Enzyme experiment, day 2.

The first hard frost has arrived. There was still frost on the ground at midday today and we are officially below zero C at night now. That’s it for the growing season until May, although I have one plant in the greenhouse in the hope of getting some seeds. It doesn’t have many leaves left, but it won’t need many now. There’s hardly any sun.

To start with, here’s a seasonal autumnal leaf. Don’t they go a lovely colour?

autumnleafThis leaf is a little over-dried around the edges but is otherwise ready to use. No further treatment is really necessary. However, further treatment can enhance the leaf and also I cannot resist meddling. Hence the enzyme experiment.

Yesterday’s wads of leaf are drying. I teased out the wads and found that there was some difference. Those with the high level of enzyme fell to bits, while those with no enzyme still had large intact chunks. So the enzyme is doing something. Whether it’s doing something good is the question and I won’t know that until it’s dry enough to burn. Shouldn’t be long. The teased-out Day One wads looked like this:

dayone24As far as colour and smell go, there’s not much to choose between them – at this stage they all smell of ammonia. The difference is in the degree of leaf breakdown and whether that is a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.

These have now been compressed into little blocks and are having the remaining excess juice squeezed out.

Today I opened the 48-hour enzyme treated packs. Here is what they look like –

daytwoThese are (left to right) packs 2, 4 and 6. Pack 2 was water with no enzyme. Pack 4 was 1 tablet in 100 ml and pack 6 was 2 tablets in 100 ml. Again, I can’t see or smell a lot of difference here. When they’ve dried a little, tomorrow, I’ll take them apart and see if there is the same enzyme degradation as with the 24 hour ones.

So far then, I see little difference in terms of colour or smell with or without enzyme but I am seeing some rapid leaf breakdown with the double-strength enzyme. First impressions are that the 48 hour incubation offers no advantage over the 24 hour incubation and that if that enzyme is going to do anything, it needs to be at least two tablets per 100 ml and roughly 50 ml per 5g of over-dried leaf.

The real test will be smoking it. Until then, I can’t say whether rapid leaf breakdown matters at all. It might make it excellent, it might make it crap. Testing will not be easy – I’m not smoking six cigarettes in rapid succesion! I’ll pass out. Maybe I can make six ultra-thin rollies to try it.

Aside from drying and smoking, the experiment has ended. I’ll leave any further testing until I get back to the lab and when I do, it’ll  be 24 hours only and with 2 and 4 tablets per 100 ml. Oh, and the control. That runs every time. The lab has incubators I can set to 50 +/- 1 degC so it’ll be real science time.

I might not have leaves when I finally get to the lab so I have ordered a few more from TL4U for experimental purposes. I hope the order went through okay, the Paypal did but I didn’t get an acknowledgement from the site this time. If nothing happens in a few days I’ll get in touch.

As far as I can tell, if this method works, it’s basically Junican’s wadding technique done in 24 hours. Whether that’s worthwhile when you factor in the cost of the enzymes is another matter. It depends on the quality of the finished product, I suppose – if it costs money to do it, then it needs to be better than the no-cost method or it’s not worth doing.

Where this might be useful is in the treatment of leaves that dried too fast. They still have areas with green spots because the water vanished before the leaf’s own enzymes turned it yellow/brown. Normally I’d cut out those bits and throw them away but if they can be saved, that would be good. Heck, I’ve bought the enzymes, might as well try!

Here endeth the tobacco-science part.

Tomorrow I have to rack off the plum wine. It has finally finished fermenting and needs to be taken off the sediment so it doesn’t end up tasting like Marmite. I’d already racked it off once but then added a spoonful of sugar and it got all fired up again so I kept feeding it until it had had enough. This one might need the smaller glass size for drinking purposes. Just the half-pint.

I have another two, maybe three, plum wine raw materials (frozen mashed plums) so once this one is finished with and set aside to age, the next will get underway at once.

On Firebox they have a ‘make your own malt whisky‘ kit. Don’t buy it. One hundred pounds for one litre? They say it’s ready in days but to be a true malt it would have to be in that barrel for eight years. Even to be a whisky, it would have to be in there for three years. Firebox have a lot of fun stuff but for a hundred quid you can get around three bottles of really posh malt whisky. Okay, you get the barrel, but it’s a one litre barrel. Nah. If I do go into making my own whisky (unlikely since waiting eight minutes to try it would be a stretch, never mind eight years!) I’d need a bigger barrel.

If you have money to burn, send it to me and I’ll spend it on things then burn them. You know it makes sense.

3 thoughts on “Enzyme experiment, day 2.

  1. Day 2 sneaked past me somehow! You’ve been writing a lot in the last couple of days.

    I’ve only used 2 tablets so I have 58 left. I’ll put them away until next year. I am thinking that they may be useful with the later, smaller leaves which tend to be more stubborn about yellowing. But I’m definitely going to try ‘painting’ some green leaves before towelling them. The leaves already have the enzymes, but it will be interesting to see how the leaves react to externally applied solution.
    But, as you said, it is hardly worth bothering if there is no appreciable difference.
    Regarding the wadding, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no need to wad the yellow leaves until they go really brown and sticky. It seems to be enough if they go partly brown. Something like this:


    I hope that the pic opens!

    I only started to try interrupting the process recently, so I can’t be sure until I get good leaves next year.


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