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The Fundamentals of Cooking with Cannabis

When you think about it, cannabis is simply just another food-friendly cooking herb that’s full of complex flavor and nutrition. And, just like any other herb, you should learn how to cook it properly so you can bring out the best of its benefits to your recipes. Before you reach for the nearest baggie, peruse this list of cooking tips and tricks on how to safely cook with cannabis.

Basic Cannabis Cooking Rules

Here are some basics:

  • Cook cannabis at a low temperature, as it breaks down in high temperature. THC breakdown starts at 390 degrees Fahrenheit, although it slowly starts to degrade even before then.
  • Know your portions. This ensures that you will have the right amount of cannabis to add. This is especially helpful for those using medical cannabis, as they require very specific amounts to get its full benefits.
  • Use cheesecloth for filtering or straining cannabis oil. Avoid paper towels and coffee filters, as this isn’t strong enough and any stray particles may contaminate your oil.
  • Never cook edibles in the microwave; its unpredictability, high heat, and unevenness in cooking is not something you want when making edibles.

Here are some more tips to follow:

1. Enjoy Responsibly

Don’t just be like a college stoner gorging on heaps of pot brownies. Be responsible when partaking in infused foods, especially cannabis edibles. Be sure to know what dosage is your limit and how your metabolism deals with it. If you’re new to eating cannabis-infused products, it’s helpful to simply start slow. It’s tempting to just keep eating, but edibles usually take longer to take effect—at most a couple of hours—so make sure you pace yourself. If you eat a large dose too quickly, then you will definitely regret it.

Eating cannabis has a different effect from smoking it. It’s metabolized in the liver, converting THC to 11-hydroxy-THC. This makes the psychoactive effects ten times greater than when inhaled through the lungs, but it generally takes a longer time to take effect since it has to go through your digestive system first.

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2. Pick the Right Product/Strain

First ask yourself the question: what effect am I going for? Are you looking to feel energized? If so, then look for strains that have high levels of terpene limonene. Limonene acts as a mood enhancer, relieving stress, makes you feel focused, and even promotes weight loss.

If you want to feel sleepy and relaxed, look for strains with higher linalool. Linalool is found naturally in cannabis as well as lavender, and it helps soothe anxiety, sleep deprivation, sore muscles, as well as depression.

3. Understand THC Levels

If you plan to include THC in your recipe, it’s helpful to know what percentage you’re cooking into your ingredients. Don’t combine strains as it could result with an unknown potency that could be too strong for you and cause adverse effects. This tool is useful for determining levels of THC potency in your cannabis product, and it will also tell you how much THC and CBD will be in every serving. 

4. Decarb Your Cannabis

Decarbing—also known as decarboxylation, a chemical reaction that releases carboxylic acids from THC— is a process that activates the psychoactive ingredients of cannabis. Here’s how you decarb cannabis in bud form:

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Grind your cannabis finely
  • Spread the ground cannabis on a baking sheet
  • Cover the sheet loosely with foil, sealing the edges before sliding it into the oven.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, 20 if the cannabis you used is dry and old.
  • Allow the cannabis to cool, still covered, after you take it out of the oven.
  • Remove the foil when the cannabis has cooled down completely.

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5. Do Not Mix Cannabis and Water

THC is known to be non-soluble in water, so boiling cannabis leaves in water does not activate the THC. It is, however, soluble with alcohols, fats, and oils. Use fats such as milk, butter, and oil to release THC, as well as to make your edibles even tastier. 

6. Learn How to Make Cannabutter

This is a core ingredient in many cannabis recipes, and it makes for a good substitute for margarine and butter. To make it, you need a pound of butter for every two ounces of cannabis and one cup of water. Combine butter and water in a pot on low heat and wait for the butter to melt. After the butter melts completely, add the ground cannabis and simmer for two to three hours. You will need to stir occasionally and watch the mixture to make sure that it doesn’t come to a boil.

7. Learn How to Make Cannabis Cooking Oil

You will need two cups of vegetable oil per ounce of ground cannabis. Add the ground cannabis to the vegetable oil, then add the mixture to a pan. Put it over low heat, just below boiling point to prevent the evaporation of THC. Simmer for two hours, stirring every 15 minutes to avoid boiling, and to distribute the THC evenly.

With these tips you should be well on our way into a new cooking adventure with cannabis. Feel free to branch out from brownies by incorporating your cannabis products into sauces, salads, granola, appetizers, stir fries, and more.