Tobacco fermentation process
The second process that tobacco undergoes after harvest is fermentation. At this stage, the biochemical and physical properties of tobacco are altered by enzymatic transformations that eliminate ammonia compounds, responsible for the flavor and acidity of smoke, and destroy harmful bacteria, microorganisms and molds, present in tobacco.
Fermentation is a natural process that is vital
for the cigar industry, since it improves the quality of the tobacco and constitutes
a guarantee of its adequate texture. A fermentation carried out under the
appropriate conditions ensures the producer that he will obtain a high-quality
tobacco, with the characteristic color, aroma and flavor of a given variety.
This is possible because it is precisely in this process when one or more
flavoring agents (vanilla, whiskey, chocolate, sugar and many more) are included
so that the leaf absorbs the fragrance of the added substance and integrates it
in the subsequent development of its own scent.
Fermentation in pylons:
It consists of gathering the leaves in large piles wrapped with burlap, the temperature of which increases as the perspiration of the leaves accumulates. Although the process is constantly monitored, it is carried out in environments whose temperatures naturally oscillate between 93.2 °F and 105.8 °F and a relative humidity greater than 85%. The duration of the fermentation depends on the humidity with which the pylon was formed and on the behavior of humidity and ambient temperature, but it is only considered completed when a period of no less than 30 days has elapsed.
As it is possible to realize, these
temperatures are typical of countries with hot climates, which makes their
application in other places difficult. However, when the process is carried out
under optimal conditions, it is possible to obtain a tobacco of uniform color
and with exceptional flavor and aroma.
Fermentation in a controlled environment or accelerated fermentation chambers:
It is used in order to automatically regulate the temperature and humidity conditions at which fermentation takes place. In this way, it is possible to control that they are exactly those required in order to achieve a successful process in a much shorter period of time, although the exact time will depend on the humidity of the leaves at the time of packaging and their distribution within the chamber.
Thanks to this method, it is possible to carry out the process anywhere, regardless of its climatic conditions and, because the time is shortened, the profitability of the product obtained is increased.