Cooking with Cannabis 101

1 · 04 · 23
cooking-with-cannabis

 

Cannabis-infused foods are a great alternative to smoking for those looking to achieve the same high without smoking or vaping. There are a few different ways you can bake or cook with cannabis; however, there are a few things you need to be aware of. Some upfront knowledge will ensure you don’t compromise your products’ potency or over consume and have a bad trip. 

 

Choose a Recipe 

 

While most people are only familiar with sweet edibles, such as cookies and gummies, you can use flower or concentrates to cook savory dishes as well. The key is knowing how much fat or oil a dish will have. Cannabinoids are “fat loving” molecules that naturally dissolve into, and bind to, oil molecules. The fattier a dish, the easier it is to incorporate cannabinoids into your meal. However, another reason we recommend cooking with concentrates is that they can be melted into more than just oil. To make an infused honey, all you need to do is warm the honey till it’s warm and liquid and then dissolve your concentrate into warm honey. Stir vigorously, and you now have an infused honey you can add to smoothies, oatmeal, or any number of other dishes! 

When choosing a recipe, you must consider whether you’d prefer to taste the cannabis or hide it. If you don’t particularly like the taste of cannabis, choose a more robust recipe with flavors that blend with cannabis. Chocolate is one of the primary flavors that blends with cannabis which is one reason brownies are a classic staple of many home edibles makers. Herbs that share a lot of the same terpenes as cannabis are also a good mix. Rosemary, Basil, and several other astringent herbs pair well with cannabis so Italian dishes often pair well with cannabis. 

On the other hand, if you enjoy the taste, choose a lighter recipe that is centered around your flower. Making an infused honey butter is an excellent option to help the flower flavor shine through. We do not recommend infusing olive oil with cannabis as the heating process can sometimes cause the olive oil to pick up odd flavors from the flower. Instead, we recommend infusing the olive oil with an exceptionally terpy extract from a premium cannabis brand. 

 

Choose a Cannabis Product 

 

First, you need to decide if you’re going to cook with flower or concentrates. To keep it simple and minimize the cannabis flavor, we recommend purchasing a gram of active THC distillate or RSO which is a concentrated form of hash oil. These products have fully active THC and do not require the process of heating up your product to activate the THC (a process called decarboxylation where heat converts THCA into its psychoactive form THC delta-9). This can take a lot of the guesswork out of the cooking process and makes planning out the potency of your meal much easier. 

However, flower may give you a more “full spectrum” experience meaning your dish will include the full spectrum of compounds that grow naturally in the flower. Many distillates have those elements stripped out during the extraction process, so if you want that “full spectrum” of compounds we recommend cooking with RSO which is produced in a way that retains all those additional compounds that give each strain their unique effects. 

 

Plan Out Your Cannabis Infused Meal’s Potency Ahead of Time 

 

Cooking with Cannabis Concentrates 

Be aware that there can be anywhere from 650mg (65% THC) to 980mg (98% THC). You only need a tiny amount of this stuff to infuse an entire meal. Distillates and RSO are sold in small syringes often called “darts” because of their compact size. They typically have markers on the side of the syringe so you can squeeze out only the amount you need. A 10th of a gram can have as much as 65 – 98 mg, which is more than enough to infuse 10 – 12 servings of your dish.  

Cooking with cannabis requires a little math to ensure your meal has enough THC to get you high, but not so much that it causes a bad trip. Here are some simple rules of thumb to help make adding concentrates to your meal easier. 

  1. When looking at the potency of a gram of distillate or RSO, take the potency percentage from the package and move the decimal spot one space to the right to get the total milligrams of THC (e.g., 65% THC means that 650mg of the gram is THC) 
  1. Start with a tenth of a gram and divide it by the number of servings in your dish (e.g., A tenth of 650mg would be 65mg and a dish with 10 servings would have 6.5mg per serving) 
  2. Scale your recipe up to reduce potency or down to increase potency 

Here’s a hot tip for you, use a toothpick to catch the concentrate as it comes out of the dart and then swirl the tip around in your warm oil you plan to infuse for your dish. 

