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100% home grown snus

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  • 100% home grown snus

    So the time has come ... my last years harvest was a modest amount of several different types of tobacco ... but it cured well in the end and has been doing a bit of ageing since October.

    I figure that seeing as the process of snusmaking is essentially a forced ageing process then there was nothing to stop me having a go with my own leaf to see what a simple recipe would give me. I find this very exciting because this batch will be a "from seed to snus" batch - something I've been wanting to try since starting this whole home-grown caper.

    So I spent a while grinding down some of my own leaves. For this recipe I used a single variety - Dark Virginia. But I had processed it in 2 different ways - the first component was simply the cured leaf ground to flour. But the second was making a flour from a carrotte of tobacco I had prepared in the autumn. The carrotte is a bundle of leaf that has been de-stemmed and then rolled up in canvas and then had rope very tightly wound around the whole package producing a very compressed stick of tobacco that looks something like a dried up black banana! The aroma of this carrotte is very complex and different to that of the simply dried leaf as if it has undergone some kind of fermentation. Anyhow - I thought I'd try mixing a 75:25 blend of standard leaf flour to carrotte flour.

    Recipe was simple - 100g of flour, 160ml water, 9g salt mixed and cooked up at 75ºC for 48 hours then mixed with 2.5 tsp of lye water and returned to 75ºC for a further 12 hours.

    The first thing I noticed is that my home-grown stuff reacted very differently to the grinding process - I had dried it out in a low oven before as I normally do, but it had not developed a decent percentage of "dust fraction" which is the very fine powdered part of the tobacco flour that binds the snus together nicely when mixed with water. When I added my salt solution it was clear that this snus was not going to hold together well as los!!! It reminded me of Gellivare a little.

    The second thing I noticed was that the delicious aromatic smell of the carrotte flour (it smells a bit like molasses mixed with leather) had completely disappeared in the first cooking procedure ... so I would think that this ingredient is a bit of a waste of time for future attempts.

    And thirdly ... tasting just after the snus has been taken off the heat for the last time is never advisable! But I always do it to try and get an idea of how it's going to turn out ... I would say that this Dark Virginia batch isn't showing a lot of promise. It's still got the full harshness of a snus that is still giving off copious amounts of ammonia and as such is pretty unpleasant, but under that it's got a kind of grassy, mealy, cake-like taste ... there doesn't seem to be much depth of flavour.

    So all in all - I'll let you know how it turns out - but I have a hunch that this one will absolutely need some kind of flavouring to it. It could also do with a touch of sweetness as well. I will leave it in the cold shed to de-gas for a week or so and then taste again ... if it's as bad as I anticipate I will try a little lemon oil and liquorice powder.
    Squeezyjohn

    Sometimes wrong and sometimes right .... but ALWAYS certain!!!

  • #2
    Best of luck! Sounds like a great learning experience, even if you don't get the desired result.

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    • #3
      Thanks Andy ... the learning curve is what it's all about! One day I will crack it ... but probably not today
      Squeezyjohn

      Sometimes wrong and sometimes right .... but ALWAYS certain!!!

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      • #4
        Keep at it squeezy, Rome wasn't built in a day!

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        • #5
          So I've given this one 2 weeks in the fridge to allow it to age a bit and here's my take on the snus it has made.

          As predicted it really doesn't hold together at all well! The texture is more like that of Copenhagen fine cut snuff - if you compress it, it tends to bounce back out in a spongy way rather than binding together like a nice pris.

          Anyway - flavour! When you put this in your mouth it seems bland and salty with very little taste. A snus made from finer ground tobacco hits with the flavour straight away - but this does far less than any other snus I've had. But when the taste develops about a minute or two after you shove it up there - it's very good and it tastes much more like the actual raw tobacco than any other snus I've had. Then the flavour develops again after about 10 minutes and it starts to get too strong and cigar-like for my tastes ... this also the taste that occurred with the Dark Air Cured ligero leaf that I have made snus from in the past - and is probably indicative of the tobacco variety. Along with the tobacco type - I also think that the course grind of the tobacco makes the reaction with the alkali take much longer than it does with a fine grind.

          The nicotine kick also comes in much slower on this one than any other snus I've made before - the effect is far more like that of chewing tobacco. And once the nicotine does kick in then it's level sits between a regular and a stark los. It does suffer from more throat burn than any other home-made one I've done before too - but that could be a result of the grind as well as the tobacco type.

          Whatever the case ... home-grown is quite different from the commercial tobacco leaf I've used before. I may split the batch and see how half of it ages while the other half can be used to see what can be done with flavourings. I also will mess around with putting it in portions to see how that affects flavour.
          Squeezyjohn

          Sometimes wrong and sometimes right .... but ALWAYS certain!!!

