Top 5 Mistakes When Cooking with Cannabis
As marijuana laws continue to evolve across the U.S., cooking with cannabis is becoming an increasingly popular activity among medical marijuana patients and recreational users alike. It allows for a simple and potent marijuana delivery system without a single puff of smoke.
If you’re new to the unique complexities of culinary cannabis, you’ll want to avoid some of the common cooking mistakes—lest you waste perfectly good flower on an unintended kitchen disaster.
1. Not Decarboxylating the Cannabis
The Problem: You can’t cook raw cannabis. Not only does it taste terrible, but it has no active THC. Raw cannabis contains THC-acid, but the acid requires heat to be converted into bioavailable THC.
Decarboxylation makes this process possible. Some users skip decarboxylation before making butter because the infusion process automatically heats and activates the cannabis—to an extent. If you want to get the maximum THC extraction, though, and experience the maximum potency, you should always decarboxylate before cooking up your infusion.
The Solution: There are multiple ways to decarboxylate your cannabis prior to cooking. For best results, grind up your THC (see mistake #2 below) over a cooking sheet and roast it in the oven. One hour at 230 degrees Fahrenheit should do the trick.
The Problem: A quality hand grinder makes it easy to break down your bud before cooking. This is an essential part of the cooking process, but some people go a bit overboard with the grinding.
Contrary to popular myth, grinding your cannabis into powder will not increase the amount of THC or improve your high. It just means that more of the plant material gets into your recipe, giving it a much more bitter taste.
The Solution: When using your hand grinder to break up your cannabis, be mindful of the consistency. You want the finished product to look similar to dried oregano, not powder. Those hairs and stems contain a lot of the THC, so you want to preserve them as much as possible.
3. Using Too Much Cannabis When Cooking With Marijuana
The Problem: Make sure you’re not using too much medical cannabis in your recipes to avoid getting too strong of a high. Just because you’re used to smoking a certain strain or volume of cannabis doesn’t mean that you can comfortably eat the same amount. Edibles take more time to ramp up, and while it would be near impossible to overdose on marijuana, too much of it can definitely cause you to have a bad experience.
On the contrary, marijuana edibles have a completely different delivery system. The THC is absorbed through the bloodstream rather than the respiratory system, which means the drug takes longer to work but has a much more potent effect.
The Solution: Finding the right concentration takes practice. For starters, think conservatively. Less is more. When cooking cannabis butter, start by mixing ¼ oz. bud with a pound of butter. Use cannabis with about 15% THC (see the full recipe below). Before mixing the butter into any other recipes, taste it to test the potency. Once you know firsthand how strong it is, you’ll have a better idea of how liberal or conservative to be with the butter.
4. Infusing Cannabutter Without Water
The Problem: When cooking cannabis butter, some people just mix the butter with the marijuana and neglect to add water to the saucepan. While it is possible to get a quality infusion without water, it’s not a good idea to try.
Water keeps the temperature down and helps prevent the butter from burning. Burnt cannabis butter tastes terrible and has no potency since THC starts to degrade at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 degrees Celsius). Water also washes out any unwanted green coloration and prevents the product from having an herbal flavor.
The Solution: When cooking your cannabis butter, maintain at least a 50:50 ratio of water to butter. An even better ratio is 60:40. If you notice that the water evaporates during cooking, or the temperature of the butter reaches close to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, add a bit more water to the infusion.
5. Limiting Your Marijuana Cooking to Baked Goods
The Problem: When you mention marijuana edibles, most people immediately think of cookies and brownies. These are excellent—and easy—products to make, but there’s a whole world of edible opportunities outside of baked goods. In fact, the herbal nature of cannabis lends itself to more savory and spicy dishes including chili, roasted potatoes, and chicken wraps.
The Solution: Research cannabis recipes online. Check out the growing body of cannabis cookbooks on the market. If you’re already making your own cannabis butter, look for ways to incorporate it into existing recipes. When deciding how much of the butter to use, follow the serving ratios outlined in #3 above.
A Flawless Cannabutter Recipe
Cannabutter (cannabis butter) is the original and the most versatile cannabis recipe. If you use it as a foundation for your baked goods and other recipes, there’s no limit to the kinds of dishes you can whip up.
This is the only foolproof cannabis recipe you’ll need, with instructions that account for the most common cooking mistakes. Just follow the steps below, and you’ll have the perfect infusion in just a few hours.
- 1lb of unsalted butter
- ¼ oz cannabis flowers (15% THC)
- Grind the cannabis flowers with a hand grinder. Don’t grind them into a powder; the ground cannabis should be slightly leafy.
- Decarboxylate your ground cannabis. Place the flowers on a baking sheet and bake at a temperature of 230 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and mix. Let the butter simmer over medium heat.
- Add the cannabis as soon as the butter starts to melt. Reduce to low heat and mix the ingredients well.
- Let the ingredients cook for 2 to 3 hours. Stir occasionally, and maintain a temperature of 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If the butter nears the maximum temperature, add a bit more water to prevent the butter from scorching. When the butter appears thick and glossy, you can stop cooking.
- Place a sieve lined with cheesecloth over a large glass bowl. Pour the butter over the sieve and wait for it to filter into the bowl. This should take 5 to 10 minute
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
- Drain any remaining liquid and pat the hardened butter with paper towels to absorb any remaining moisture.
- Refrigerate your butter in an airtight container.
Mixing Your Cannabutter Into Other Recipes
Now that you have your cannabutter ready to go, the trick is figuring out the right dosage. This harkens back to one of the biggest marijuana cooking mistakes: adding your butter to common recipes without testing the dosage. To find the optimal amount of cannabutter to use in your other recipes, start with a taste test.
- Taste one teaspoon of your batch and gauge the effect it has on you. Wait 45 minutes, as edible marijuana enters the bloodstream slowly. You’re not going to feel anything immediately.
- If the infusion isn’t potent enough for your liking, wait a few hours and raise the dosage to one-and-a-half teaspoons. Then two. When you find the ratio that provides the desired effect, consider that to be one serving.
- Add the butter to your recipes according to that desired ratio. So if you decide that one teaspoon is the perfect ratio and you want to make a batch of brownies with 12 servings, just use 12 teaspoons of the infusion in your brownie batter.
The Key to Perfect Cannabis Recipes
If you’re still new to cooking with marijuana, the key is consistency. With practice, you’ll perfect your ratios and discover the best uses for your butter. Don’t be discouraged if your first few batches end up being too potent, not potent enough, or oddly flavored. As with any recipe, perfection comes with time.
When you’re first starting out, try making a new batch at least once a month, especially if previous batches don’t live up to your expectations. Within three or four months, you should feel confident in your ability to create a premium product. Just be sure to note the specific cannabis strains, cooking times, and cooking temperatures, as even subtle variables can impact the flavor and potency.
The good news about cooking with cannabis is that you really only need to perfect one recipe. Once you have it down to a science, the fun part is incorporating it into different delicacies.