 

Cooking with Cannabis Flower 

If you are cooking with flower, you must first activate the THC and then extract it from the flower. This process is called decarboxylation –“decarbing” for short– and if you ask 10 experienced home edibles makers how to decarb your flower, you will get 10 different answers. There are more techniques for decarbing than we have time to cover in this blog post, but these are probably the most comm 

The decarboxylation process is easy and can be done right in your home: 

  1. Break up your dried cannabis into small pieces (do NOT use a grinder) 
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread out your cannabis on top 
  3. Bake your flower at 225℉ in a toaster oven for 45 minutes (a regular oven will work too) 
  4. Once baked, allow the flower to cool completely before infusing an oil with it 

This baking process breaks off the “A” part of the THCA molecule which is the same thing that happens when you spark a joint and burn one down. Without this step, you will not get high because THCA is not psychoactive. 

Extracting the cannabinoids from flower requires a second step where you put the decarbed herb into warm oil to soak for about an hour. A crockpot is a common tool used for this step. You want to keep the oil warm, not hot, as excessive heat will convert your THC into CBN, a cannabinoid with a well-earned reputation as a potent sleep aid. After an hour, strain the flower from your oil and it’s ready to incorporate into your dish. We recommend a metal strainer instead of cheesecloth, since the cheesecloth can retain a lot of oil instead of getting it into your dish.  

Here’s a hot tip, hold on to the left over flower. A lot of home cooks throw away the oil-soaked herb which is a big mistake. You see, home extraction of flower is highly inefficient, and you will generally only get 60% of your THC out of your flower. That means the other 40% of it is still in that oil-soaked herb. You can take that oil-soaked herb and add it to all sorts of savory dishes and sauces. Stews, pesto, salad dressings, and other dishes with a lot of savory herbs and spices are a good option for this. 

In terms of gauging the potency of your dish when cooking with flower, that’s a bit tricky. The consensus among professional edibles makers is that home cooks can expect about 80% of the THCA will convert to THC during decarbing and only about 60% of that will make its way into the oil during the extraction/infusion process. You must do a little more math to help folks avoid overconsumption which is why we recommend cooking with concentrates to help keep things easy. 

To make this easier, if you are making your own cannabis base or want to calculate the THC in each serving, use the edible dosage calculator

 

Choose a Strain 

 

Once you’ve chosen your recipe, you must determine what strain you’d like to use. We recommend going for your favorite strain when cooking with cannabis, but you can also try to match for effects. In general, you can expect cannabis aromas to indicate the kinds of effects the strain will have. There are thousands of strains out there that are available in various flavors, potencies, and forms. For example, if you are planning on making a baked good, there is flower in sweet flavors, such as pineapple or lemon. Or if you want to make a savory dish you can choose cannabis with a more earthy taste. 

We have a blog post about it and you can rely on your High Haven budtender to help you navigate our product offerings and match a flavor profile to the effects you’re looking for. 

 

Cooking Tips 

 

Now that you have the basics down, let’s go over some tips to keep in mind before you begin making your dish: 

Avoid High Temperatures: Beginners often make the mistake of cooking their cannabis at high temperatures, but this can convert the THC into CBN as discussed earlier in this post. Be sure to stay at or below 340℉ and minimize your cook times to avoid this conversion. Also, if you are cooking on a stovetop, add the butter or oil at the very end. Even using it to sauté ingredients can convert THC to CBN so it is best to add it after the pan has been removed from the heat. 

Mix Thoroughly: It may go without saying, but make sure to mix in your cannabis thoroughly! Your serving dosage will only be accurate if everything is mixed properly. Otherwise, some portions will have more THC than others which can result in any number of issues. 

 

Storing Tips 

If you have any leftovers, here are some storing tips to keep in mind: 

  • Store oils and butters in a sealed container 
  • Make sure to clearly label cannabis-infused foods 
  • Keep leftovers in dark containers, as light can degrade cannabis overtime 
  • Keep edibles in a dry place 

 

Ready to try your first recipe but not sure which strain to choose? Check out our blog How to Shop for Cannabis Flower You’ll Love for help! 

Want more? Check out our other blogs.

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