Keeping Tobacco Fresh
October 10, 2009 3:14 PM   Subscribe

DIY way to keep tobacco fresh?

Big fan of rolling my own smokes. One problem: tobacco dries out too fast. (Curiously, I never had this problem with British rolling tobacco, but any tobacco I've bought in the US seems to dry out real fast, especially the big tubs, which I've started buying -- pouches run out too fast, and it's a pretty long walk to get more.)

So what's the best way to keep it fresh? American Spirit advertises some kind of disc, but that seems like a waste of money; there must be some DIY way. I've heard apple peel works well, but I rarely buy them, more of a banana guy. Cotton balls soaked in water, too, but that seems to be something else I rarely have lying around.

It seems to me that anything moist should do the trick. True or false?
posted by nostrich to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yeah, apple peels or slices in the pouch and put it in the freezer, just take out how much you plan to smoke each day. /hand-roller as well
posted by mannequito at 3:22 PM on October 10, 2009

For my cigar humidor, I just use a moistened bit of sponge; I imagine that if you did that in a sealed tupperware container it would be about the same.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:03 PM on October 10, 2009

Moist, but not too moist--the nice thing about those clay disc deals (which are a couple bucks at a tobacco shop, and popular among cigar/pipe smokers, who know more than either of us about maintaining the right moisture levels) is that you can either run 'em under water for a minute, or really soak the thing. If you use apple peel or a piece of carrot or something, it's possible (but probably unlikely) that the peel/carrot/whatever can start to mold/mildew, which will turn things ugly real quick. I'd probably stay away from the cotton balls--who knows what they put in those things?
posted by box at 4:06 PM on October 10, 2009

This seems like a stupid question, but I have no shame: the girlfriend likes pears. Any reason a pear peel/slice wouldn't be a reasonable substitute for apple?

This is the first I'm hearing about freezing it, but that makes sense.
posted by nostrich at 4:10 PM on October 10, 2009

Sure, I don't see any reason a pear wouldn't work. All this talk of fruit reminds me of something: whatever kind of fruit you use, it might adulterate the taste of the tobacco slightly. Depending on your preferences, this might be a feature or a bug.
posted by box at 4:31 PM on October 10, 2009

I considered that. As a big fan of hookah, I don't see this being a problem!
posted by nostrich at 4:36 PM on October 10, 2009

The problem with humidifiers for cigar humidors is that cigars are ideally kept about at a somewhat higher humidity than the optimum for RYO tobacco; I have the best luck rolling at right around 50%.

Fortunately for me, my home tends to stay at about 50%, and keeping my tobacco in a tightly sealed ziplock bag works fine. For times when the humidity is lower and the tobacco has been open and gets too dry, putting it in a sealed plastic box (like a tupperware or rubbermaid container) with a bowl of hot water will tend to hydrate it properly within an hour or two. Once it's back to the proper humidity, keeping it sealed as much as possible tends to keep it there without much trouble.
posted by nonliteral at 4:44 PM on October 10, 2009

You can keep pipe tobacco in mason jars. Some people do this so it ferments/ages slightly to get better flavor.
posted by electroboy at 6:51 PM on October 10, 2009

I sometimes put a small lump of damp paper towel or napkin in my tobacco pouch overnight to adjust the moisture level. It can get too moist pretty easily, though, so be careful.
posted by maniactown at 9:33 PM on October 10, 2009

I think a pear slice would be too juicy/slimy. Do you have any old terracotta around that you could break into a suitable sized piece? I imagine a chunk of wet tile would work fine.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:55 PM on October 10, 2009

What has worked well for me... I seal a few days worth in one zip-lock, then put it into a second bag containing a moisture source. (I just use a folded square of paper towel squeezed of excess water)

My theory is that any air that leaks into the tobacco (or herb) bag is humid not dry. No moisture or mold can directly touch the herb.

Take extra care if you put it in the freezer... that air is extremly dry.
posted by ScotsLament at 6:53 AM on October 11, 2009

A bit of orange peel always worked for me. More peel = more humid and vice versa. I sent away for one of those clay disc things once, but the orange peel trick worked better.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:00 AM on October 11, 2009

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