Session 2 of the informational sessions at the Florida Barnsmoker deals with the curing process.
Curing tobacco goes back centuries. Techniques of curing tobacco have changed with time and invention of machines, but it seems that for the most part Drew Estate relies on curing methods that are what you could possibly call “primitive”.
Now don’t hear primitive and turn your nose up…I use primitive in a sense of simple and effective. They like to use the science of tobacco and decades of experience to determine how they want to cure their tobacco before they ship it off to Nicaragua and set it in bundles and pilons to eventually become the leaves we all know in the shape of a cigar or pipe tobacco.
Florida Sun Grown’s approach to curing
The FSG farm and Jeff in relationship with Drew Estate air cure their tobacco in a long, two story, barn. With bundles of fresh leaves coming off of the stalks in the 20 acre farm they get lined up in front of a “sewing” type machine where they stitch the tobacco together and bind it to a stake.
Once the tobacco has been stitched together and put on the stake it gets evenly distributed across the barn in Clermont. Once the tobacco is filled in to the barn and in its best spot they shut the doors to allow it to start curing. With the doors closed and flaps down, the water and grassa (fat) start to burn off. Once the morning sun comes up and the humidity starts to rise they’ll open up the flaps on the barn and allow the humidity to rush back in and turn the dry leaves back into something that resembles a plump leaf again. This cycle happens day in and day out until they product is ready to be boxed up and sent to Nicaragua.
Jonathan Drew: The Story Teller
For a better, more in depth, review of curing at FSG and other barns of Drew Estate tobacco watch the video posted below. its 20 minutes of (mostly) unfiltered JD and his passion for tobacco. The knowledge contained in his mind about the origins/history of the leaves and curing process is worth the watch alone!