If you’ve ever had the misfortune to be near someone who is smoking a stale cigar — or, even worse, smoked one yourself — you know that it’s one of the least pleasant experiences you can have. Good cigars are a pleasure and can be an investment. It’s worth a little extra effort to keep them fresh longer. While the most obvious way to keep cigars fresh is to invest in a humidor, it’s not always possible — humidors are expensive and can take up space you may not have. Fortunately, there are other steps you can take to keep your cigars fresh longer.
Stay away from the fridge! While some cigar smokers will tell you to store your cigars in the fridge, this should be avoided! The cool, dry air in the refrigerator will dry your cigars out in no time — and that’s the opposite of what you want. Cigars will also absorb the flavor of the things around them (and impart their flavor to other things) so storing them alongside last night’s marinara or tomorrow’s vanilla yogurt is not a good call. Don’t put them in the freezer, either — it will dry them out even faster than the fridge will.
Rotate them. Rotating your cigars regularly ensures that each cigar gets a chance to be optimally humidified. Move the cigars that are closest to the humidification device to the back and bring the back ones up front.
Zip ‘em up. One of the simplest ways to keep cigars fresh if you don’t have a humidor is to place a few cigars in a ziptop freezer bag with a damp sponge or paper towel. Then seal it tightly. The sponge or paper towel will add humidity, and the airtight seal will lock it in. If you plan on storing your cigars for a while, check periodically to make sure the sponge or towel hasn’t dried out. If it has, remoisten it and replace it in the bag
Break out the Tupperware. A basic Tupperware container can become a temporary humidor tool. Find a container the right size with a tight-fitting lid. Place your cigars in the container, along with a moist sponge. Be sure to use distilled water for this method — it helps prevent mold growth on the sponge. Also be sure to wring the sponge out well so water doesn’t collect in the container. As with the freezer bag method, check your cigars periodically to make sure the sponge hasn’t gone dry.
Don’t mix flavors. If you like flavored cigars, you’ll want to store each flavor separately. Since cigars absorb the flavor of whatever they’re next to, a single vanilla or cherry cigar can lend its flavor to the rest of the cigars it’s stored near. No matter what method of storage you choose, keeping the flavors separate helps ensure that you get exactly the taste you want when you’re ready to enjoy a smoke.
Unwrap them. It may seem counterintuitive, but before you store your cigars it’s best to remove the cellophane wrapper. Doing so allows the cigar to really absorb the humidity. One caveat: If you’re going to be traveling with your cigars, consider leaving the cellophane on. This helps protect the cigars from damage in transit
Invest in a humidification pouch. These pouches, which self-regulate, take the ziptop bag method up a notch. Humidification pouches have a porous skin and release humidity through it at regular intervals. Place one in a ziptop bag with your cigars, and you’ve got reliable humidity and don’t have to keep checking on a sponge.
Turn your cooler into a humidor. Really. You can take a standard cooler — the kind you take to the beach — and turn it into a humidor. Start with a new cooler if possible — that will keep any lingering odors of last week’s picnic from seeping into your smokes. The easiest way to create a “coolidor” is to place a wet sponge in the cooler with your cigars. Then remember to check the sponge periodically. If you want to go a little higher-tech, you can invest in a humidification device, distilled water, and a hydrometer to create a humidification system that needs very little maintenance or intervention.