If smoking marijuana is the king of all consumption methods, eating (i.e., ingesting) marijuana is the queen. Sure, dabbing (the prince in this metaphor) may usurp the throne one day, but for now, smoking and ingesting rule the roost. But before you head to the kitchen to dump your bag of weed into you favorite brownie mix, there are some important points to consider in your quest to learn how to make edibles.
But before you head to the kitchen and dump a bag of weed into your favorite brownie mix, there are some important points to consider. So that’s what we’re going to focus on in this article. Along the way, we’ll discuss:
- What effects you can expect from eating cannabis
- Why you should never dump raw bud into your food
- The importance of decarboxylating your weed first
After that, we’ll show you how to make a cannabis infusion that you can use in any recipe and give you some tips on how to make edibles the honest way.
We’ll also let you in on a few super-secret methods (not really) for bringing you back down to earth should you get too high. Before we get to that, though, let’s start with what you can expect after eating marijuana edibles.
Effects Of Eating Cannabis
In terms of delivery, smoking and ingesting can be thought of, respectively, as the bullet train and the bike of the cannabis consumption world.
Smoking marijuana delivers the THC to your system lickety-split and takes you from normal to high in a matter of minutes or even seconds (like a bullet train). Ingesting marijuana, on the other hand, takes anywhere from 30 minutes to three or more hours to get you where you want to go (like a bike).
Additionally, when compared to smoking marijuana, ingesting your weed results in a much more intense high. To add to the appeal of ingesting, the effects of this delivery method can last from four to six hours (compared to the two to three hours for smoking).
Because of the slow onset time and the potency of ingesting bud, it’s important not to get impatient and eat more in an attempt to speed the process. That will only result in problems down the road when the ganja does finally kick in. Start small and experiment with quantity until you find the right mix that gives you the high you’re looking for.
Don’t Dump Weed Directly Into Your Food
Contrary to what the general public — and many cooking-with-weed novices — assume, marijuana does NOT go directly into the cookies, brownies, or waffles. Like many other things, it requires a bit of processing first.
This is because 1) raw weed is non-psychoactive because the human digestive system can’t process the marijuana plant-matter in a way that delivers the THC to your bloodstream (to get you high) and 2) without preparation, it would just taste bad.
Taken together, ingesting marijuana without first preparing it for cooking can lead to, at best, a bad experience because of the taste and, at worst, complete rejection (a.k.a. vomiting) because of your body’s inability to deal with the plant matter in your stomach (think all the cruciferous vegetables sitting like a rock in your gut).
And to make matters much, much worse, you likely won’t even get high. Bummer.
So what’s an edible enthusiast to do? Give up? Always settle for prepackaged, store-bought pot brownies? Never! The solution to this problem comes in the form of five sexy syllables.
Dry And Cure Your Buds
If you buy your bud from a local dispensary, chances are pretty good that the grower has already dried and cured the plant matter.
If you buy your marijuana fresh-cut from the plant, you’ll need to dry and cure the ganja before mixing up a batch of brownies. Why?
As we mentioned above, raw cannabis doesn’t have the recreational or medicinal kick that dried and cured cannabis has because the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBG, and others) haven’t had the time to develop to their full potential.
Think of drying and curing your cannabis like letting a wine age. It only gets better with time.
When you allow your raw marijuana to dry and cure, the flavors and aromas will be better, the effects will be better, and the overall experience will be better. There is absolutely no downside to drying and curing your weed…except the wait, of course.
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s the difference between drying and curing?” Great question. Here’s the answer.
Drying is, as it sounds, removing large amounts of water from the surface layers of the raw pot plant.
It’s very much like toweling off your body after a dip in the pool. The towel removes water from the surface and the first few layers of your skin but doesn’t affect the moisture at the lower layers.
Basically, drying affects the surface of the flower but doesn’t affect the interior of the flower. To get at those deeper layers you need curing.
Curing is the manipulation of moisture deep within the cannabis flower. The purpose of the whole process is to start, maintain, and control the chemical decomposition while keeping the bud from actually decaying.
Drying removes the bulk of the moisture from the surface layers of the cannabis plant, while curing removes the rest of the moisture from the plant matter.
If drying is like toweling off after a swim, curing is like the aging of a fine wine that we mentioned above. When you allow a freshly mixed wine to sit in a barrel or cask, the fermentation process imparts flavors and smoothness that wouldn’t be there if you just drank it immediately.
The same is true of curing your cannabis. Removing the moisture from deep within the plant allows the flower to develop a full spectrum of flavors, smells, and psychoactive or medicinal effects.
How To Dry And Cure Your Weed For An Edible Recipe
The process of drying and curing your weed is the same whether you intend to use it in a joint, blunt, spliff, bong, oil, or edible. Overall, it’s pretty simple. It just takes time and a bit of environmental manipulation.
First, hang your fresh-cut buds in a space where you can keep the temperature and humidity at a constant level. A closet or spare room is perfect.
