases, but it will cure tobacco 🙂


    • This is a big deal. The tobacco curing process is something of a fiddly process. If you can do that in an hour using a slow cooker then I suspect a LOT more people will be trying the home grown route. The methodology needs to be proved by replication (we are all good scientists after all). But it does look like an amazing finding. Well played sir, well played!


  2. Having met Professors whose Ego was even bigger than my own (and mine is about the size and Rockwell grade of the Kohinoor) it impresses me that Leg Iron is happy to admit that a fucking barber from Upper Colostomy Bag Alaska (?) thought of something that he hadn’t. Says a lot about him as a man/scientist/author/piss head.

    Anyways in a later video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_XUgZpg0tU no I still haven’t found out how to do links) Doug-the-barber goes on to explain he has researched the topic (by searching here http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/) and that this is a process that the tobacco companies use to ‘homogenize’ their leaves.

    ATM, in one ‘ear’ I have Great Great Granddad Schlomo OneflewoverzeKukooznestiwitz (opened a green grocers in Königsberg around 1880) screaming at me to : ” Oy vey, find a cheaper version of that Candex stuff, already” and in the other mental ear Great Great Granddadd “Danger Smith” (cos he was a danger to himself and all around him) is saying : “You could make your own Slow Cooker out of….”

    Fortunately DSL ,another N2Der, has promised me a slo-cooker on Monday and so I shall be ordering Candex/cheaper alternative and doing some tests. We have all had leaf that smelt of hay (ie not fully cured-if it smells of cat piss then it has started to ‘ferment’ of its own accord). And I shall keep everyone updated ….maybe even with photos.


    • Maybe in Alaska, there’s more time to think during the long dark nights…

      There might well be a cheaper version. It doesn’t need all the enzymes, the amylase and cellulase are likely to be the most important ones for baccy purposes. The pancreatic mix was called Pancrex V, it was also damn expensive. I used to use it in gut fermentors but then I wasn’t paying for it.

      There are lots of ‘enzyme digest’ pills on Amazon but while most contain amylase, none seem to contain cellulase. Humans don’t have cellulase so there’d be no need to add it to anyone’s gut – it wouldn’t hurt, but might add to gas production. Could be worth testing a few of the cheaper ones anyway, if they are available in a small pack size.

      I’m sure someone gave me a slow cooker many years ago. I put it somewhere in a ‘safe place’ with the thought ‘must find a use for that one day’. I wonder where this particular ‘safe place’ was? I hope it was in this house and not the last one.


      • Thanks for looking,Leg. Just ordered the above and collected a Slo-Cooker this morning so hopefully the day after tomorrow I can start a batch digesting. The plan is to try some of the leaves after 24 hours and then some after 48. I’ll probably go for a dose of 2 tabs dissolved in about 500ml of water…on the scientific principle that ‘one drink is never enough’ and that overdosing the leaves on enzymes probably wouldn’t be a problem….but, as said, any dosage suggestions you might have would be gratefully received. I intend to document the entire process and will put up a blog post etc etc

        I will be using Polish Virginia leaf (from TL4U) that is still a little harsh for my taste and I’m hoping the additional ‘fermentation’ will smooth it out a little. I will probably oven dry the leaf first then spray it with enzyme solution as I assume the dry leaf will absorb more of the solution into itself than moist leaf? Then I’ll slo-cook at 50C.

        That’s the plan….now I just have to clean the slo-cooker and test the temp gauge on it cos it only say ‘Lo-Med-Hi’….helpfully.


        • I have the same Virginia leaf, it smokes fine for me but there is always room for improvement.

          You don’t have to be exactly at 50C. The enzymes work faster at higher temperatures but much above 50C and they’ll fall apart. They are proteins, they will be damaged by cooking. And destroyed by burning, so the smoke will only contain a bit more burnt protein than it would have anyway.

          You want to avoid 37-39C since that is where most dangerous bacteria will be active but no slow-cooker manufacturer with an ounce of sense would let you incubate food at that temperature anyway. It would grow Salmonella faster than it would cook anything.

