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Pasteurized snuff?

kjoerupkjoerup Posts: 370
edited November 2009 in General
It is widely understood that Swedish snus contains such miniscule TSNA levels due to the use of air cured tobacco that is subsequently pasteurized during the snus manufacturing process. I was wondering if there are any nasal snuffs that are manufactured using pasteurization. I do know that major snus producer Swedish Match also produces Taxi snuff, but I'm unable to find any information regarding its manufacturing process.

I'm not too hung up on TSNA levels of nasal snuff, but I do find this an interesting thing to think about.

Comments

  • zonesixzonesix Posts: 360
    If you can find if they're fermented at all during the tobacco's curing, then they're not pasteurized, most likely. As my fragile mind understands it, that is the difference between swedish snus and american dip, for all intents and purposes.

    Others here will know more.
  • Taxi snuff is manufactured in South Africa. I can assure you that it's not pasteurized at all. I'm also pretty sure that the guys who make it here has never heard of Pasteur.
  • kjoerupkjoerup Posts: 370
    edited November 2009
    Thanks for the responses. I wonder if anyone has ever attempted to make a pasteurized snuff? I do know that lots of people have made their own snus, but they seem unconcerned with pasteurizing. It's all well and good to grind up a Cuban cigar, but that's not what I'm interested in here.

    With regard to snus, all of the pasteurization information I've read is rather vague. They claim that the tobacco is steam pasteurized, but I've never come across any concrete information on how this is accomplished – and at what stage the pasteurization is performed. Do they first pasteurize whole dried tobacco leaf, or does that stage come later, after the tobacco is ground? And does it matter?

    Why am I even wondering any of this? Just for fun, I thought I'd order some whole (air cured) tobacco leaves from Stoker's and grind my own snuff. I thought it would also be interesting to experiment a bit with some of these leaves and attempt a pasteurized snuff, just to see if it works at all. Of course I have no idea how exactly to steam pasteurize the tobacco in my kitchen without ending up with a ruined, soggy mess. Stove top steamer? Crock Pot? Hmmm. I'm willing to make the sacrifice in the name of snuff science. I'd just really appreciate any suggestions or helpful advice.
  • @kjoerup: I've googled "snuff pasteurizing" and there are lots of info available.
  • JuxtaposerJuxtaposer Posts: 2,892
    I have steamed tobacco in a crock once or twice. It's a good way to cook in flavors. The cure of the leaf, in my opinion, is the more important part regarding TSNA's. In snus making the steaming is done after grinding in order to mix the other ingredients in. Look at snuson.com for recipe's. It seams any tobacco can be used if wanted. I do not think steaming will cause a decrease in TSNA's if that is a question. In fact any heating will more likely increase them. Do carry on experimenting as I yet remain doubtful that simple steaming will affect an already cured tobacco.
  • kjoerupkjoerup Posts: 370
    @Juxtaposer: Yes, you're correct. The curing method is the important part. The tobacco you steamed in the slow cooker: was the leaf green or already cured?

    I found this quote at snus.com:

    "Most Smokeless tobacco products use a curing process that includes fermenting the tobacco to add flavor and character to the product. This fermentation in the curing process uses high heat levels and wood smoke to start fermentation of the tobacco. Swedish snus, on the other hand, is steam cured which uses a lower heat level to cure and flavor the tobacco without the need for smoking. This steam curing keeps the TSNA levels down to between .2 ppm and 12 ppm."


    I also found US Patent 4355648 - Method of curing tobacco here:

    http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/4355648/description.html

    This steam curing method patent was granted to Philip Morris USA in 2000. I wonder how different this process is from the Swedish method?
  • zonesixzonesix Posts: 360
    edited November 2009
    Gothiatek.

    http://www.gothiatek.com/

    EDIT for more info: That's Swedish Match's method for reducing harmful components from tobacco. It would be refreshing to see that from an American tobacco company.
  • JuxtaposerJuxtaposer Posts: 2,892
    edited November 2009
    Curing is the drying of the leaf. No doubt green (fresh) tobacco can also be processed (fermented , steamed etc.). I do not think that fresh tobacco would be suitable for shipping so it is doubtful that it is used in any but the most localized producers. There is a green cure (candela) which is what I did steam. The outcome of which was still green. Air, sun, flue, and fire curing make up most all of tobacco stock used in tobacco products. The further specialized handling of these (fermenting, steaming, aging.etc.) seems to be what is in question. The combinations seem endless. This is the point of view that I have.
  • kjoerupkjoerup Posts: 370
    edited November 2009
    Further research has indicated that the tobacco used in Swedish snus is air-cured, then steam-pasteurized. The steam pasteurization process appears to be key – and it also appears to be a carefully guarded secret. At least it is impossible to find any literature that goes into any useful detail about this essential step. The claim is that the steam lowers the TSNA levels by both inhibiting their growth and in effect "washing the TSNAs away." I know there are other tobacco products out there that have ridiculously low TSNA levels (around 0.1), such as Arriva dissolvable tobacco. Whether or not that is achieved through steam pasteurization is unclear.

    Then again, I'm beginning to wonder if steam pasteurization has anything at all to do with low TSNA levels in snus. It could very well be that the snus manufacturers simply carefully select air-cured tobacco of an already low TSNA count, and that the pasteurization process is merely a mandated preservation technique, like any packaged food requirement. (Snus is, after all, regulated as a packaged food product in Sweden.)

