Freezing Your Cigars – How Risky is it?

Gary-Korb-CigarAdvisorOver the years, I’ve received many emails asking me about freezing cigars and whether it’s OK to store cigars in the freezer or the refrigerator. Let’s start with the latter. NO WAY JOSÉ! True, refrigerators are made to keep foods fresh, but even though cigars are somewhat related to veggies by their nature, the humidity in the fridge is much too low to keep the leaves moist, and your cigars will eventually dry out.

So what about the freezer? Now that’s a different story. Though I’m really not a fan of storing cigars in the freezer, which I’ll get to in a moment, I feel there are only two reasons that warrant putting premium cigars, or machine made cigars like Backwoods in the freezer:

  1. You’ve discovered that some of your cigars have beetle holes and are most likely infested.
  2. You have absolutely no space for your overstock cigars, and it may be a while before you get around to smoking them.

The first reason is the most common, because if you find that you do have a beetle problem, the only way to kill the larvae is to freeze them. Many cigar smokers will keep their infested cigars in the freezer for a full 24 hours, but it only takes an hour or two to ensure the larvae will kick the bucket.

The second reason is questionable, because if you run out of storage space there are better solutions than exposing your cigars to icy-cold temperatures. Maybe it’s just irrational paranoia, but though the risk of ruining your cigars by freezing them is low, I can’t help but think that, by doing so, their character is somehow altered. (I’ll leave it to those who post comments to either confirm or deny my suspicion.)

The best solution is to make yourself a “coolerdor” or “Tupperdor;” in other words, a large beer cooler or plastic storage bin with a good seal in which you can also put a humidifier. You can even keep your cigars in their boxes. Actually, you should keep them in their boxes. This will mimic warehouse conditions.

freezing cigars tobacco beetles

Tobacco beetle infestation can be prevented by freezing cigars

So what if you decide freezing cigars is your best option? Fine, but getting them back to out-of-the-box-fresh condition depends on how you thaw them. Like many things that have to do with the care and feeding of your cigars, patience is a virtue. Don’t just take them out of the freezer and let them thaw as you would a steak. And whatever you do, DO NOT DEFROST THEM IN THE MICROWAVE. That’s instant death. Since cigars don’t freeze as solidly as meat, the fillers will dry-out from the inside, and there’s no turning back.

Here’s the deal: When you’re ready to thaw your cigars, move them from the freezer to the fridge where they will thaw SLOWLY. This should take about 24 hours. Since they’ve been frozen, there’s no risk of them drying-out within that time frame. After they’ve thawed in the fridge, place them in a cool, dark space and let them sit for one more day out of the humidor. By day three they should be humidor-ready again. Let them settle back in for a couple of more days, and by then they should be good-to-go.