Fighting The Beetles Protecting Your Cigars From Infestation
Your cigar box may be at risk of a secret predator. Many cigar aficionados have been shocked and repulsed at finding their treasured cigars infested with Lasioderma Serricorne, also known as tobacco beetles. This dreaded beetle feeds on your precious cigars. They don't care if your cigars are drugstore mass-market brands, or imported beauties.
What is the tobacco beetle, and where does it come from? The tobacco beetle exits in all countries where tobacco is produced. It thrives on tobacco plants, infesting their leaves before it is processed. Tobacco beetles thrive in hot climates, and especially in the warm countries Caribbean countries where much of the world's tobacco is produced. Tobacco beetles lay larvae that are white and up to 4 mm long. When the larvae hatch, they produce moths that proceed to hungrily eat their way through the tobacco leaves. Unfortunately, the tobacco beetle has been known to survive the process of fermentation and production that is used to make most cigars. Although many countries have made the effort to rid their tobacco crops of this dreaded pest, mostly by spraying crops with gases, the tobacco beetle has proven highly resistant.
If the tobacco beetle survives into the finished product, many cigar enthusiasts may open their cigar boxes to find that their cigars have been eaten through. Sometimes the presence of the tobacco beetle can be detected through the presence of small puncture-like holes on the wrapper. The holes can make an average cigar resemble a flute.
What can you do if you find your cigars infested with the tobacco beetle? Research has shown that your microwave may be your best defense in destroying the tobacco beetle larvae. Before using your microwave, remove and dispose of any infested cigar from your collection. The rest of your cigars can be treated. In order to rid the remaining of your collection of this pest, you should make sure to microwave your cigars together, never individually. Microwave them for about three minutes. After being warmed, immediately place the cigars into the freezer. After freezing them for 24 hours, remove them and allow them to thaw at room temperature. After they have thawed completely, place them in a humidor. This treatment has proven effective in removing the presence of the tobacco beetle. Before removing a cigar from the humidor to be smoked, examine each cigar individually. If the cigar shows no evidence of infestation, it is safe to smoke.
All Styles And Sizes The Basic Types Of Cigars
For the new smoker, the different styles and sizes of cigars can seem mind-boggling. It helps to know that all cigars can be divided into two broad categories: parejos and figurados.
Parejos refers to cigars that are basically straight. They are subdivided into three categories: coronas, panatelas, and lonsdales. Coronas come in a variety of styles and famous brands. They are known as cigars with an 'open foot' (or tip) and a rounded head. Panatelas are generally longer than coronas, are thinner. Lonsdales are also longer than coronas, but are thinner than panatelas.
The second basic category consists of the figurados. Figurados refers to cigars with that are irregular or somehow hand-shaped so that they are not strictly straight. The smallest type of figurados is the belicoso cigars, which are known for a larger foot and a smaller, rounded head. Another basic figurado cigar is the pyramid, which have pointed heads that taper to a large foot. The perfecto is a figurado cigar that is tapered on both the head and foot, with a thinner middle. The largest figurado is the diademas, known as the 'giant' of cigars because it is always eight inches or longer.
Old Vs New Choosing The Right Cigar
Are you confused about old cigars versus fresh cigars? What does this mean, exactly? If you're new to the world of cigar smoking, these terms can be a little perplexing. Basically, know that cigars are never really fresh. That is, you generally can't purchase a cigar just after it has been produced. Most tobacconists store their cigars at the proper temperature and humidity before they are stored. Also, the tobacco in most premium cigars is usually aged for about one to two years before it is rolled into a cigar.
Many smokers prefer old or vintage cigars. Why? Older cigars are not inherently better than newer cigars. This is simply a matter of personal taste and preference. How long can vintage cigars last before they lose flavor and integrity? Cigars that are properly stored at a constant temperature of approximately 70 degrees, and about 70% humidity, can be stored indefinitely.
