It can also be very rewarding. There are a number of tobacco companies that offer you a choice in a variety of strains. Desirable cigar leaves are from Nicaragua, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Brazil. There are also a number of domestic plants, including a Havana strain.
You will need three grades of tobacco to make that perfect cigar. The lower leaves from the tobacco plant provide the filler. Your upper leaves are the wrapper, and the broadleaves are the binder.
To begin your tobacco rolling experience, you may need a rolling board. It doesn’t have to be a specially made board. A smooth, unused wooden cutting board or wooden tabletop can provide this essential tool. You will also need a pair of sharp scissors, a cigar mold, tragacanth or guar gum, an unused artist’s paintbrush and a rolling pin. You can make a mold with a little ingenuity, but it’s easier to buy one.
Begin by pulling the tobacco filler away from its center rib. It should be lightly shredded when you are finished. Squeeze the filler into bunches and set aside. You are now ready to apply your binder leaf.
Stretch your binder leaf out flat. Smooth it by going over it with a rolling pin. Fold it over and cut out the mid rib. You will now have two tobacco sections. Stretch one of the sections on the table and roll it flat. Lay your filler leaf on the binder.
With your paintbrush, spread some tragacanth or guar gum on the binder leaf before you begin rolling.
Start at a triangular end and roll the binder leaf around the filler. It will be a bit floppy at both ends, but there is no need to worry about it at this time.
The important thing to consider is that the tobacco should be neither brittle nor wet. It should be moist and pliable. When you are rolling, squeeze it a little for tightness, but be careful. This is where expertise comes in. If you roll it too tight, the tobacco will not draw. If it is too loose, it will burn quickly.
When you have finished rolling your cigars, place them in your tobacco mold. Trim off the excess tobacco. Place the mold in a very low-heat oven, no hotter than about 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave for about thirty-five to forty-five minutes.
The last stage of rolling requires the most finesse. Your wrapper is a very thin, fine tobacco leaf. It should be flexible and pressed very flat, never dry or brittle.
Roll it several times, or even use an iron to bring it to the right consistency. Trim off the mid-rib with scissors or a blade. Cut out a rectangular piece.
Make sure the veins in the leaf are vertical; pointing away from you. Since the veins are more pronounced on the underside of the leaf, turn the underside uppermost so the veins will be hidden when the cigar is rolled.
Use a small amount of your glue (tragacanth or guar gum) along the edge of the wrapper. Starting at one edge, begin rolling the cigar away from you, leaving an overlap at the left hand edge. Wait until the cigar is dry before clipping the ends.
Now that you have your rolled cigars, you need to store them for proper curing. Place them in a wooden tobacco box or humidor. Allow them to mellow for at least several months, at about 22% humidity.
The longer they are kept stored without drying out, the more the flavor will improve. The average shelf life for a cigar is seven years, but it can be kept much longer if maintained at the proper humidity. For serious storage, use a humidor.
Also, experiment with different blends in your quest for that perfect flavor.
If you find your tobacco is a little dry, place it in a plastic bag for a while to get the right consistency for rolling. Don’t be surprised if your first cigars don’t draw right and either burn to quickly or will hardly draw at all. Tobacco rolling for cigars is a fine art that requires a lot of practice.