The core backbone method is the most solid workable and easy to reproduce thing there is. I didn’t invent this, I cannot take credit, it was suggested to me, and it is now the way I do things. It can be improved, and experimented with, without a doubt.
The main take away is this : instead of wrapping fresh leaves on a flower core and trying to cure them on the gar, I pre-cure the leaves and then wrap with already cured leaves. Much less frustration and difficulty. Let’s examine, shall we?
Harvesting leaves can happen at any stage of growth, experiment, play around and see what you like. I prefer fresher lighter green leaves taken in flowering stages, right when flush begins but before degradation happens. Thats just me.
What you need :
1) Books (I use unbleached journals – 11 x 17)
2) Fresh Leaves
I started with the theory that pages containing text and ink would not be desirable. I don’t want anything from ink transferring into something I am going to smoke. Next, I went with the idea that unbleached and less refined paper pulp would be preferable to stark white pages. No idea if this is accurate or not, just going with RAW’s philosophy, and so I sought unbleached hemp paper journals. Seemed logical. I’ve been happy so far.
If you put one leaf into a book and come back later – the book is enough to absorb the moisture and dissipate it without damage to the book more often than not. But, if you cram a book completely full of leaves – you may get page swelling, distortion of the paper, and ultimately something you cant re-use.
This is to be expected. Once all the juices are gone and the leaves are in a preserved dry state – you can transfer the leaves into a new clean book, and keep them there as long as you want.
Before processing the leaves – I clean them. I have other posts about washes, and the ways you can play with this are also too many for this blog post. Over all – the wash is the same as a fruit wash when you bring produce home from the store – cleans away residue, dirt, particles, bugs, bacteria, etc. I am not longer trying to remove chlorophyll with my wash. It is simply, a wash.
Once clean, the leaves are laid on a table and strewn across a cloth, allowed to air dry in an environment that maintains at least 50-60% humidity. If you do this in an area where humidity is too low, the edges may crinkle and you may get damage if you don’t time it just right. You can also blot the leaves dry to speed things up a bit and maintain more control if humidity control at a room scale isn’t possible.
I use two book process now after a bit of development. First book – to be mostly destroyed by the juices in the fresh leaves, and to be discarded after the first week or so. The second book, to keep the leaves in permanently until ready to use.
Once you have your leaves in your book, apply pressure. Stack heavy things on top of it. Ensure there is airflow where you keep the book. If there is not airflow, “burp it” every now and then so that mold does not develop.
Then, once the leaves are completely dry, transfer them to the permanent storage books where they can stay for 6 months or more, with no limit to how long you can keep them. Keep them in a humidity controlled area if you want better preservation. This isn’t totally required, but the long term results will be better. Less wrinkle age/shrinkage.
When you are ready to use the leaves. you will need to re-hydrate them. Bovedas can do this, but take a long time to do it. Placing leaves on a cloth, suspended above water in a bin seems to work the fastest. Experimentation with flavor augmentation can be very fun at this stage. You can use fruit rinds like orange peel to re-hydrate leaves, or fruit juice itself. Takes longer, but as you can probably guess, they will have rehydrated themselves with the fruit essence permeating. I find that, these essences don’t always stick, so its up to you to test and determine what is worth your time. Terpene ambience, fruit rinds, etc. I do not recommend applying these liquids directly to the leaves – it is better in an enclosed in a place where the evaporating essence re-hydrates the leaves. Direct application of liquids will tend to ruin the leaves. And, if you are using terpenes, some terpenes are actually solvents.
I encounter so many people still extracting chlorophyll by elaborate laborious processes, and expressing frustration at the complications involved in curing that way – this eliminates most of those problems, and most of that labor.