What happens if an old cigar is not stored properly, and begins to dry out? Although the integrity of the cigar will probably be damaged, it can be restored significantly by re-humidifying it. This process must be done slowly and with great care to restore the cigar's flavor and consistency
How To Properly Age A Cigar
Experienced cigar enthusiasts know well the pleasures of a well-aged cigar. The subtle flavors and complex constitution of a well-aged cigar is indescribably and unforgettable. Like wine, many cigar aficionados swear by the process of aging. A great cigar, the argument goes, is an aged one. How can you attain a well-aged cigar that provides the mellow, complex flavors you crave? You can always fork over a good deal of your money and purchase a box of expensive vintage cigars. If you would rather save the money and experiment with aging on your own, here are a few tips to help you get started.
First, know that you will have to be patient if you want a properly aged cigar. You will have to age your cigars for about a year in order to achieve the flavors and complex subtleties of a well-aged cigar. Also, know that in order to achieve the rewards of a well-aged cigar; you must begin the process with a high quality cigar. If you try to age a lower quality cigar, chances are any amount of aging won't improve their flavor significantly. Many high quality cigars that you find too strong or odorous are perfect candidates for aging. In fact, almost all high quality cigars can be improved through the process of aging.
To age your cigars, purchase a good quality humidor. Cigars must be stored in a constant and stable environment. Follow the 70-70 rules. That means the humidity must be at a constant humidity of 70%, and at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Of course, the environment in which they are stored is crucial. Follow the usual 70-70 rules for temperature and humidity. Any more and your cigars will get moldy; any less and the aging process begins to be stunted. Maintaining a stable environment for your cigars is key - a constantly fluctuation environment can be disastrous. Swings in temperature and humidity cause cigars to expand and contract, cracking their wrappers and it may disrupt the aging process. Ideally, the space in the humidor should be about twice the volume of cigars. The lining should be cedar - cedar wood is highly aromatic wood, full of its own oils. With the passage of time, the interaction of the tobacco oils amongst themselves, and with the cedar oil of the wood it leads to a mellowing and blending of flavors resulting in that subtle complexity you can only get from proper aging.
Choosing The Best Ashtray For Cigar Smoking
Is an ashtray just an ashtray? Unlike regular cigarettes, cigars need their own special space to support their girth and ashes. Many cigar aficionados swear by the pleasures of finding the proper place to hold their cigars and ashes.
So what are the characteristics of a good ashtray? First of course, make sure the ashtray you buy is big enough to hold your cigars. Cigars come in varying sizes, so you will want an ashtray that can accommodate the single of your choice. Next, consider your personal style of smoking. Do you produce a lot of ash? Do you let your cigar rest for extended periods of time? These are all important considerations when choosing your ashtray.
Look for ashtrays made of metal, heavy glass, or ceramics. Ideally, you will want the ashtray to be big enough to hold the ashes for two cigars.
Where can you find the best ashtrays for your cigars? Many cigar aficionados swear by antique ashtrays. Search out flea markets and antique stores for good deals. Tobacco shops, mail order catalogues, and Internet shops are also good places to look.
Cigar Smoking 101
What are the basics of cigar smoking? How do you light a cigar? How do you draw on the cigar properly? Do you inhale? What are the dos and don'ts of cigar smoking? If you have ever pondered any of these questions, read on. Here is a simple and accessible primer designed to help you gain familiarity with the sometimes confusing, always enigmatic world of cigar smoking.
First Step: Lighting Up
First, all new cigar smokers should learn how to properly light a cigar. Use a clipper designed for cigars to clip off the edge of the head (the section you put to your mouth). If possible light the foot of your cigar with a cedar match. Avoid regular cigarette lighters. They produce a nasty odor that can linger and ruin a good cigar. If you must use a lighter, use butane lighter. These will keep the odor to a minimum. However, you should always strive to use a wooden match because lighters can easily taint the foot of your cigar. How do you light up? Simply strike a match and hold the edge of your cigar over the flame. Avoid touching the cigar to the fire, simply hold the cigar over the flame and draw deeply until the cigar is lit.
Second Step: Burn it down to a nub?