    Again, I'm not hung up on TSNA levels, and the last thing I'd want to do is restart that tired old argument. I just find the entire topic of snuff manufacturing techniques fascinating, and wonder what a steam-pasteurized snuff would be like, or if it would even work at all.
  • xapkenxapken Posts: 284
    RE: and wonder what a steam-pasteurized snuff would be like, or if it would even work at all.

    I'm curious of this also.

    I've been reading up on the pasteurization process used in snus making, and decided to have a try at it... at least in a home-brew perspective. My goal is to take air cured tobacco and mellow it for use either in pipe, snus, or snuff.

    I'm using a kitchen steamer, sort of like a crock pot. Temperature is set to 165 F. Ingredients are tobacco (1 cup), water (1 1/2 cup) and a tablespoon of kosher salt. I preheated the steamer with water, added the salt and stirred until dissolved, then added the ground tobacco. Stirring the tobacco was sort of soupy at first but it quickly absorbed a good bit of the moisture reaching the consistency of a wet brownie dough.

    At three hours in, I opened it and stirred. The aroma was a clean tobacco smell, with a touch of dung freshness. It vented a bit of steam so I added a small amount of water and resealed.

    I'm not sure why it's possible to pasteurize other ingredients in a few minutes, but references to Swedish snus production cites time periods of at least 12 and commonly 24 hours or more. I'm guessing that in a way this process might be more of a low temperature speed curing, perhaps as an alternative to natural sweating/fermentation. I don't think it will ferment in the literal sense (yeast enzymes ? ) because of not having sugars added. On the good side, it shouldn't be hot enough to promote breakdown of natural leaf chemicals into TSNAs, so I don't think I'm adding health risk.
  • xapkenxapken Posts: 284
    Contd. (my apology, it spilled over into 2 posts)

    My plan is to remove half of the mixture from the steamer at 12 hours, and stir in bicarbonate of soda to the half remaining in the pot. From what I've read, if the soda hits with a chemical reaction it should dump a strong ammonia smell if it works.

    I can't find any reference to whether or not the alkaline mixture should be exposed to the heat. I'm guessing it should because the heat moisture keeps the porosity of the leaf open letting the alkaline do it's stuff reacting with acids and raising the ph.

    I'm not sold on the idea of boosting ph to high levels to promote a freebased style nicotine kick. But after other experiments I do know that having tobacco too much on the acidic side really blows the nicotine satisfaction (all my tests with fruit flavorings have smoked like good-tasting flavored paper). I'm shooting for a middle ground.
  • rdunnionrdunnion Posts: 399
    How I understand it is the smoke from the smoke curing contains the TSNA's which is why in contrast the steaming process contains less.
  • xapkenxapken Posts: 284
    I read about them using natural gas for curing also, and the gas exhaust in the curing barns was nasty.
  • rdunnionrdunnion Posts: 399
    I heard about that too. Didn't they cage up a few cows with their backsides to the open barn door and just kept feeding them? Mmmmmmmmmmmm, methane.
  • bigmickbigmick Posts: 1,178
    @kjoerup, you are on the right path. Swedish Match chooses air-cured tobacco , mostly, and then pasteurization lowers the TNSA counts even further. It's actually the combination that allows the low numbers. At least that is what SM told me.
    Another benefit to the pasteurization is flavor blending. The steam forces the tobacco flavors to meld in much the same way as aging or pressure was used in olden times, or even now with some pipe tobacco blends.
    Fire/smoke/flue curing the tobacco does increase the TNSA levels. My understanding is that most snus companies have all but abandoned fire cured tobacco in favor of adding smoke flavoring.
  • xapkenxapken Posts: 284
    Results turned out very promising. The color shifted very dark, somewhere around a pure dark chocolate. The smell of the tobacco became very natural. Texture is nice, coarse grind not clumpy or grainy. Nicotine hit is quite modest, less than I expected. I'm still debating whether to test again using slaked lime (common in snuffs from India) as an alkaline. From what I've seen, the salt itself may balance the ph sufficiently.
  • Tobacco fermented or pasteurized with a salt solution has an acid PH at the end of the process and has a definitely sour smell. You won't get any ammonia from adding the soda unless the tobacco is still hot or you dissolve the soda in hot liquid and immediately stir it in. Some snus recipes call for heat sweating the snuff after adding the alkalizer and some don't. A salt water solution has a PH of 7, which is neutral. Not enough to raise the PH sufficiently in this situation.
  • snuffpubsnuffpub Posts: 75
    Just to reinforce what bigmick wrote, we learned a lot about Swedish Match's steam pasteurization while we were over there. It's really an interesting subject that I think many people are in the dark about.

    Fifty years ago, there was a huge difference between fermentation and pasteurization. Steam pasteurization took minutes, whereas fermentation could take days, months, even years. During this sweating time bacteria (and consequently, TSNAs) would grow and multiply, which is definitely not a desirable quality one would want in non-smoked tobacco.

    But fermentation now has come a long, long way from the days of old. The "cooking" period is about the same either way, the main difference being in the temperature it is cooked at. The results are (in my opinion) indistinguishable from one another in flavor or quality, but steam pasteurized tobacco has a much more stable shelf life than fermented tobacco. (Being that more bacteria is killed at the source, pasteurized tobacco develops less contaminated growth sitting around at room temperature).

    But one of the main reasons it's so hard to find concrete explanations of fermentation is because the term varies so widely by manufacturer and by product. When Jaap Bes talks about fermenting his snuff, he's describing a completely different scenario than a snus manufacturer would. "Fermentation" could also refer to a step in the curing process, or the casing process. Then we have the world of smoked tobacco, which is also full of its own idiosyncrasies regarding the term.

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