Best Moisture Content of Feedstock before immersion in Extraction Media?

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Peter_Ramish
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Best Moisture Content of Feedstock before immersion in Extraction Media?

Post by Peter_Ramish »

darwindesign wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:38 pm
Do you have any thoughts on moisture content of the tobacco prior to extraction?
Yes I do ! 8-) I will try and split those comments off in a continuation of that subject into another thread topic.

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50YearsOfCigars
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Re: Best Moisture Content of Feedstock before immersion in Extraction Media?

Post by 50YearsOfCigars »

This new TOPIC TITLE was split off from viewtopic.php?f=13&t=32 so that we can continue on with this interesting subject in this dedicated area...

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Peter_Ramish
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Re: Best Moisture Content of Feedstock before immersion in Extraction Media?

Post by Peter_Ramish »

This is a subject of some disagreement among DIY-NET aficionados.

I, personally, like to evaporate as much of the moisture content out of the leaf as possible before I submerse it into the extraction media. i do that whether the media is Alcohol, PG, VG or whatever.

I do this by just spreading the loose leaf out on a pie plate in open room air at 70F room temperature. I do live in an area that has desert like very low %RH so I do not have the need to use a dehydrator, although that certainly would be possible as long as the air temp is below 165F for short periods of time.

I do know that @Kinnikinnick has expressed some concern with this technique, and maybe he will chime in here with his thoughts.

Anyone else have an opinion on this 'pre-drying' technique?

CAAB
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Re: Best Moisture Content of Feedstock before immersion in Extraction Media?

Post by CAAB »

I keep my cigar leafs in a humidor at around 68% relative humidity with a little Spanish cedar. I am careful not to get the RH too high in case of tobacco beetles.

I try to get the tobacco in the extraction solvent as soon as I cut to size, with minimal loss in moisture content of the cigar leaf. Similar to the advice of cigar smokers, not to let cigar dry out before smoking.

From what I've read, some of the flavor components of a cigar are volatile and may evaporate off with the water if allowed to dry out. Which is one of the reasons why some claim that once your cigars dry out they are ruined.

The interesting thing though is that people rolling cigars are pretty liberal with water use to make the leaves pliable, so they have to be dried out, but I suppose the drying is in a controlled manner to prevent splitting of the cigar.

As far as pipe tobaccos are concerned I believe the less humidity the better during storage. So I don't concern myself too much with their moisture content, although I don't make an effort to dry them out. I am always concerned that I will lose flavor during evaporation.

As far as safety is concerned, I can make no definitive statement, but my guess is that the moisture content of a typical cigar relative to the extraction solvent is low enough to not cause concerns regarding bacteriostatic or bactericidal properties.

darwindesign
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Re: Best Moisture Content of Feedstock before immersion in Extraction Media?

Post by darwindesign »

CAAB wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 3:26 pm
I keep my cigar leafs in a humidor at around 68% relative humidity with a little Spanish cedar. I am careful not to get the RH too high in case of tobacco beetles.
Once you are confident they have gotten to below 70% RH put them in a ziplock and freeze them so you can stop worrying about it. There is a gov study out there somewhere that outlines time tables but basically if your using your house freezer go 72hrs. If you have a deep freeze at -10 this goes down to something like nine hours plus the time to get down to temp. This will kill 100% of the larva.
From what I've read, some of the flavor components of a cigar are volatile and may evaporate off with the water if allowed to dry out. Which is one of the reasons why some claim that once your cigars dry out they are ruined.
I've had cigars get lost in the mail and dry out. After slow rehydrating and giving them as much as a years rest they never came back to what they were. They always tasted like a cheaper imitation. I also had a friend who imported hundreds of boxes of his own custom cigar for resale. They got trapped in customs for an extended period of time and nothing he did could bring them to a state to where he was willing to even give them away. These were Indonesian puros which one would think should be forgiving as they are not exactly subtle in flavor.

That being said I know 50RH does not harm flavor from both personal and friends experience (although they are very easily damaged physically at this humidity).
The interesting thing though is that people rolling cigars are pretty liberal with water use to make the leaves pliable, so they have to be dried out, but I suppose the drying is in a controlled manner to prevent splitting of the cigar.
The humidity of the leaves of paid attention to at all stages of the process. The raw leaves are not stored wet as that would mold and increase chances of larva hatching. The leaves are too delicate to be rolled without wetting however so there is no way around this. As soon as they are rolled there first stop is an extended stay in a drying room with controlled humidity. That being said I think they often shipped upwards of 75RH as they are MUCH less prone to damage when they are this wet.

Once I get around to picking up some more jars i'll do a side by side with one dried out and one not and report back. Seems like an interesting test to me.

CAAB
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Re: Best Moisture Content of Feedstock before immersion in Extraction Media?

