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How to roll your own cigars
If you're growing your own tobacco, why not have a go at rolling your own cigars? You don't need a lot of expensive equipment, you can make your own very cheaply. You don't need a lot of skill to roll cigars, you just need to practice.
There are many ways to roll your own cigars. The information on this page tells you how I roll my own cigars. You don't have to follow my methods, but you may find my methods are easier and cheaper than other methods, yet give good quality cigars. Remember, practice makes perfect, so give it a go and keep trying. As a quick tip, don't try doing this job in high winds or indoors, it makes a lot of mess, and after 40 years of marriage I have learnt how to avoid conflict!
The tobacco you use and how you blend it will determine the strength of the cigar. You will need to try a few combinations to find the strength you like. As a rough guide, if you grow the 4 varieties of tobacco seeds I sell in the special offer pack, you can blend them as follows:
You don't have to blend your tobacco exactly the same as I have. This is only a guide based on my experience and my tastes, so experiment and enjoy it.
You will also need a former for the size of the cigar you wish to make. The former is used to retain the shape of the cigars while you dry the tobacco. The easiest way to make a former is to nail strips of timber onto a piece of board. For small cigars, use narrow strips of timber. For larger cigars, use larger strips. Use another piece of the same timber to space the strips.
The multi-story cigar block or former shown on the right measures about 12 inches high by 15 inches wide and about 6 inches deep and holds 120 cigars. It was built to fit inside my oven (see below), so if you want to build a big cigar block, bear the size of your oven in mind. The lower single piece of wood is for smaller cigars, which I cut to length. I have other size blockers for different size cigars. Cigars will round off a little from the square shape when you put the outer wrapper on.
Preparing and Shredding Tobacco
You don't need to shred your tobacco, you can use whole leaves for larger cigars. Gather your leaves and draw them through your hands to remove any folds. This will allow air to pass through the leaves unobstructed.
You now need to prepare your binder leaf. It's preferable to use a Havana leaf for the binders as Havana is thicker and stronger than other leaves. Remove the mid-rib with a knife or a pair of sharp scissors. Keep your binder leaf moist and flexible while doing this to prevent it cracking. If you do not have a large enough leaf due to the size of the cigar then use two leaves.
Rolling Your Cigar
You will need to glue the binder leaf to hold it in place around the shredded tobacco. You could use Tragacanth or Guar Gum if you have them, but as these are relatively expensive and not easy to get hold of, you can use egg white. Spread some glue along one edge of the binder leaf. You won't need any more than that.
Roll the leaf round the filler and place in your former as per the photograph. You don't need to be very neat at this stage as the former will create the cigars shape. Trim off excess leaf at this stage, as it will be very brittle when it has been dried out.
Now put your former into the oven on a moderate heat to dry your cigars. 30 - 45 minutes on a temperature just warm enough to warm plates should be fine.
Wrapping Your Cigar
First trim off the centre rib or stems with a pair of scissors or blade, at all times ensure the leaf is flexible and not dry. Cut out a rectangle and lay this strip diagonally from left to right as in the picture to the right. Ensure the fine ribs in the leaf are vertical (going away from you). The vein ribs are more pronounced on the underside of the leaf, so, have the underside uppermost so the veins are hidden when the cigar is made. This will give a smoother finish to your cigar. Use a small amount of glue (egg white, tragacanth, guar gum etc) along the edge of the wrapper.
Now roll your cigar away from you, leaving an overlap at the left hand edge. Your option now is do you close off the ends or leave them open. Covering the end of the cigar with the leaf can be messy; think, how often do you buy a cigar that needs the end cut away? Not often. The solution is to overlap the ends when putting the wrapper on, and trim off when dry. Only practice will close off the ends of your cigar, I have yet to succeed in producing a finish I am proud of, but then I am rubbish at wrapping a parcel!
The Finished Cigar
Storing Your Cigars
Storage of cigars is normally in cedar wood boxes known as humidors. These can often be picked up second hand from car boot sales or second hand shops. Keep your cigars in your living room. A cigar will improve and mellow over the years. The shop shelf life of a cigar is 7 years, but if your cigars are kept at around 22% humidity, they will keep for many more years.
Problems with Cigars
If your cigars are too dry, store them in the kitchen for a few days to absorb more moisture. This should result in a smoother smoke.
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