Fronto leaf, Maduro, Havana, Shade leaf? It's all whole leaf tobacco and in this article I'll explain the best practices for handling and storage of whole leaf tobacco. In the end I will also provide a link to a handy video tutorial on the handling and storage of whole leaf tobacco.
When you order whole leaf tobacco wholesale by the pound it usually arrives in a bundle of fresh leaves that are somewhat folded up amongst each other. It is shipped it in a plastic bag that has holes poked in it for aeration. The same bag is just fine to use for storage as needed. If you over-wet the leaf just let it dry out a bit before storing in a bag.
In order to fully unravel your fronto leaves from the bundle you will want to lightly spray down the bundle using a cheap water spray bottle from your hardware store. You can also use a moist paper towel to apply moisture to your whole leaf tobacco. Some leaves in the middle of the bundle may still be a little dry in areas. Wetting the fronto leaf is other wise known as reconstituting it... it prepares it for use by bringing the liveliness back to the flesh of the leaf making it pliable and a joy to roll with. My friend compares the tobacco leaf to a sponge, it absorbs moisture nicely and can dry it out, yet it remains ready for use upon re-wetting it. Whatever you do, make sure not to seal your wet leaf in a bag for too long or it may grow mold on it. But it should be okay for short term storage, so you can travel with it or mail it to someone.
Whole leaf tobacco is a value because you can store it for a pretty long time with no degradation. To store it for this long the leaf must be completely dry. As demonstrated in my handy tutorial video (link to video provided in the resource box below), you will notice that when the fronto leaf becomes completely dry it is brittle and breaks apart easily. Mist a dry leaf with water and within 15 or more minutes it will become completely pliable again, as good as new! (in some cases you may need to mist a little bit more, if the leaf was really folded up or into other leaves.) Once it becomes pliable, then you can fold it up and store it in a little ziplock bag or some similar pocket sized type bag.
For long term storage of whole leaf tobacco, make sure it is dry and seal it properly. Store the fronto leaf in a cool, dark and dry place for optimal preservation of quality.
Why do I like whole leaf tobacco and why should you?
The use of Fronto Leaf has been a tradition to West Indian and Caribbean culture as the proper way to roll a cigar. Whole tobacco leaves are the all natural alternative to papers and blunts and commercially produced cigars. Many fine cigar producers of the day are rolling their product up by hand using whole leaf tobacco. Whole leaf tobacco is also unadulterated by the thousands of chemicals that the commercial tobacco companies add to their product.