Post by CAAB »

Once you are confident they have gotten to below 70% RH put them in a ziplock and freeze them so you can stop worrying about it.
Yes, I learned that trick the hard way. I noticed some hatched beetles in my "Tupperdor." I think from an Organic Pennsylvania Broadleaf. Fortunately it was winter. I was able to put the whole Tupperware bin in an unheated garage for a few days during a cold spell. No way it would've fit in my freezer. From now on I will always freeze everything before it goes in the Tupperdor.
After slow rehydrating and giving them as much as a years rest they never came back to what they were.
I wondered about that. I've read some people mentioning that part of the problem of rehydrating is the time involved for the moisture to reach the center without creating an imbalance. It made me think that perhaps enough time wasn't allowed to rehydrate, but it sounds like even after a year they didn't have the same quality.

That makes me think that in the process of evaporation something sensitive is lost. It makes me wonder about the tobacco leaves typically reserved for pipe blends. They probably shouldn't be dried out too much either. I think when pipe tobaccos aren't given special consideration in terms of humidity it's because they typically have casing that possibly binds to the more sensitive flavor components. But if you have the individual leaves, they aren't protected in that way.

I think I might be a little more careful with my Virginia, Burley, and such. Try to keep them at a good humidity.
Once I get around to picking up some more jars i'll do a side by side with one dried out and one not and report back. Seems like an interesting test to me.
That would be a revealing test.

darwindesign
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Re: Best Moisture Content of Feedstock before immersion in Extraction Media?

Post by darwindesign »

CAAB wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 3:56 am
Yes, I learned that trick the hard way. I noticed some hatched beetles in my "Tupperdor." I think from an Organic Pennsylvania Broadleaf. Fortunately it was winter. I was able to put the whole Tupperware bin in an unheated garage for a few days during a cold spell.
I don't think putting a tupperdor in a cold spot like that might be the best idea. The less air, the faster the freeze, which should minimize moisture shift in the leaves themselves. Also the larve is surprisingly resistant even in cold temperatures. A quick freeze will kill any beatles and a significant amount of larve but getting from 'some' to 'all' takes time. All the risk of damage (which i've never experienced) is in the freeze/thaw cycle so it's best make sure you got them the first time.
I've read some people mentioning that part of the problem of rehydrating is the time involved for the moisture to reach the center without creating an imbalance.
The problem most people have is they push it too fast and split the wrapper (assuming it didn''t split when it dried out). Stored at a constant humidity a cigar should normalize completely within a week in my experience. There is a high likelihood of this kicking off some level of fermentation which produces ammonia. The extended rest is to give time for this process, if it happens, to finish. In reality after a month it is probably the best of whatever it's going to be. I have yet to rescue one that worth the trouble.
I think when pipe tobaccos aren't given special consideration in terms of humidity it's because they typically have casing that possibly binds to the more sensitive flavor components.
I can't say I know what your talking about with pipe tobaccos not being given special consideration. I'm fairly limited in my knowledge of them but they most definitely have humidity levels they should be stored at and i've not known any pipe smoker that didn't keep their loose tobacco in sealed jars. Perhaps it just seems that way as with hardier leaves and not needing to worry about physical damage you don't have to take the same measures that you do with cigars. From what I understand it is standard practice for pipe smokers to add distilled water to their jars when they can feel the tobacco is drying out. The "drying" process prior to packing a pipe is fairly short and I don't think this produces a moisture level all that different inside the leaves as what you started with. If you pack a bowl and let it sit overnight before lighting it generally tastes quite different than a quick dry on a plate.

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Kinnikinnick
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Re: Best Moisture Content of Feedstock before immersion in Extraction Media?

Post by Kinnikinnick »

Back in the day, Peter and I discussed this topic a bit.

My viewpoint was something along the lines of... No big deal. Don’t worry too much about the moisture content prior to maceration... most of the moisture in tinned or bulk tobacco is most likely PG or some other casing they spray on the tobacco to ensure a nice moist looking tobacco, rather than a dry and brittle hay like consistency. Some folks are all about the “looks” of a tobacco.

I’ve macerated +/- 75 different tobaccos (tinned, bulk, and/or whole leaf), not giving much thought to the water content in the leaf. They’ve all turned out fine. I have PG extractions which are roughly 3 years old (stored at room temp) with no visible microbial growth in the extraction due to H2O in the tobacco. PG’s antimicrobial properties help to kill and/or prevent the growth of microorganisms like bacteria and mold, thus, the less concern for microbial growth in the extract.

Now, I can’t speak for extractions using only VG or alcohol. I’ve settled on only performing PG extractions.

I always say, there are no hard rules controlling this hobby of ours. Do what works for you and enjoy the outcome. ;)

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