I have 500g of tobacco leaf donated for experimental purposes. Poundland currently don’t have the zip-lock bags I hoped to use but there are other shops to try.
Anyway, no experiment should start without a plan. This is what I plan – if you have any suggestions, there is still time to add or delete bits.
Store the leaf shredded or whole? I decided on whole because once it’s shredded it’s in danger of a duty demand. Whole leaf is safer for bulk storage.
There will be no anaerobic jar involved this time. This experiment has to be repeatable by anyone using easily available (and cheap) components. I have some old glass jam jars that might be of use. Air can’t diffuse through glass so once sealed they should be okay. You can boost the CO2 levels in the jars with a teaspoon of baking soda in a little water. It’s not anaerobic but it should be enough to keep the moulds quiet.
I’m not putting glass jars in the freezer, that’s asking for trouble and besides, they’ll be bulky. Those will be room temperature storage – well, in the garage, hardly a bearable room temperature. The freezer will be zip-lock bags only.
So far then, I have
Storage in jam jars with a little added whisky, brandy or rum. Shake well to coat the leaves and that should stop moulds. You can use vodka if you like it, I don’t. The leaves I did this to two years ago still look mould-free so I’ll try it again.
Storage in jam jars with a small container of water, add baking soda to the water and close it quick. The risk here is that the container of water might tip over, so it’ll have to be done carefully.
Storage in zip-lock bags with the air squeezed out, room temperature.
Storage in zip-lock bags as above, but frozen.
I’ll have to make lots of small batches so I can take some out at intervals to test it. If it’s in one big container I’d have to open the container and let air in. Then the mould might take hold! I’ll divide the 500g by the number of experiments and number of time intervals between testing.
If I have four experiments then that’s 125g per experiment, so 25g per sample would give five time intervals. I don’t need a zero time because I’ve been testing that for ages! I also don’t need a control (leaves lying around untreated) because I already know they’ll go mouldy or dry out.
The only real risks in storage are mould or the leaves drying out completely and crumbling. Aged tobacco actually improves, as Rose pointed out. So all I’m trying to do is avoid drying and mould.
The ideal result would be either the jars or the room temperature bags. If you don’t need to fill your freezer with leaves that would be a good thing, especially if you have a spouse who isn’t likely to approve! The booze-treated ones are not going to be good for those who don’t like spirits and beer just won’t cut it on the mould suppression. I really should open one of those old brandy/whisky jars and try it but I’m fascinated to see how long they’ll last.
Right, so that’s the outline of the plan. I will hunt down the very cheap equipment Thursday and Friday because I only have three-hour shifts those days and the shops are mostly still open when I finish. Hopefully we will have a new staff member soon (a pretty one this time – fingers crossed) and I can resume both the days off and the job search. I’m not going to leave Boss on her own because she’s been a very good boss.
Suggestions? What have I missed, or where have I been overthinking?