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Sometimes, smoking weed just doesn't cut it. Sure, you could try a vape cartridge or a dab, but when you're looking for an intense high that you can share with friends, there's nothing better than a batch of homemade edibles.
Making edibles at home is a perfect way to use up a bag of shake, test your tolerance, or just experiment with dosing, ingredients, and flavors. If it is your first time making edibles, though, it can be a little overwhelming to put your expensive bag of weed in the oven and hope for the best. But like most baking, a little focus, a lot of patience, and a meticulous recipe will cure any anxiety and result in a delicious - and in this case, dank - dessert.
Whether you're making magic brownies, cannabis cookies, or infused chocolates, there are a few steps that every marijuana chef must follow. Likewise, there are some common mistakes when cooking with marijuana that we will touch on and teach you how to avoid. Combine that with a little science and a couple of tricks from our cupboard, and you'll be whipping out the whisks to create culinary cannabis concoctions of your own.
Before you preheat the oven, you've got to pick your weed. In the production of edibles, the main factors to look for in flower are potency and terpenes. The potency of your flower will determine how much you need to use and how strong your edibles will end up, while the terpenes will determine what kind of flavors the cannabis will infuse into your food. Once you've picked your strain, put aside 3.5-7 grams of bud for every cup of oil or butter that you plan to infuse.
When it comes to dosing, you'll have to do a little math. There are 1000mg in every gram, so if you're using top-shelf flower that is 20% THC, each gram of bud will contain 200mg of THC. Multiplied by 3.5 grams, that's 700mg of THC in every cup of infused oil. If your batch of cookies calls for half a cup of butter, split the badder into 35 cookies for a 10mg dose, 14 cookies for a stronger 25mg dose, or 7 massive cookies for an intense 50mg dose. As long as you know the potency and weight of your cannabis inputs, you can use that same formula to dose out any type of edible.
As you may or may not know, eating a nug of raw cannabis will not get you stoned. Dried, cured buds are packed with the chemical THCA instead of THC, and need to be heated to activate the plant's psychoactive compounds. In scientific terms, that chemical conversion caused by heat is called decarboxylation. Before you can add bud to brownie badder, every batch of weed destined for edible production must be decarboxylated first.
When it comes to decarbing your weed, the temperature is key. According to the common cannabis decarboxylation temperature chart, THC is activated at about 220 degrees Fahrenheit but starts to boil at 340 degrees, leaving a tight window to perfectly toast your pot. Luckily, decades of research and development have given us a perfect recipe to convert your weed's THCA to THC. First, preheat your oven to 240 degrees. If you have an infrared or handheld meat thermometer, it is always good to double-check your oven's accuracy for precise heating. Once your temperature is set, loosely grind up your bud and spread it across a sheet pan. If you grind the bud too fine - in a food processor for example - you will release all of the flower's chlorophyll, resulting in baked goods that taste more like grass than precious terpenes. Instead, grind your bud at the same level you would for a joint or a blunt, and strain out excess plant matter after your infusion is done.
Put your pan of ground-up weed into the oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring the flower every 10 minutes to make sure that the heat is evenly distributed across the plant's surface area. After 40 minutes at 240 degrees, your weed is ready to eat as a fully-activated garnish or infuse into your favorite oil.
After decarboxylation, you could technically eat handfuls of ground bud or sprinkle it onto a salad or steak as an herb and get incredibly stoned. But if you're like us, you want to know how to make weed brownies. For that, you'll need to convert your cannabis into an oil that can be properly dosed and distributed into your cooking. Because THC is fat-soluble, using oil for your infusion is the easiest and most consistent option.
Olive and canola oil work fine for infusions, but the high-fat contents in butter and coconut oil make them ideal carriers for cannabis. To combine your cannabis and oil, use a medium saucepan on the stove, and add a few cups of water. Use a thermometer to make sure the mixture stays in the 160-200 degree range, infusing the oil for about three hours, stirring occasionally. The water will help keep the temperature down while your oil and bud steep and because oil and water separate, it will be easy to pour off the water and keep the cannabutter or infused oil once it has time to cool.
If you have an electronic slow cooker or sous vide machine, you can set a precise temperature and take a lot of the guesswork out of your infusion process. After hours of cooking, use cheesecloth or a strainer to take out the remaining plant matter and then separate the oil from the water, leaving a slightly green or yellow block of fully-infused butter or coconut oil.
Now that your weed has been decarboxylated and infused into an oil, you're ready to pull out the recipe book and start cooking. Unfortunately, at this point, there are still a handful of ways you can screw up your edibles.
Even though your weed is already decarbed, you still have to be careful about temperatures, avoiding anything above 340 degrees at all costs. For baking, that might mean adjusting recipes to lower temperatures and longer times, or simply finding different directions for a similar sweet treat. If you heat your cannabutter or infused oil past 340, the THC will cook off, leaving you with magic brownies that aren't very magic.
No matter how precise your extraction method is, it's always a good idea to test out your cannabutter before making a full batch of edibles. Before you start cooking, spread a smidge of butter or oil on some toast and wait an hour or two to personally test the strength of your infusion. With that high in mind, find a recipe that uses a perfect amount of oil to match the strength of your infusion. If your infusion came out a little weak and you need to know how to make cannabutter stronger, the best thing you can do is find a high-fat recipe that uses up more of your oil in every serving.
Lastly, make sure that you are working your wrists when you stir weed into your batter. After all, an edible's dosage is based on distribution, so mixing well will ensure that every cookie or brownie served is equally potent. From there, find your favorite recipe and get to baking - bong appetit!
Do you have a favorite recipe for edibles? Let us know your favorite cannabis cooking tips and tricks in the comments below!