Article written by
Shanti RyleContent Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Cooking with cannabis can be intimidating, but knowing your way around a weed-friendly kitchen pays dividends on behalf of both your wallet and your wellness.
Making your cannabis products at home can save money and allow you to customize both recipes and desired effects, whether you’re making healthier snacks or decadent sweets. Homemade edibles also provide the peace of mind of knowing exactly what’s in your cannabis product and what to expect.
Read on for our top ten tips for cooking delicious cannabis edibles.
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1. Use High-Quality Flower
Different cultivars of cannabis have varying effects, thanks to each strain’s unique genetic makeup of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids (chemotype). With this in mind, selecting high-quality bud–cultivated well and free of contaminants–will produce edibles and psychoactivity of similar quality.
That said, there’s no need to break the bank on purchasing expensive cannabis flower. Many edible-makers will even use shake or trim in their recipes and achieve desired results.
We suggest somewhere in the middle: don’t spend too much on cannabis you’re just going to cook away, but avoid selecting old or poor-quality weed–you’re still ingesting it, after all. And the terpene profile of your selected strain will change whether you have more of an “up” or “down” experience, associated colloquially with the terms “sativa” or “indica.” Cannabis varieties higher in myrcene may be more sedative, whereas varieties lower in myrcene and higher in limonene may be more uplifting.
2. Calculate Your Dosages and Potency
Thankfully, a little bit of bud goes a long way. The fats in your base ingredient (more on that later) can only bind with so many cannabinoids. You’ll need no more than one (1) cup of cannabis flower to each cup of oil or butter, so there’s no need to dump a whole pack of bud into your recipe. Coconut oil, in particular, has a much higher ratio of saturated fats per amount, meaning it can absorb even more cannabinoids from your bud.
Using lab-tested flower with clearly defined cannabinoid percentages will allow you to better dose your recipe and plan for serving sizes. The recommended dose for beginners new to edibles is approximately 1 to 5 milligrams of THC. Let’s do the math.
Start with 10 grams of cannabis flower with 20% THC. This gives you 2,000 milligrams of THC. On average, decarbing your weed is 90% effective, leaving you with 1,800 milligrams. We’ll assume that the base ingredient absorbed about 60% of the available THC (1,800 x 0.6), which leaves us with 1,080 milligrams: sufficient for about 216 servings of 5-milligram doses.
As you can see, a little goes a long way. Double-checking your math and erring on the side of caution is one of the best ways to avoid unpleasant edible experiences. Edibles in particular can have quite strong psychoactive and intoxicating effects, even at relatively low doses of THC. It is best to go slow-and-low when dosing edibles.
3. Decarboxylate Your Cannabis
When making edibles, it’s not as easy as tossing your bud into a recipe and calling it a day. To activate your cannabis, you need to decarboxylate it–heat it–to transform the THCA in the plant to THC, the CBDA into CBD, and so on.
The cannabinoids in flower all have an extra carboxyl group (CO2H). Decarboxylation burns off these extra chains and allows the cannabinoids to bind to the endocannabinoid system’s receptors.
To decarboxylate your weed:
- Evenly spread out your flower on a baking sheet
- Heat the oven to 245 degrees Fahrenheit/120 degrees Celsius
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping the buds every ten minutes
4. Don’t Overchop Your Weed
Once your weed’s decarbed, it’s time to infuse your carrier ingredient of choice. Many edible recipes online tell you to grind your weed ultra-fine to infuse your butter or oil better. Don’t listen to these.
Chopping or grinding your weed into too-small pieces will make it more challenging to remove plant matter from your cannabutter. Instead, break your weed into small, even pieces that are large enough to catch in a cheesecloth or strainer.
5. Select Your Infused Ingredient
You may opt for either cannabutter or infused oil, depending on your recipe. Making each kind of infused ingredient is roughly the same, so it’s really up to your taste preferences and what kind of recipes you’d like to make.
For example, you may want to make cannabutter to melt over popcorn, infused olive oil to drizzle over salads, or coconut oil to make a dairy-free brownie recipe. The possibilities are endless, but one infused ingredient may work better for a recipe than another.
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6. Strain Any Plant Matter
After infusing your butter or oil, you’ll want to get rid of any plant matter, as this can help improve the flavor and shelf life of your butter or oil.. Cheesecloth is an excellent choice for straining, as it allows oil to pass through while leaving behind the leftover bud.
Don’t squeeze the cheesecloth to get every last drop of oil. Let gravity do its thing, or you may push out a lot more plant material into the final product and risk getting bits of cannabis in your recipe.
7. Mix Well
A common mistake in making edibles is not properly distributing the infused ingredient throughout the recipe. It can be risky to not mix well, as some parts of the food may have much higher doses of THC than others, potentially making for an unpleasantly over-potent surprise.
It’s important to mix thoroughly and stir as much as possible throughout the cooking or baking process so that the dosing is consistent throughout each serving of the final product.
8. Don’t Heat Over 340 Degrees Fahrenheit.
THC and other chemicals in cannabis start to degrade at temperatures that exceed 350 degrees Fahrenheit, making your edibles less potent than expected. It’s best to avoid recipes that require higher heat or opt to add your infused ingredient later in the process.
Be sure to keep an eye on the oven’s temperature while cooking. We suggest aiming for about 338 degrees Fahrenheit/170 degrees Celsius to stay safe and avoid burning off any cannabinoids.
9. Trust Your Taste Buds
Whether you’re making edibles for yourself or others, flavor matters–nobody wants to eat something that tastes bad or like weed. Flavor is where making edibles is more art than science: it’s never too late to add a little more seasoning or other ingredients to mask the flavor.
It may also be worth it to sample a small piece of the finished product and wait an hour to observe its effects before separating the recipe into serving sizes.
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10. Store and Label Your Edibles Properly
Once your recipe is complete, it’s essential to store and label them properly. Brownies may make the most sense in a sealed container in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life, while cannabis-infused oil should be fine on a pantry shelf.
Labeling your creation, however, is of the utmost importance. Keep your edibles out of the reach of children, animals or unsuspecting adults who don’t know there’s cannabis in your homemade snack.
Your first step to creating your own edibles is to apply a medical marijuana card from Leafwell.
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