Cannabis and Cooking
While you can buy cannabis edibles at approved medical marijuana dispensaries, you can also cook with marijuana in your own home to create some wonderful edibles. To do so, you’ll need to learn some basics about cooking with cannabis. For those who want to use cannabis medically, eating can be a great way to get the health benefits of marijuana without smoking it. Of course, eating cannabis-infused foods can be a great way to get the “high” of marijuana for recreational users as well because it offers a more grounded and longer-lasting buzz than smoking alone. Whatever your reason, here is a thorough guide to cannabis and cooking.
The Science of Cannabis and Cooking
The active ingredient in cannabis, THC, is activated by heat, so you actually have to cook it to be able to get the effects when eating cannabis. Just munching down on some raw buds isn’t going to do anything, and will probably taste not very good. Making marijuana tea also won’t work because THC only dissolves in fats like oil or butter. This means that the only method to be able to digest THC from cannabis is to cook the plant matter in a fat, and then use that fat in some other recipe. We call this process cannabis extraction.
The way you unlock THC via heat is called decarboxylation, and when you perform this simple chemical process, you get more of the active ingredients in cannabis and a more potent edible cannabis product. Cannabis contains chemicals called cannabinoid acids, or CBDA and THCA, which convert to the active compounds CBD and THC when you “decarb” them. To decarb your cannabis before cooking, simply preheat your oven to 240 degrees F. Break up your cannabis buds and flowers into small pieces and place on a baking sheet that has a rim around it. Then simply bake the cannabis for 30 to 40 minutes. Give it a stir every 10 minutes so that it toasts evenly to a darker color. Allow it to cool, and you can break it down a bit more in a food processor before storing in an airtight container. You can then use this ground cannabis in your extractions or even toss it into a sauce like any other herb.
How to make simple cannabis extractions
There are lots of different ways of getting that THC into a fat, some of which are best left to the experts, but many of which you can do at home yourself. Let’s look at some of the easiest cannabis extraction methods out there. In general, remember to use low heat for a long period so you preserve the active ingredients.
Cannabutter (or cannabis butter) – Use 1 pound of unsalted butter and 1 cup of water. Add these to a sauce pan and simmer on medium-low until butter is melted. Add 1 ounce of ground cannabis and stir. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours, never boiling. Pour your butter through cheesecloth or fine strainer into a glass container, then cover and put in the refrigerator overnight. While it cools, the butter and the water will separate, and you can simply peel the hardened cannabutter from the surface of the water.
Marijuana Ghee – This is a type of butter that has been clarified or cooked down to a different state than traditional butter. Before you add your cannabis, you need to make your ghee by boiling butter. As it bubbles, a pale yellow or white froth will appear on the surface. Skim this off and discard. Continue this process until you have clear ghee. Cool, and you’re done. To infuse your ghee with cannabis, simply simmer the ghee with ground cannabis for one to two hours, then strain and cool.
Cannabis and Cooking Oil – The best method is to use a double boiler. Add 28 ounces of canola or extra virgin olive oil, whichever you use for cooking. Warm the oil until it is almost simmering, but not boiling. Then add your ground cannabis, one ounce. Stir more frequently than with the butter, and make sure it doesn’t get too hot. Heat for one hour, and allow the cannabis to soak for two hours. Strain and store in an airtight container.
Cannabis Infused Coconut Oil – This is a great extraction for making topical products as well as edibles, as coconut oil is very moisturizing to the skin. The easiest way to make cannabis coconut oil is in a slow cooker. Simply add 1 cup unrefined coconut oil and one to three ounces of ground, decarboxylated cannabis. You can add water as well to float the coconut oil. Turn the slow cooker on high and melt the coconut oil before adding your cannabis. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature, and when it reaches 250 degrees, turn the slow cooker down to low and stir. Keep the temperature around 250 degrees by turning the slow cooker to warm every once in awhile, and allow the mixture to infuse for 8-12 hours, adding water as needed. When it is done, strain and allow to cool in the refrigerator. When it’s done, peel the hardened coconut oil off the water and store.
Potency of Cannabis Edibles
One of the hardest things to control when cannabis and cooking is the potency. When you buy a cannabis edible product from an accredited medical marijuana dispensary, they have the milligrams of THC printed right there on the product, so you know how much you are consuming and can plan accordingly. When cooking at home, you need to understand the potency of your DIY edible so you don’t end up getting too high of a dose. Most of these products are 10 mg of THC per serving, which is the equivalent of one teaspoon of cannabis oil or butter.
Dosage of Cannabis
To know the THC dosage of your edibles, you should also understand the THC content of your marijuana. Most legal dispensaries will label their buds with a percentage of THC. Usually, cannabis strains have between 15% and 20% THC, and anything over 20% is considered really strong. If you don’t know the percentage, assume it’s on the lower side at 10%. This makes your math easier, as 1000 milligrams of plant material would yield 100 milligrams, or ten servings, of THC. To get your dosage, weigh your ground up cannabis plant material and go from there.
When you’ve finished your edible cannabis creations, you want to make sure they’re correctly preserved. This means the best packaging out there, pouches and bags that are light-proof and waterproof. Even if you’re not selling your cannabis edibles, you can use this professional packaging to preserve the effects. Check out potpackaging.com or greenrushpackaging.com for the best in edible cannabis packaging.