My order of a half pound of Hearth and Home's American Heritage tobacco arrived recently. This is my second try at this blend. In my years-long quest for a replacement of the old Ehrlich's DPE, I purchased some of this a couple of years ago. Upon opening the first bag I noted a sweet scent. My first reaction was "why don't they tell you when a product is flavored or scented!" I called Russ and asked about it and he promptly assured me that it was all natural tobacco. I must have smoked it as it disappeared.
The smell and taste might be from the cubes of pressed Burley, a casing put there in the manufacturing process to bind the leaves in the press.
I have been fooling around with some blending tobacco and obtaining some success at altering certain blend traits. Where Hearth and Home is a good "American English" (is that phrase an oxymoron?) and the scent soon became unnoticeable in my first batch, I decided to do a little altering to see if I could bring it closer to DPE. I added one ounces of Latakia to the blend. After checking a bowl full, I decided a bit more Latakia was needed to tame the Virginia and added another ounce.
Artificially ageing came to mind when I remembered the two year aging DPE went through before being cut into cubes. Three days later I had a plug of delightfully sweet and mild tobacco that was consistent throughout the bowl and slow burning while leaving a fine ash. It wasn't DPE but a good Burley-Virginia blend.
In last months issue of the Gazette is a link to Pipes Magazine and a very informative article By Russ Ouellette, the blender of Hearth and Home tobaccos, on adjusting a blend and artificially aging tobacco. I read the article with great interest as I have been doing aging for several years. My process is a little different however.
My method of heating the tobacco is steam. Needed are a fine mesh wire sieve, the kind for straining food and a non-aluminum pot with a cover. These are fairly standard in size and the sieve will usually fit a two quart sauce pan and rest on the top rim with a couple of inches of space between the bottom of the sieve and the bottom of the pan. Assure your wife that no harm will come to the sieve or pot.
ready, place the tobacco in a large, heavy gage plastic food bag. Get
the tobacco to the bottom of the bag, about a half thick, and secure it
there by rolling the bag a couple of turns. Put the bag in the press and
leave it under pressure for forty eight hours. If possible, increase the
pressure a couple of time during the pressing.
Remove the tobacco block and place it on paper towels to dry a bit. The
time will depend on the humidity in the place you rest the tobacco. I
have found twenty four hours works for me. Cut the block into manageable
pieces and store as usual.
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2011
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