          Dosage will have to be trial and error, the image of the pack didn’t show how much of each enzyme was in each pill. Two sounds like a good place to start – increase the dose for the next run if it’s not enough. If it works fine, decrease to one and see if one is enough.

          I didn’t pay for express delivery. The post office has had quite enough out of me, through ebaying, so I took the cheap route. No hurry, not until I have more leaves ready.


  3. Got a slow cooker, but never used it. Even started to build some stuff to grow stuff in. Unfortunately got no seeds to give the whole thing a go with and can’t afford the beer tokens right now to buy some. No beer = no work/building/creativity:-(


  4. The thought occurs to me that IF this does prove to be the philosopher’s stone of baccy curing then perhaps Leg could mix up a bulk batch of ‘chemicals’ and turn a tidy profit flogging dark green victorian glass bottles of “Dr LegIron’s Patented Tobacco Refiner, Enzymical Exciter and ‘Cure’ All” to us all! – he knows where to get all the right stuff in bulk and has the training etc etc


    • I bet the EU would ban it in a flash. Selling something like that these days would need years of research to back up any claims – it’s one of the ways the EU has killed off small business startups. The safety side should not be an issue. If it’s safe to swallow, claiming it’s poisonous would make the antis look even sillier than they already do. It’ll be the business regulations that will make it impossible to set up.

      Nothing to stop some kitchen science though, and then just telling people what works 😉


  5. Intellectuals smoke pipes, the lower orders smoke fags, blimey you should know this ! Didn’t you watch any of the stirring WW2 films always on telly in the 1960s ? Even I, that has had 2 bottles of Garacha Old Vines 2011 knows that.


    • Oh, some of we sweaty peasants had pipes in the sixties too. My mate’s grandfather smoked anything in his – he liked Bogie Roll but he’d literally fire up anything he could get.


    • Oi ! My dad was a fully paid up member of the lower orders all his life and smoked a pipe, it was common, as we he and so am I. There’s countless generations of the great unwashed in my blood but I let the side down I’m afraid by never taking to nicotine, so I took to drink instead.


  6. The more methods that we small-scale experimenters have at our disposal, the better!
    The guy in the vid is a man after my own heart!
    I have just watched the video for the second time. I was interested in knowing what the state of the leaves were when he started the process. He does not say. Early on, he said that he had lost three pounds (?) to mould, which made me think that he must be growing his own, but, late on in the vid, he says “…. from when it arrived at my door”, which seems to suggest that it had been delivered. The question is, “Was the leaf already dried?” There are suggestions that it was, since he mentions having to moisten it.
    Without that certain knowledge, it is a bit tricky. If you were to watch the video of cigar tobacco curing which I have on my essay about growing, curing, etc, you will see how cigar tobacco is definitely allowed to ferment ‘properly’. As the guy in the vid says, the dried leaf is stacked and a temperature probe placed inside the heap. Daily, the tobacco ‘hands’ (bunches of leaves) are rotated from the outside to the inside so that the whole lot goes through this process. I suspect that pipe tobacco goes through a similar process. Cigarette tobacco, however, is not fermented in that way. From what I have read, the leaves are suspended from racks in the barns, the atmosphere is heated, while controlling the humidity, to about 40C for a day or two. Then the temperature is increase slowly over a couple more days up to about 60C. The colour change of the leaves goes through yellow to a golden brown.
    At that point, the tobacco is fully cured, essentially, since the enzyme activity has occurred, but, in recent times, manufactures started to take another day or so and raise the temp to around 100C to dry out the midribs fully. Obviously, at 100C, the leaves would be tinder dry and it was then that ‘casing’ would occur. ‘Casing’, or ‘bringing to case’, was simply moistening the leaves to bring the moisture content to an acceptable level. The guy in the vid mentioned casing, but I am not sure what he meant by it.

