I took my Balkan recipe to the next level by making a press tool so I can create a flake.
I've thought about doing this over the years.
I made a wooden box for pressing flake. Let it sit for a few days, opened it and it was covered with mold. I contacted Craig Tarler at C&D (this was back in 2008 I think) and asked him what they did to prevent the same thing happening. He mentioned a mold-preventing chemical that they used. He sent me a tin of it. Though I never used it I wish I had written down the name of the chemical and the dose; I'd send you some if I had kept the information.
Pipe smokers den has a thread on the subject. There are some great posts from Ernie at watch city cigars on blending and infusing.
I wrote a lot of words, then lost them. I'm going to be brief this time. I picked up a Rosineer 1.5" x 1.5" pre-press form to make plugs, it holds about 1 oz. of tobacco. I pressed 27 grams of 2021 C&D Carolina Red Flake + Perique for 6 days, tightening the large c-clamp each day and applying some heat with a hair straightener that I use to seal Mylar bags several times. I was surprised at how black the top and bottom are and how compressed the plug is. I've put it in a small Mylar bag to rest for several weeks before I try it.
I've got a blend in the press this week and I've worked out how I'm going to use the hair straightener to add heat to the press. I've decided that the one or two times a day I go to put the screws to the tobacco by tightening down the c-clamp, I'll first clamp on the hair straightener and heat up the press and tobacco first. I figure that this application of heat before the increase in pressure will further help compress the tobacco and meld it together.
The working title of this for now is the kitchen sink blend #1 since I used most of the blending components I had on hand. It's a Va/Bur/Per English, I think. I'm interested to find out if the vinegar BBQ notes from the large addition of the stoved Virginia will overwhelm this blend.
Chris, I just ran across about 3/4 lb. of ribbon-cut Turkish tobacco. It is yours if you deem the flavor profile desirable.
I just took my Va/Bur/Per KS#1 (Kitchen Sink) plug out of the press. It was stuck, had to use a couple of clamps and a rubber mallet to get it out. I rubbed out the chunk that came loose and smoked it in my clay pipe. Not sure, not very strong, perique isn't very noticeable and I was expecting more flavor from the stoved VA. May have to add more next time and rehydrate the prelip a bit first, but this will probably improve with age and taste different with a full bowl instead of tiny scraps. I don't think I'll crank down quite as hard next time to make it easier to remove. I only pressed half the batch so the plug started at 30 grams and ended up being a larger plug than the CRF+P I pressed earlier.
Not smoking on a fresh palate right now and the clay is giving a dry flavor to the small bowl but I'm getting more flavor and perique as I smoke down the tiny bowl.
I tasted my Va/Bur/Per a bit ago and didn't get much perique so I reblended the half that hadn't been pressed by doubling down on the perique. I'm rehydrating the tobacco before I heat it up in the microwave for about 30 seconds and put it in the press for round two. I'm also rehydrating the Macedonian Prelip leaf pieces while I've got the blending tobaccos out and I'm thinking about it. I rehydrate tobacco by putting it in a bowl and covering it with a wrung out (so it doesn't drip) paper towel or two, doing a few cycles with redampening the towels until I feel that it's done.
Pressing matters called me to the workbench this morning.
The ~30 grams of tobacco bend has been rehydrated and microwaved for 20 seconds and is being fed into a warmed up press, pressed and filled several times to maximize the size of the plug. I'm not sure that I can fit it all in this morning.
I got all that tobacco to fit in the press after may iterations of pressing and heating, I didn't think it would all fit.
Pulled out the plug after 6 days in the press, heating and tightening each day. The plug was hard to remove again and when I cut off a flake the edge crumbled, I think because heating the press dried out the edges. Smoking now in my AKB Dublin Lattice Meer, the plug will go to rest for a while before trying again. This is the second iteration of this blend where I doubled down on the perique to give it some spice. I'm getting a pleasant tingle in the nose from this. The added perique really improved this blend.
Made a plug from C&D Red Carpet. Gonna attempt something with blending tobacco next.
Nice, I've been thinking about getting flakey now that I'm back from The Excellent Herf. Do you want to split some whole leaf perique? I'm not sure that the Sutliff TS-20 is cutting it for me in my blends.
Sure! I only have a small amout of C&D long cut perique right now. Do you need some blackend burley? Think I got the last bag of YANA-2 from Ken. Somewhere around here I have some PS Toasted Burley as well.