With the radical increase in Medical Marijuana dispensaries across North America, so too has the diversity of cannabis products increased to meet new demands. Countless new products are being created every day to help customize the user experience and provide people with new and exciting ways to consume cannabis. Though in the past ten years, Concentrates had taken centre stage as the exciting new trend in cannabis use, recently, the shift has moved towards cannabis edibles.
Cannabis Edibles have come a long way since the “Hash Brownie” made its way into the mainstream. Thanks to the 1968 film “I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!”, Edibles became a globally recognized phenomenon. Traditionally, cannabis was always prepared in the form of a dessert. For instance, brownies, cookies and cakes, really any recipe that called for butter that could be substituted with cannabis butter. Early iterations of cannabis edibles were all delicious treats but contained an unknown number of cannabinoids. As a result, they were tough to dose correctly.
Modern Day Edibles
Now, you can find cannabis in literally thousands of different edible products available in almost every dispensary. Edibles have moved away from the baked confections of old and are appealing to a new audience. A seemingly endless array of gummy products and chocolates fills the shelves in dispensaries across the country. With a seemingly endless array of flavours and available in varying cannabinoid ranges, deciding which product is best for you can be a little overwhelming.
Cannabis edibles are a discreet and convenient way to administer cannabis into the body. These pre-made, pre-packaged treats are now more accessible than ever, making them a preferred pain control method for many patients. However, most of today’s cannabis edibles still contain high fructose corn syrup, heavy sugars and other not so natural ingredients. As a result, many patients prefer to infuse their own cannabis so that they can tailor their snacks or meals to their preferred diet.
Similar to many other naturally growing herbs, cannabis is food-friendly, meaning it’s safe to eat. It is edible, filled with nutrients, and packed with unique flavours and aromas. Not only can the cannabinoid content affect the final products, but the terpenes and flavonoids on cannabis can also play a huge role in taste and experience. As a bonus, cannabinoids are fat-soluble, meaning they dissolve easily into fats like butter and oils. As a result, it is quite straightforward to infuse oil or butter with cannabis, and you can do it in the comfort of your own home.
By infusing cannabis into your own foods at home, you can control your edible experience. You can use cannabis as a base ingredient or topping to add a little bit of zip to regular food. You can even make the delicious brownies and cookies you love while fully controlling the ingredients used in the recipe.
The first, and most important step, is to choose the right cannabis strain for your infusion. Outside of the obvious differences between Sativa and Indica strains, the terpene and cannabinoid profiles can also play a huge factor in the overall experience.
First, decide what your intention is. If you’re looking for an end of the night treat before bed, choose a heavier Indica strain. If you’re looking to make butter for your toast in the morning, you would be smarter to choose a Sativa. You should try and compare a few different strains before making your final decision. Each strain will have its own aroma and terpene profile. Finding the strain that smells best to you is usually a good indication of what terpenes your body is craving.
Each cannabis strain has a different terpene and cannabinoid profile. As a result, infusions made with different strains can offer different effects. Some have higher THC and will offer a more cerebral experience, while strains high in CBD will offer intense relaxation. It’s important to know what product you are using ahead of time to help you more accurately dose your edibles.
Using the Best Ingredients
Choosing the right strain is important, but not nearly as important as using the right ingredients. Knowing what type of Edible you want to make can help you choose a strain as well. If you’re making a lemon tart, you should consider using a high in limonene strain as the flavours will complement one another. If you’re making blueberry gummies, why not use Blueberry Kush for the same reason. Many home-made infusions tend to have a very “green” or flowery taste to them. Pairing the ingredients and cannabis strain can help reduce those flavours.
To the same effect, some chefs enjoy using the natural flavours of cannabis and will compliment them with other herbaceous ingredients. Cannabis oil makes amazing salad dressings and pasta sauces, two foods that already have a similar taste. Above all, trust your palate. Your own smell and taste will let you know what combinations work best for you. Mastering the perfect pairing takes time and patience but is incredibly rewarding. In the end, sampling all those edibles that didn’t quite make the cut isn’t the worst thing either.
One of the most common mistakes when preparing home-made infusions is forgetting to decarboxylate. Your cannabis or hemp flower requires heating to activate the cannabinoids. The act of heating the flower to release these cannabinoids is called decarboxylation. When smoking cannabis, this occurs when the cannabis is lit. When decarboxylating for cooking purposes, here are some guidelines to help maximize your flower’s potential.
For CBDA to convert into CBD, it requires a minimum heat of 146°C (295°F), for approximately 30-60 minutes. For THCA to convert into THC, it requires a minimum heat of 115°C (240°F), for the same 30-60 minutes. Some chefs will have a difference in opinion of this matter, stating that 20 minutes at 140°C (275°F) is all you need. Regardless, you should exceed temperatures of 150°C (300°F).
Step by Step Instructions on how to Decarboxylate Cannabis
Decarboxylation doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but it is a crucial step in making perfect edibles. Follow these step by step instructions and you shouldn’t have any problems.