    What is very interesting is the effect of the introduced additional enzymes on different types of tobacco leaf. I have recently had a similar experience.
    I have just completed my harvesting and curing for this year. Some of my stuff is over two months old and has been stored and aged a bit. My intention is to chuck the whole lot in a tub and mix it all thoroughly and then to let it age for a couple more months. The reason is that my own stuff stinks at first when rolled and smoked, but gradually the stink fades. I finish up with a sweet and smooth tobacco. What I have done is to mix my won with whole leaf Virginia, one third my own and two thirds Virginia. The result is a consistently smooth and mild smoke. Today, for the first time, I mixed the same proportions with Burley. The result has been a significantly stronger ‘throat hit’ and a little less sweetness. So, the question of what is the best blend arises.

    This is already too long! So I’ll finish with this observation. I have a heated propagator. Several hours ago, I wrapped a thermometer inside a bath-towel and placed it inside the propagator. I have been checking the temperature from time to time and it seems to have settled at a temp of 27.5C. I know from experience that that temp is enough to yellow the leaves while not drying them too rapidly, when they are rolled up in the towels. Having said that, if there are several towels in the propagator, the temperature is increased. Wadding the yellow leaves and putting them inside a sealed container heats them up somewhat more. I can also increase the heat further by covering the container with a towel. This is quite experimental at the moment, but it seems to be promising.
    I should say that I am perfectly happy with the quality of the stuff that I produce, but I am still concerned about the shrinkage. I don’t quite understand that.


    • I don’t know either – what stage were the leaves at? If they were bought-in they might have been just dried or they might have been pre-cured. That would make them okay for cigarettes but pipe baccy needs more. Then again, a thin strand of pipe baccy through a cigarette makes it sooo much more interesting.

      Especially if it’s ‘Rainy day’ pipe baccy – also amazing in a pipe.

      If his method works though, it would turn those months or years of ageing the leaves into days. That would encourage a lot more folk into the grow-your-own game and that has to be good. The more plants out there shedding seed, the better the chance of a wild plant infesting every hedgerow and every bit of waste ground.

      That’s what I want to see. When they get around to banning the growing of it, it will be too late. It’ll be growing everywhere. The more growers we have, the more likely it becomes. The killer is the work and the wait for most people – cut those to the bone and it’ll be in every garden next year.

      A ‘baccy kit’ along the lines of a beer kit would make Ozzy the Chancer go very pale indeed. He dare not tax seeds or leaves. But it has to produce within the growing season, or as a kit with leaves that can be smokeable in a few weeks at most. We won’t win many converts if we tell them they have to wait months or years, and risk losing a lot to mould.

      Even if it’s not as good as a two-year vintage, it’s likely to be far better than the cheap-end commercial crap most smoke now.

      If every smoker did this, we can destroy the antismoker movement forever. No government would ever dare fund them again.


      • The guy said that he used Madural (?),Virginia and Burley. He said the the Madural was best ‘with cinammon and clove flavours….’.
        If we assume that he is obtaining the same sort of leaf which is available to us, ie. cured by flue curing, then we can work out what he has been doing, perhaps.
        Suppose that he has acquired cured Virginia leaf, but finds the taste ‘a bit harsh and burns hot’. I suspect that he has already chopped a certain amount because he talked about ‘pouring the candex over it’. I assume that he then put the chopped, soaked stuff in the slo-cooker at around 50C and left it for 24 hours before ‘drying it and trying it’. He was very happy with the result.
        It is interesting that, when I yellow my home-grown by towelling, the yellow leaf does not smell nor is it sticky, but if I then wad it. as I have described in the “GROWING ETC” essay:

        then the colour of the leaf becomes dark brown and sticky. I have assumed that the stickiness occurs because the leaves have ‘properly’ fermented’ (turning the starches into sugars). In that case, I have produced something akin more to pipe or cigar tobacco than to cigarette tobacco. Indeed, the finished product is very aromatic.

        I’ve just ordered a bottle of the pills you suggested. What a rip off! Not the cost of the pills at about £6.50, but the postage at a similar amount! But it is a one-off and worth the cost for the experimental value.
        What I intend to do is to make a solution and then paint it onto the face of the cured, Virginia leaves. I intend to cut the leaves up into smaller pieces and seal them inside a container. I haven’t got a slo-cooker, but I reckon that I can get a sufficiently warm atmosphere for the chemical reactions to take place using the heated propagator.
        Should be interesting and fun ….


