Casa de Tabaco
A curing barn, or curing shed. Casa de tabacos (see photo) are constructed in or very near tobacco fields and are essential to the harvest. After cigar tobacco is taken from the fields, it is brought into the casa de tabaco and hung to dry. The leaves are typically hung on wooden poles known as lathes or cujes, but occasionally are simply draped on strings, also called sartas.
The tobacco remains in a casa de tabaco for around 45 days while it turns from green to brown, but the length of time depends upon the temperature and humidity, and can vary from season to season. During the time it spends in the barn cigar tobacco cures, changing from green to yellow to brown, in a process known as curing. Water moves in and out of the plant during this time, gradually drying the leaf. After curing, the tobacco is taken from the barns for fermentation in pilones or bales.
Certain advanced barns, known as calfrisas, speed the process. In the candela curing process, very high temperatures are used to lock the green color in the leaf. While cigar tobacco is technically air cured, small charcoal or propane gas fires are occasionally used to fight cool temperatures or to lower humidity.
Photo by David Savona