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          • #6
            Ok and a month in to the experiment ... we have a success!

            This snus definitely transforms completely over a month - probably because of the size of grind as i mentioned in the post above. The snus still holds together worse than Gellivare did - so it must be a proper man's snus!

            One month on and all the harshness has vanished - the tobacco flavour is still slow to come on, but once it kicks in it is a very true rich tobacco taste - but still not so strong as to overpower the mouth. What I mean is - if I've just drunk a pint of water and try this snus I can taste every single complexity in the tobacco. If I've just sipped a glass of single malt I can taste absolutely nothing from the snus whatsoever. The tobacco taste is slightly fermented, nutty, chocolatey and dark with a hint of cigar.

            It packs a medium punch from the nicotine point of view and if you can keep it in long enough the taste just carries on for ever.

            It definitely pays to try it at different stages of development to see how things develop!
            Squeezyjohn

            Sometimes wrong and sometimes right .... but ALWAYS certain!!!

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            • #7
              I shall revive this thread to let you know that I think I have cracked it. January is normally the time when the tobacco I grew in the summer before becomes ready to grind up in to flour after a full autumn curing and a winter having been stored in the safety of the house where it cannot go mouldy - which in a wet year like this one it certainly would have done outdoors!

              It's all in the tobacco variety you grow ... that much is clear! And I think I've identified a variety which not only grows brilliantly in the UK (I would imagine this would hold true for many Canadian and northern latitude US growers too), it cures very quickly which is essential if you have a wet autumn and ... finally it makes a really delicious snus all by itself with no need for blending! This variety is called Bolivian Criollo Black.

              It grows very fast, making very large 8ft tall plants with long pointed smooth leaves (also good for cigars). These leaves when ripe can be cured by piercing them on to a piece of galvanised wire and hanging somewhere under shelter where it is warm and fairly dry. Once they are fully brown and the mid-rib has gone crispy they are done and can be folded up and brought indoors ... for some of my later harvested leaves the weather was too wet and I rescued them by taking the mid-rib which wasn't fully dried out and removing it - you need to do that for grinding snus flour anyway.

              Snus flour was made by using a regular household blender on the leaves in batches and then sieving the resulting powder to get any big bits out. This makes a flour which doesn't really hold together well as a snus as it contains very little dust fraction ... and if you wish you can improve this by taking about 30% of your finished snus flour and further grinding it in batches using a blade spice or coffee grinder ... this fine fraction when added back to the snus flour will help it stick together as a los snus better.

              The recipe used was exactly the same as given in the first post of this thread ... but the resulting snus is much much better than any of the types I made last year because this variety has a much better balance of nicotine and full flavour without bitterness.

              The taste is unlike any commercial snus I've had, but I will use them as references. Initially it's dark and has hints of dark chocolate - and develops in to a nice full non-harsh tobacco taste almost like the Blå los variety but less sweet. As it develops it has a good kick of nicotine and you can taste the pure spicy tobacco more and more with notes of espresso and toasted nuts. The grind reminds me of Gellivare but it's darker tasting. Currently this batch has only had 5 days of ageing since it was made so it could well have more developing to do in the coming few weeks. I'm hoping it will also develop a slightly fruity taste which can sometimes happen.

              All in all ... if you're going to try growing 1 tobacco to make snus from at home ... I would definitely suggest you start with Bolivian Criollo Black. I grew a patch about the size of the area in which I'd grow 50 onions (12 tobacco plants) and it made enough snus flour to make about 50 cans of los from - maybe a little more. It's a fine variety!
              Squeezyjohn

              Sometimes wrong and sometimes right .... but ALWAYS certain!!!

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              • #8
                Amazing SJ wish I had your greenfinger skills, mine caps out at keeping most of my grass alive.

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                • #9
                  Honestly it's not that hard. Just get rid of the grass - and the brown stuff underneath will grow tobacco just fine;-)
                  Squeezyjohn

                  Sometimes wrong and sometimes right .... but ALWAYS certain!!!

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                  • #10
                    I'm still waiting for you to open your store SJ

                    I'll be first in line (well maybe Skell then me.......but I'll definitely be upfront )

                    I'll be interested to hear how it ages out.......let us know in a few weeks
                    When it's my time to go, I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my uncle did....... Not screaming in terror like his passengers

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                    • #11
                      Thanks dog!

                      As you know - I cannot do that - but watch out in your local bookshop for my cookery book next Christmas!
                      Squeezyjohn

                      Sometimes wrong and sometimes right .... but ALWAYS certain!!!

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                      • #12
                        Is it legal to grow them in your backyard?

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