        • “I’ve just ordered a bottle of the pills you suggested. What a rip off! Not the cost of the pills at about £6.50, but the postage at a similar amount!”

          Yeah I paid for the Express as well and was a bit miffed that it cost so much. I’m hoping you’ll document your attempt on your blog? Be really good if we could get as many as possible trying this, in all it’s variants.

          I should think your incubator will be suffice. I’ve had a plastic bucket of shredded leaf (that smelt of hay when I got it) start to ferment simply because it was in a warm room. I say ‘ferment’ because when I took the lid off it smelt like a cat had pissed in there…ammonia being released.

          I’m planning to snail mail Leg a small tester of my results for purposes of “peer review” , if you, Junican, would like one (in your role as a Tobacco Growing God) then email me a postal address. My email:jacquesketch at gmail.


          • I added a DVD and went for the free delivery. Doesn’t matter if it takes a week, I have the plum wine to deal with anyway. That’s at the ‘please stop fermenting now’ stage.


          • I am obliged, BD, by your offer. How can I resist? But the easiest and most economical way is to send an example to Leggie. He can easily distribute stuff at minimum cost. I hope that you do so.
            There is, however, a ‘sine qua non’ – which is that tobacco plant leaves are just that. It is what we do with them which matters. Most of what occurs is natural. We can interfere with nature to an extent.
            The problem with the Zealots of Tobacco Control is that they are not ‘scientific’ at all. They are emotional. Even Doll’s Doctors Study is, in the conclusions that Doll drew, emotional. If that were not so, he would have come to the conclusion that heavy smoking is best for the nation’s finances because of the massive early deaths of heavy smokers, just when they might start to draw their old-age pensions.
            Send Leggie a sample. Certainly, I shall publish the results of my experiments with the enzyme.
            It is becoming clearer and clearer every day that we are not competing with ‘scientists’ in Tobacco Control. Those people are paid propagandists. It follows therefore that we can shower them with real scientific horse-manure. Thus you turn the ‘moral high ground’ on its head. The ‘horse-manure’ becomes pure, while tobacco control becomes shitty.


        • Postage prices are dreadful now. I always opt for the cheap route. Patience is not just a virtue, it saves money too.

          I have a little spray bottle I use to keep hanging leaves hydrated. It’s sold by Poundland for the purpose of spraying hair while doing those hair-sorting things women do, but it’s a handy little aluminium spray bottle. Yes, I hang around the women’s stuff in Poundland. The little emery boards are useful (I think women use them to sharpen their tongues) and those funny little pads are great for applying weathering powders to models.

          If I could get hold of a small batch of Cavendish Black tobacco I’d be well pleased. It’s the powerhouse in many pipe baccies and a tiny amount in a cigarette really livens it up. If I can find out how to make my own, I’ll be smiling until the day I die.


      • Thank you, LI.
        Reading the procedure reminded me too much of my traumatic and messy experiments in making soft cheese last year.
        I fell out with Morrisons because all they had were low fat cream cheeses and Philadelphia.
        I managed to make a decent cream cheese but the rest were a huge disappointment, trashed the kitchen and involved far too much washing up.
        Rennet and I do not get on.


  7. Pingback: Baccy growing experiments - Anonymong

  8. Pingback: Using Enzymes to Speed Up Curing | Bolton Smokers Club

  9. So did this go anywhere? I’ve just ordered a bottle of the cheaper stuff and I’m going to give it a try. I roll my own cigars and want to try to improve the leaf I get on retail. blisscigar.co


      • Thanks for your reply. Were there pretty good efforts made in terms of trying to find a proper enzyme solution, proper degree of soaking, and temps/duration of “cooking?” dougthebarber seemed to have had such good initial success; but then there was no follow-up on his site that I could find.


        • No detailed experiments. Nobody had time or resources. Finding the ideal mix of enzymes and right conditions would be good, but it would take a lottery win to give someone time to do it.

          It’ll happen, but not yet.


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