- Preheat your oven to 110°C (225°F)
- Line a baking sheet or oven-safe glass dish with parchment paper
- Break up your cannabis buds into smaller pieces and spread them over the bottom of your dish, closely together but not piled up.
- Once your oven reaches the desired temperature, bake for 20 minutes. Note: Watch for the plant colour to change to a light to medium brown.
- Set your cannabis aside to cool and turn your oven up to 115°C (240°F).
- Once cooled, crumble your cannabis by hand and spread it back over the bottom of your dish, again, closely together but not piled up.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 45-90 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool again. At this point, you can grind your cannabis up even further, however, be cautious not to grind it too fine or your infusion will retain too much of the earthy and flowery tastes.
- Store in an airtight glass jar in a cool dry place.
Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t: Spending too much money on your cooking cannabis
When smoking cannabis, you should always try and find top quality buds. However, with cooking, this isn’t the case. You can find valuable cannabinoids in shake, trim, stems and leaves. In addition, these “lesser” forms of cannabis are usually much cheaper to acquire. Similarly, they will naturally generate at the bottom of your cannabis bag after time. Remember, a little goes a long way, and you don’t need copious amounts of cannabis to make amazing edibles.
Don’t: Cooking with fresh cannabis
Without activating the cannabis before cooking with it, your edibles won’t get nearly as many cannabinoids from the plant. Decarboxylation is easy and essential for making the perfect edibles. You can actually use cannabis that has previously been in your vaporizer, as vaporizers decarboxylate the cannabis flower for you. The pre-vaped cannabis won’t be as strong as properly decarboxylated flowers, but it will be stronger than fresh cannabis that wasn’t properly prepared.
Don’t: Over-grinding your cannabis
Though it may be tempting to use a blender or food processor to break up your cannabis, it isn’t recommended. Grinding your cannabis too fine can have several negative results. For instance, infusions made with fine cannabis powder will often retain too much of the original plant taste. Also, the infusion will often turn dark green, which will, in turn, make your edibles dark green. Ideally, cannabis should be course ground, similar to rock or Himalayan salt.
Do: Add water to your oil or butter while cooking
Though some people are strictly against it, science is on the water’s side. Adding water during the infusion process will help keep the cannabinoids from degrading. Similarly, it will keep your butter or oil from burning. Infusing oil or butter with cannabis is a slow process, and without the added water, the cannabis can burn and ruin the infusion. There is no exact recipe, but in general, we suggest adding almost as much water as you did oil or butter. The water will eventually boil off, and your final product will be might brighter as a result.
Do: Take the time to properly strain your infusion
There is no better method than a good piece of cheesecloth, but even a coffee filter will do. The important part is not to rush this part of the process. You want to remove all plant material from the infusion. In some instances, double straining isn’t a bad idea either. This is another reason why it is beneficial to have a courser ground cannabis flower to work with. The larger pieces are much easier to filter out than cannabis flower that was ground too fine.
Do: Test the potency of your new infusion before cooking with it
Not a year goes by that you don’t hear another cliché story about someone eating too strong of an edible. I’m guilty of it myself. However, dosing edibles doesn’t have to be rocket science. In fact, it can be quite simple. This is where choosing the right strain plays a big role in the cooking process.
When dosing your infusion, there is a simple mathematical equation to follow. First, check to see the potency of the THC in your cannabis. If the strain has a THC potency of 20%, then Each 1g of cannabis (1000mg) has approximately 200mg of THC. Since the bio-availability for cannabinoids in oil or butter is only about 50%, each 1g of bud would only provide 100mg of THC. As a result, you will need 2g of cannabis flower when making oil or butter to end up with 200mg of THC in your final infusion.
Above all, before you use the infusion, make sure you test it. Take a small amount, even a projected “dosed” size, and wait an hour to gauge the effects. When mixing your new infusion into your recipe, be thorough. The infusion must be diluted evenly across the rest of the batch to ensure even and accurate dosing. Without proper mixing techniques, you could end up with some edibles without a dose and some with extra doses. As always, safety first.
Cannabis Butter Recipe for beginners
We recommend starting with 2 cups of butter, and 8g (8000mg) decarboxylated cannabis with 20% THC for a simple butter recipe for those new to edibles. Melt the butter over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in the decarboxylated cannabis and continue to simmer for 90 minutes, slowly adding water every 15 minutes. If possible, use a cooking thermometer to ensure that your infusion stays between 80°C (175°F) and 115°C (240°F). After 90 minutes, strain your infusion, preferably through a cheesecloth, and then put it in the fridge to cool overnight.
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“Cooking with Cannabis: the iltimate free patient guide to cooking with medical marijuana” Medical Jane (online) Available from https://www.medicaljane.com/category/cannabis-classroom/cooking-with-cannabis/#intro-to-cooking-with-cannabis (Accessed on January 30, 2021)
Cannabis Blog (2020) “Top 10 mistakes rookies make when cooking edibles” Royal Queen Seeds. (online) Available from https://www.royalqueenseeds.com/blog-the-top-rookie-mistakes-when-cooking-cannabis-edibles-n754 (Accessed
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