Should you burn your cigar down to a nub? Experts recommend you leave at least two inches to your cigar. Even the finest cigars will tend to get bitter if you let it burn all the way down. What about ashes? Should you knock the ashes off of your cigar? Rather than knocking the ashes off the edge, let the cigar rest in the ashtray when you're not smoking it. The ashes will fall off naturally.
Third Step: Relax and Enjoy
A cigar should never be rushed. By design, cigars should be savored, preferably after dinner and with a glass of good brandy. Hold the cigar between your thumb and fingers
A Short History Of Cigars And Tobacco
Have you ever wondered where cigars were first produced? It is widely believed that cigars were first produced in Spain. But before cigars became all the rage in Europe, tobacco was needed to make them. Tobacco is indigenous to the Americas, where native peoples have produced it for hundreds of years. It is believed that the Maya of Yucatan peninsula in Mexico and parts of Central America cultivated tobacco, and even smoked it! Tobacco use spread to other tribes, both north and south. It is believed that its first use in the United States was probably among the tribe along the Mississippi. It wasn't until Christopher Columbus sailed his famous voyage to the Americas in 1492 that the rest of the world came to know tobacco.
It is said that Columbus was not impressed by tobacco or its use among native peoples, but many sailors grew found of the strange plant. Soon it quickly caught on in Spain and Portugal. From there, it spread to France, where the French ambassador Jean Nicot lent his name to the scientific name for tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). The origins of the word tobacco itself are still suspect, although many believe it is simply a corruption of the word Tobago, which is the name of a Caribbean island. Still others believe it comes from the word Tabasco, a region (and now state) in Mexico.
The first tobacco plantation in the United States was established in Virginia in 1612. More tobacco plantations followed in Maryland soon after. Although tobacco became a popular crop, it was only smoked in pipes. The cigar was not introduced to the United States until the late 18th century. Israel Putnam, an army general who had served in the Revolutionary War, is credited with introducing the cigar to the United States. He had traveled to Cuba after the Revolutionary War and returned with a box of Cuban cigars. Their popularity quickly spread, and soon enough cigar factories were established in the area of Harford, Connecticut, where General Putnam resided.
In Europe, cigar production and consumption did not achieve widespread popularity until after the Peninsula War in the early 19th century. British and French veterans returned to their homelands after years of serving in Spain with their tobacco pipes in tow. Among the rich and fashionable, the favored method of taking tobacco was the cigar. Cigar smoking remains a habit associated with the rich and discriminating of upper society.
Making The Perfect Cut On Your Cigar
How to clip a cigar properly? Although every cigar aficionado has their own proven method, here are some basic guidelines to get you started.
First, examine the head, or closed end, of the cigar. This is the part of the cigar that will need to be clipped. Determine where the 'cap' is. The cap refers to the part of the cigar where the tobacco leaf was used to close the cigar. Once you've found the cap, determine its length. As a general rule, you should not cut any further than the end of the cap. If you cut further than the cap, there's a good chance your cigar will unravel!
Use a good quality clipper to cut the head at the cap. You don't want a cheap cutter that will result in frayed or split cuts. You can purchase a special cigar cutter at your local tobacco shop that is designed to make clean cuts. Once you have your cutter, hold your cigar at eye level and make a fast and decisive cut just above the cap. Less is more when cutting
4 Tips For Lighting A Cigar
For new smokers, lighting a cigar can seem as daunting as learning to choose a good single. Here are four tips to guide you in lighting a cigar for the first time.
1. Use cedar matches, if possible. If you prefer to use a lighter, make sure it's butane lighter to avoid strong odors.
2. Warm the open end of the cigar (aka 'the foot' of the cigar) slowly over the flame, without touching it to the fire. Let a black ring form around the end.
3. Place the cigar in your mouth and draw in slowly. Hold the cigar over the flame, about half an inch above it, again without touching. Continue to draw in until the cigar draws the flame. Turn the cigar slowly, spinning it to establish an even burn.
4. Once your cigar is lit, take it out of your mouth and observe the burn you have established. If the burn appears to be uneven, simply blow on the unlit sections to draw the burn, and then take one or two draws from the cigar to reestablish an even burn.
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