Let's say you're digging through the sock drawer one day when you make a startling discovery. Way in the back, lies a brand new Cohiba Cuban cigar. Your mind races and a hazy memory pierces the brain fog. Your best bud had given it to you months ago upon returning from his honeymoon in Cancun. Unfortunately, the drunken celebration that followed this wonderful expression of bromance resulted in a lost treasure.
Now as you eagerly open up the container, you find to your horror, that it has turned into a dried stiff stick. Can anything be done to this hunk of petrified tobacco that might restore it to a shade of its former glory? It's certainly worth a try.
Before you start the cigar rehabilitation realize that this is not a quick fix. Rehydrating a cigar on the cheap is a slow process. Trying to do this too quick may cause the cigar to split like an overcooked wiener. Look, I like instant gratification too. But without some patience you might as well just throw it in the fire pit and let the tears drip into your Rolling Rock.
But if you're game, let's try to rescue that cigar. Get a good quality freezer food storage bag, one that tightly zips shut. Take a piece of new sponge, you can cut a generic rectangle kitchen sponge in half, and wet it. Squeeze out the excess water, making sure it remains damp. Put cigar and sponge in the freezer bag making sure they do not touch. Zip seal it shut and put it out of sight and light. Away from excessive heat or cold.
Now some folks might say that this trick will work using apple or lemon slices. Possibly, but it wll also impart a fruit flavor to your stogie. Do you really want to be smoking a lemony fresh Montecristo? I didn't think so.
After a few days check for signs of life. Open the bag a little and take a good sniff. If the smell is stronger it means then all is not lost. There shouldn't be any puddle of water in the bag. Check the cigar to make sure that it's not getting too much moisture too fast. If you're unsure simply remove the sponge for a day. After a couple more weeks inspect the sponge again. If you detect any signs of mold (another reason not to use fruit), or fuzziness, toss it immediately. You can always replace the sponge with the other clean half.
Remember that shot of patience? You might want to make it a double.
This entire process usually will take 6 to 8 weeks. Essentially, what you are making is the poor man's version of a humidor. Instead of pricy climate controls you are using a little common sense and household objects.
What if after a couple months it just isn't working? Well, it happens. Occasionally, a cigar is just too far gone. Sad, but true. Sometimes the natural oils are completely dried out. Then what? Time to grab that beer and a hankie. I'll see you down by the fire pit.