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Old 01-12-2009, 09:43 PM   #1
SilverFox
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Default How to Freeze and the Science behind it. Long Post

There will be constant discussion around whether or not to freeze your cigars and whether it impacts flavor or not. If the risk of potential damage in the form of burst wrappers, loss of flavor, or drying out is worth taking a risk on having cigar beetles. I have enclosed a couple of the more extreme versions of what happens to cigars after these critters get to them. It can happen in both Cuban and Non-Cuban varieties.

I have had 1st hand experience with cigar beetles on two occasions costing me several fine sticks (ok 4 cigars, but in my mind that is several) and while in the second case the vendor took care of me I have since decided that the money, time, and effor that I put into this hobby in all forms is worth the time to handle incoming inventory properly. As such I have spent considerable time researching the various aspects of cigar beetles and how to kill them.

One of the first things to understand is that although many producers including cubans may flash freeze their cigars that is only one poin on the stop to your humidor. Also cigars are very insulative and given that we do not fully know the quality control of the producer there is risk that eggs are not killed. In addition there are points along the way that beetles can be introduced, secondary wholesaler, vendor, or sadly that fellow BOTL or SOTL that so kindly bombed you are sold you a few sticks. So prevention in my mind is the key.

I have adopted a 100% freeze policy, that means that every stick that enters my house is frozen before being tranferred to my humidors regardless of where they come from or how they are shipped and regardless of outside weather. After two infestations I have never had one single case.

The are many opinions around how long it takes to kill the various stages of beetles. I have read many different forums and finally started searching for research rather than word of mouth. After reading several similar studies with varying degrees of testing and information I settled on one that I felt was most comprehensive for a Cigar Smokers needs.

The study is

Low-temperature as an alternative to fumigation to disinfest stored tobacco of the cigarette beetle, Lasioderma serricorne (F.) (Coleoptera: Anobiidae)

Completed and submitted on April 2005 revised October 2005 as undertaken at the Leaf Tobacco Research Center, Japan Tobacco Inc.

If you want to read it I have it in pdf it is a bit of a dry read but for me it was interesting.

One other thing I did was check the average temperature of my freezer. If you don't have a thermometer I have looked and found that the average temperature of a household freezer is between -12 and -18 degrees Celsius and if you go with the higher temp and work from there there is little risk.

Many people will tell you that the freezing will ruin the taste of the cigars. I have my opinion and that is there is no discernable difference. In addition I have bombed, gifted, traded, sold several hundred cigars to members of this board and others and not one has told me that the cigar tasted like it was "frozen" opinions will vary on this but there is little if any imperical evidence either way.

Last peice before I lay out the process is one excerpt from the white paper, and that is the mortality table for all stages of cigar beetles and various temperatures.

Egg

-20 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 1 hr
-15 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 4 hr
-10 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 12 hr
-5 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 48 hr
0 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 240 hr
5 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 336 hr


Larval

-20 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 1 hr
-15 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 3 hr
-10 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 12 hr
-5 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 96 hr
0 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 288 hr
5 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 336 hr

Acclimated Larval (acclimated at 15 Celsius for 3 months to determine acclimation impact if any)

-20 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 1 hr
-15 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 6 hr
-10 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 24 hr
-5 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 504 hr
0 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 1176 hr
5 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 1680 hr

Pupal

-20 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 1 hr
-15 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 4 hr
-10 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 48 hr
-5 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 288 hr
0 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 840 hr


Adult

-20 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 1 hr
-15 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 2 hr
-10 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 2 hr
-5 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 72 hr
0 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 288 hr
5 degrees C Time to 100% mortality 840 hr


This information is the information I used to determine my process.

Given the insulative properties of a box of cigars I deduced (ok fully guessed) that doubling the time would be sufficient to bring the cigars to the appropriate temperature for the appropriate time. It is important to remember that this was direct exposure to these temperatures for the bugs not nestled into a box of your favorite sticks.

The following is my process based on what I have read and adjusted from the above and others.

1. I vacumm seal my cigars in freezer grade bags ( I use a food saver food vacuum for boxes but be cautious it can crush a spanish cedar box easily) or a straw and lung power for singles. While some folk double bag if you are using food quality freezer grade I don't see a need for this.

2. I then put the cigars in the fridge to slowly lower the temperature closer to the freezing point to prevent possible wrapper bursting from rapid freeze, I also assume (again a guess) that it is gentler on the cigars. I leave them there for 12 hours.

3. I then move the cigars to the freezer where they will stay for 48 hours this ensures that the temperature is reached and any potential bugs are more than dead.

4. The cigars then go back to the fridge to allow for a little slower thaw, this is done for between 12-24 hours.

5. I then remove the cigars from the fridge and keep them in the back and allow them to come up to room temperature (3-5 hours)

6. Out of the bag and back in the humidor where they will rest for a couple of weeks to acclimate to the RH% that I like as would any stick from a vendor.

Here are a couple of pictures of beetles and the damage that they can cause.


Pupal Adult and Larval




What used to be some beautiful Cubans




What used to be some beautiful Non Cubans



The dust beside is what you will see if you suspect beetles and tap your cigar on white paper, the dust is beetle dung.








I have tried to cover most everything I could think of and provide some background information, if something is unclear or you have questions please feel free to PM me.

Hope you found this useful.
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