Like many other cooking herbs, cannabis is a food-friendly plant that is full of flavour and nutrition. Learning how to cook with it properly is not only fun, but it also adds a level of complexity that can bring new tastes and therapeutic benefits to your recipes. Before reaching for your nearest trim or shake bag, slow down. There are a few important tips for cooking with cannabis that you should know to create the safest and most enjoyable edible experience at home.
1. Know How to Enjoy Edibles Responsibly
Before stepping foot in your kitchen, knowing how to eat an edible responsibly is essential when indulging in infused foods. Be aware of your metabolism and know what dosage is right for you. If you are brand new to cannabis, remember this golden rule: "go low, start slow." Begin with one to five milligrams and see how you feel. It usually takes about one to two hours for edibles to kick in, so being patient with your body is extremely important. If you don't feel anything right away, do not keep eating more. If you eat too much at first, you will regret it. If you consume responsibly, you'll want to eat edibles again in the future.
Also be aware that eating cannabis is much different than smoking it. When eaten, cannabis metabolizes in the liver, which converts THC to 11-hydroxy-THC, a different chemical than the delta-9-THC that is created by heat when smoked or vaped. If you can smoke a lot of weed and not get too high, do not use this logic with edibles. When processed through the liver, psychoactive effects can be 10 times greater than when inhaled through the lungs, so know your limits and pace yourself.
2. Pick the Right Strain or Product
If you are planning to use dry cannabis flower for your cooking, pick a strain that's right for you. How do you want to feel? Remember it is not just about indica and sativa. To find the best flower, it is important to understand the strain's terpene profile and consider the "entourage effect" of THC, CBD, THCA, and other cannabinoids that are present. For example, if you want something that provides energy, look for strains that have higher levels of the terpene limonene. Limonene is the citrus terpene that makes you feel uplifted, energized, and focussed. It acts as a mood enhancer and stress reliever and promotes weight loss.
If you want to feel relaxed and sleepy, strains with higher levels of linalool are a good option. Found naturally in cannabis, lavender, and other florals, linalool helps with anxiety, sore muscles, sleep, and depression. It can also help control acne.
If you don't want to cook your own cannabis oil or butter, there are a lot of infused gourmet products available for you to use in your recipes. For example, Om Edibles makes a delicious low-dose medicated olive oil that you can add to different dishes, which can be purchased through Sava if you live in California. Cured Nutrition produces Chocolate Chip or Nut Butter Dough that is infused with 30 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD), which can be ordered online in all 50 states.
3. Understand THC Levels Before Cooking
If you are planning to incorporate THC into your recipe, know the percentage that you are cooking with. Understanding THC levels is a critical step when using any cannabis product. Once you pick out the flower that is right for you, be sure to make a note of the THC percentage, which will allow you to dose accurately and responsibly. While it might seem tempting to use a blend of trim or shake that you have left over, don't do it! When you combine different strains, it is extremely difficult to know the potency you are working with. Stick to one strain per infusion while cooking.
Once you know the THC, a great tool to use to determine potency is Jeff The 420 Chef's THC and CBD Calculator. This incredible tool is easy to use, and it will tell you precisely how much THC or CBD will be in each serving. This is critical when you are cooking with cannabis. You can consume higher levels of CBD without getting high, but be mindful and pay attention to THC content.
4. Decarboxylate to Activate Cannabis
One of the biggest rookie mistakes made when cooking with cannabis is not decarboxylating your dry flower before infusing it with oil or butter. Decarboxylation is the chemical reaction that releases the carboxylic acids from THC to activate the cannabis. This process turns nonpsychoactive THCA into psychoactive THC. Activation occurs by exposing dry cannabis to heat around 250°F for 30 to 60 minutes. For CBD-dominant strains, activation begins at 295°F, which releases CBD's therapeutic properties. Decarboxylation methods vary, but we've found great success using these temperatures.
5. Infuse Cannabis Into an Oil or Butter
Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are fat-soluble, meaning they can dissolve in fats such as oils and butter. THC and CBD molecules dissolve easily in these lipids when they're heated together in a solution. This is why most infused foods are made with butter, olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil. After decarboxylating dry cannabis flower, pick the type of infusion you want to make, and then pick your method. If you have a Crock-Pot at home, you can easily make an infusion with oil or butter. If you have a French press on hand, Jeff the 420 Chef developed a method that produces beautiful infused oils or butter. You can even purchase kitchen devices that will make an infusion for you. Levo's cutting-edge infusion device creates oils or butter with a click of a button. It is that easy.
When making a butter or oil, another trick is not to overgrind the cannabis after it decarboxylates. Grinding the flower too much will create an infusion that displays an unattractive green colour and intense herbal flavours that won't taste good in your recipe.
It is also important to remember that cannabis oils and butter are not just for brownies, cookies, and sugar-packed sweet treats. You can incorporate infused products into healthy recipes such as salads, sauces, appetizers, granola, and stir-fry, plus so much more. Your options are endless, so be creative and have fun in your kitchen!