The optimal drying environment for your marijuana is 70 degrees Fahrenheit at 50-percent humidity. Depending on where you live, you’ll need extra equipment — an air conditioner, evaporative cooler, dehumidifier, humidifier, or heater — to make this happen.
Once you’ve got the conditions just right, leave the weed hanging for a week or until the buds feel dry to the touch and smaller stems snap instead of bend.
Next, transfer the dry buds to wide-mouth canning jars and cover with a lid. Don’t pack the weed too tight or mold might grow.
Place the sealed jars in a dark space — a cupboard or cabinet — and adjust the temperature to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at between 60 and 65-percent humidity.
Finally, gently shake the jars every few days to move the buds around a bit and then open the lids to exchange old air for new. Store the jars in this way for four to eight weeks.
For a comprehensive guide to this important process, check out our article Drying And Curing Weed | The Complete Guide To Better Buds.
Once your bud has finished curing, it’s time to introduce another sexy five-syllable term: decarboxylate.
Decarboxylate Your Dope
To activate the psychoactive properties in your marijuana, it needs to be prepared through a process called decarboxylation. And in case you didn’t catch it, those are the five sexy syllables we mentioned at the end of the last section (decarboxylate has five syllables…it’s really not a joke if you have to explain it). Anyway…
Decarboxylation is normally achieved by burning during the smoking process (that’s why it’s king). Your stomach can’t decarboxylate the marijuana to release the THC, so you need to do it ahead of time. Thankfully, the process is fairly simple. Here’s a step-by-step guide to decarboxylate your weed.
- Preheat oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit or 115 degrees Celsius. Keep in mind that the boiling point for THC is 314 degrees Fahrenheit and that using temperatures that high can ruin your bud. Oven temperatures can vary quite a bit so if you have access to an oven thermometer, use it to find the true inside temperature.
- Break, tear or grind the weed into small pieces making sure not to overlap on the pan.
- Cook for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to cool.
- Place toasted weed in a food processor and grind until coarse.
For an in-depth guide to decarboxylating your marijuana, take a few minutes to read our article Marijuana Decarboxylation: Why And How To Decarb Your Weed.
So now that you’ve decarboxylated your weed, is it ready to go? Nope. Sorry. There’s one more essential step before you get down to baking.
Grind Your Weed
In the grand scheme of things, this step is optional — you can go right from decarboxylating to creating a cannabis infusion — but grinding your weed makes the end product even better.
Grinding your weed before mixing it in a recipe opens up more surface area and allows the solvent (e.g., butter or oil) to dissolve as many of the trichomes (where the majority of the cannabinoids reside) as possible.
Grinding your weed before cooking also creates another benefit: kief. We’ll talk a bit more about kief in a section below. First, though, here’s how to grind your weed for maximum benefit.
Break your decarboxylated weed into smaller pieces and load it into your grinder. Don’t load anything in the middle of the grinder because this is where everything pivots.
Put the lid on and, with one hand on top and one hand on bottom, rotate the grinder until you feel the resistance disappear.
Before taking the grinder apart again, tap it gently against a hard surface or the palm of your hand. This will dislodge the ground cannabis from the grinding teeth and make it easier to get to.
If you have a four-piece grinder (which you should), it will also push more kief through to the bottom chamber where you can reach it more easily.
Separate the grinder from the collection chamber and scoop out the weed. If you’re using a spoon or other hard scoop, be careful that you don’t puncture the screen that leads into the kief chamber.
Set aside the ground cannabis for the next step.
If you’ve ground up a significant amount of weed in preparation for the baking process, open the bottom chamber of your grinder and see how much kief you’ve collected. This too can be used in your edible recipe.
A Word About Kief
We’ve mentioned kief a number of times throughout this article, but what is it exactly? Kief is the term cannaseurs use to refer to the terpenes and cannabinoids that separate from the trichomes during the grinding process.
Kief is a more pure and potent part of the marijuana plant, which is why it’s prized as an additive in everything from bongs to blunts, vaporizers to vape pens, and hookah to honey oil.
In most situations, the kief stays mixed in with the dried, cured, and decarboxylated herb, so it’s essentially diluted by the plant matter around it. But when you grind your weed before using it, you separate the kief from the plant matter. This results in a 100-percent pure psychoactive or medicinal substance.
You can use this kief in a variety of awesome ways. When it comes to making edibles, you can add the kief to the cannabis infusion (see next section) or sprinkle it directly in with the ingredients for an added kick.
Either way, you’ll get more “bang for your buck” if you include the kief in whatever edible you’re cooking.
That said, we’ve finally reached the part where we can start mixing ingredients in order to bake or make our edible. That involves creating a cannabis infusion that is easy to measure into any recipe that tickles your fancy.
Create A Cannabis Infusion
Scour every recipe you can think of and, chances are, you’ll never find one that includes just “pot” as an ingredient. But a vast majority of recipes for the most common foods include ingredients like butter and oil.
