To freeze your cigars, or not to freeze them? If you or a friend have ever dealt with tobacco beetles, it’s a question you’re probably familiar with. Given the abundance of misconceptions on the topic, CigarAdvisor is here to set the record straight on how and why to freeze cigars.
Let’s start with “why.” Freezing cigars can be either a preventative or curative measure for cigars infested by the aforementioned humidor-marauding tobacco beetle, Lasioderma serricorne. While it’s true that tobacco beetle eggs are present in many cigars, they require a warm, moist environment to hatch. Some suppliers, particularly those of Cuban cigars, are notorious for poor storage or transport conditions, which can trigger an infestation. For this reason, some cigars smokers choose to freeze all incoming cigars as a matter of course, thus killing the eggs before they have a chance to hatch.
Note that if you deal with a reputable supplier and maintain optimal temperature and humidity in your humidor, this is overkill, and places unnecessary stress on your cigars.
If, however, you notice small pinholes in your wrappers and “tobacco dust” in your humidor, then you’ve probably got tobacco beetles. It’s not the end of the world, especially if you catch it early, but the reason it occurred is because your humidor became too warm and moist. You just learned the hard way that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
So now what? First things first: remove the affected cigars, as well as any adjacent cigars you fear may be affected, and quarantine them away from your humidor. Empty and vacuum out the humidor, then reestablish proper conditions not exceeding 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70% Rh.
With the affected cigars, you’ve got a choice: save them, or chuck them. This will largely depend on the quality of the cigars to begin with – is it worth the hassle? – and the extent to which they’ve been chewed through.
If you opt to freeze them, remember that cigars do not respond well to sudden changes in temperature and humidity. In other words, slower is better,but not too slow, because residential refrigerators and freezers are typically very dry, and can easily dry out your cigars if left in for too long. For this reason, it is never recommended to use the freezer or refrigerator for long term cigar storage.
Pack them loosely in zippered plastic bags, ensuring a very tight seal, and place them in the refrigerator for a few hours. Once they’re cool all the way through, put them into the freezer for 24 to 48 hours. After that, place them back into the refrigerator for a day or so to gradually “thaw.” By then, they’ll be perfectly ready to go back into your humidor, but bonus points if you put them in a cooler before returning them to general population.
Even after they’re back in your humidor, it’s advisable to give them another few weeks to recover their humidity before smoking them.