Even if these items aren’t included directly in the mix, they’re often used to process other ingredients (e.g., frying or sauteing). That’s why creating a cannabutter or cannaoil infusion is much more versatile than trying to figure out how to mix marijuana in your favorite cookie recipe. Let’s start with the most useful.
To make your own cannabutter, you’ll need:
- 1 pound unsalted butter
- 2 cups water
- 1 ounce decarboxylated, ground cannabis
- Strainer or sieve
- Plastic wrap
- Bowl for temporary storage
- Storage container for long-term
- Boil the butter and water in a medium or large saucepan until the butter melts.
- Mix in the cannabis
- Simmer the mixture (very little movement in the liquid) for five hours stirring every 90 minutes or so. Do not let the mixture boil.
- You may have to add a bit of water now and again. You don’t want all the water to boil away.
- Line the strainer or sieve with cheesecloth and pour the mixture through into the bowl. You can press on the cheesecloth to extract all the butter into the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours (24 hours is better). The mixture will separate into butter and water.
- Pour off the water and remove the butter to your preferred storage container.
To make your own cannaoil, you’ll need:
- 6 cups olive or canola oil
- 1 ounce decarboxylated, ground cannabis
- Strainer or sieve
- Bowl for processing
- Storage container for long-term
- Heat oil on low until you start to smell the aroma.
- Add a pinch of cannabis (this isn’t an exact amount, just don’t add it all at once) and stir for a few moments.
- Slowly add all cannabis to the oil as above.
- Simmer on low for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Remove infusion from heat and allow it to cool before continuing. You’re going to be interacting with the oil after this so you don’t want it to be hot to the touch.
- Strain the mix through the cheesecloth into the bowl. Press the cheesecloth to extract all the oil.
- Store oil in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Now that you know how to make a cannabutter or cannaoil infusion, let’s discuss a few key points to remember when making your own edibles.
Potency Shouldn’t Be Your First Concern
Remember how we mentioned that the effects of ingesting marijuana are more intense than those felt from smoking? Because of the way that THC is delivered to the bloodstream through ingestion, you don’t need as much weed to achieve a good high.
If the typical joint contains 0.5 grams (500 milligrams) of marijuana, the typical amount for ingestion is 0.001 grams (or 1 milligram). This amount is a good starting point to ensure a pleasant experience. You can increase or decrease the amount later, but for your first foray into cooking with weed, start small and don’t get caught up in the hype. Bigger isn’t always better in this case.
What’s more, too much THC can result in some pretty pronounced negative effects—paranoia, anxiety, nausea, general bad feeling, hangover—so take it easy at the beginning and only increase the amount you cook with when you’ve gone through it a few times.
Get Your Ratios Right
At its heart, cooking is about chemistry, and chemistry only works right when you mix things properly. When cooking with weed, it’s important to get the quantities correct so you don’t overmedicate.
In this case, it’s essential to know the potency of your cannabutter or cannaoil when following a recipe so that your food item doesn’t unintentionally contain too much THC.
For example, if your waffle recipe calls for ¼ cup butter and you just throw in a ¼ cup cannabutter, the THC content will be more than you expect and could result in a bad high. That’s where understanding the potency of your cannabutter or cannaoil comes in.
To get the 0.001 grams you’re shooting for in this particular recipe, you might need to mix ⅛ cup cannabutter with ⅛ cup regular butter. It all depends on the potency. JeffThe420Chef has a great online calculator to help you figure out the potency of your ingredients.
What To Do If You’re “Too High”
As mentioned, ingesting marijuana can cause very intense results and if you don’t get your ratios right, the potency of a consumable may take you “too high”. Should this happen, there are things you can do to mitigate the effects.
- Citric acid can help cut the effects of too much THC so eating (or drinking the juice of) lemons, oranges, or grapefruits can make you feel better.
- Eat some pistachios.
- Eat some pine nuts.
- You can also inhale (don’t ingest!) essential pine oil to help clear your head.
If you get a bad experience with a certain recipe, go back to the drawing board, adjust the ratios, and try again. Remember, when ingesting, less is often better.
Are Edibles Right For You?
There’s no way you’re going to know unless you try. If you’ve done nothing but smoke or dab, maybe it’s time to give edibles a try.
Edibles are certainly more discreet than smoking or dabbing and can be used pretty much anywhere without drawing attention. Sure the results of consuming that brownie may catch someone’s eye, but the act of eating certainly won’t. You can’t say that about smoking or dabbing.
You can often find edibles at your local dispensary so it’s easy to try before jumping in and cooking for yourself. Just remember that you don’t need a 150-milligram brownie to have a great trip. In fact, something like that may give you a bad trip. 1 milligram (or less) to start is plenty.
Once you’ve found out if edibles are right for you, why not try making your own? It can be both fun and rewarding.
For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our 100-percent all-natural marijuana products, visit HonestMarijuana.com today.