3 simple ingredients every cannabis cook should always have on hand
Making your own edibles can be a lot easier than you think. All you need are these simple ingredients to infuse with cannabis.
Butter. Pieces of butter in the hot pan top view.
Remember the first time you tried to make edibles? Your high school girlfriend’s parents went out of town for the weekend, so you all pitched in a dime, bought some brownie mix and tried to just mix it all together and bake it.
And it kinda worked?
Mostly you just pretended like it got you really high because that know-it-all wouldn’t shut up about how this was all “a waste of time” and how “it wouldn’t work” and you really didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.
But, of course, that know-it-all was right. There is a correct way to make cannabis brownies, but it’s not done by just dumping a bunch of cannabis into a pan of Betty Crocker.
The first thing you have to understand about cooking with cannabis is a process called, “decarboxylation.” I can spell it, but I can’t say it. Science is really annoying sometimes.
The point is, it’s crucial in the process of making edibles, tinctures and topical treatments. It’s also the first step to making most cannabis-infused ingredients.
Just eating cannabis won’t do the trick. To get the full medicinal value out of the plant, it needs to be heated up to a temperature that isn’t possible for the human digestive system to reach. It doesn’t matter how much hot chocolate you drink.
How to decarboxylate cannabis
A note of caution: this will make your house absolutely stink of cannabis.
- Preheat your oven to 225° F/110° C.
- Line an oven-safe dish with parchment paper.
- By hand, break up cannabis buds into smaller pieces, line all the pieces on the dish close together (but not stacked on top of one another).
- Once the oven is ready, bake for roughly 20 minutes to remove the moisture. Keep a close eye on the color to get darker (you’re looking for a light to medium brown shade — like a marshmallow). When you take the dish out, the cannabis should appear crumbly.
- Set the cannabis aside and wait until it is cool enough to handle. While this is happening, turn your oven up to 240° F/115° C.
- When the cannabis is cooled, lightly crumble by hand and distribute it evenly on the dish.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil (crimp the edges tight to make sure you seal everything in) and put it back in the oven. Word is you bake for 45 to 60 minutes for higher THC and 60 to 90 minutes for higher CBD.
- When you take the dish out of the oven, let it completely cool down fully before you take the foil off. If it looks like it needs further processing, you can use a food processor or blender, pulsing the cannabis until it is coarsely ground. But don’t over grind it. We’re not looking for a super fine powder.
- Place the powder in an airtight container, like a Mason jar and store it somewhere cool and dry.
The major downside of decarboxylating is that you lose the signature aroma and flavor of cannabis during the process. Finding the right balance between the cannabis and your ingredients may help ease that, but for your first few attempts, you’ll want to focus on nailing the whole “decarboxylation thing” first. Screwing it up could be a costly mistake.
(It’s not like cannabis grows on trees…)
You can use decarboxylated cannabis to infuse cannabis into any number of things. However, there are three ingredients you can use for simple infusions, and which will open up a variety of meal options for you —whether you use them as a cooking ingredient or a topping.
What does it make? Cannabutter
Cannabis-infused butter, a.k.a. “cannabutter” (I mean, you’ve got to give it up for Oscar Wilde-like wordplay that good), is a popular ingredient in marijuana-infused recipes. Probably because regular butter is a popular ingredient in many regular recipes.
Using cannabutter in a recipe is fairly straightforward. You can straight-up substitute the normal butter for cannabutter to experience the full effects. It’s that easy.
Here’s how to make cannabutter.
What you’ll need
- 1 pound butter (unsalted preferred)
- 1 quart (4 cups) of water
- 2 pieces of cheesecloth (approx 8” x 8”)
- Metal strainer or colander
- Medium saucepan / pot (2 or 3 quart)
- Plastic wrap or airtight container(s)
- Combine the water, butter (cut into pieces) and decarboxylated cannabis into a pan and cook on low heat. You don’t ever want the pot (ha) to reach a boil, just simmer. Cook this for three to four hours. Stir every 30 minutes. Don’t let the cannabis touch the bottom.
- After three to four hours, when the mixture looks glossy and most of the water has evaporated, turn off the heat and allow it to cool.
- Line a metal colander or strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth .
- When the butter is safe to handle, pour it into the colander/strainer, pressing down with back of spatula, allowing the butter to drain into a glass bowl.
- Using gloved hands, make a pouch with the cheesecloth and twist tightly to squeeze out all of that sweet, precious butter. Throw out the now pooched cannabis. Also, scrape out any residual butter left in pan into the bowl. Waste not.
- Place bowl in fridge for about two hours, or until the butter has solidified.
- Once the butter has solidified, run a knife around its edges to separate the butter from the bowl. Next, wedge a spatula underneath and Carefully lift the butter out and place on a cutting board to dry. You can dab off any excess water.
- Store your cannabutter in an airtight container in the fridge.
Cannabutter doesn’t have a super long shelf life — a few weeks, tops. You’ll want to use it as soon as soon possible.
2) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
What does it make? Canna Oil
Sounds like “canola oil”… but with a naughty little secret. It gets you high. That’s the secret.
You can use canna oil to make things like salad dressings, dipping sauces and baked goods. It’s also vegan-friendly, if that’s something that’s important to you. You can also use it to cook steak or chicken, if it’s something that’s not important to you.
Here’s how to make it.
What you’ll need
- 6 cups of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ounce of cannabis buds, finely ground
- Metal strainer
- Medium saucepan/pot (2 or 3 quart)
- In the saucepan, slowly heat the cooking oil on low heat for a few minutes until you can smell the aroma from the oil.
- Add a little bit of cannabis into the oil and stir until it is fully coated. Repeat this process until all of your cannabis is in the oil.
- Let it simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. After the 45 minutes, take the mixture off the burner and allow it to cool.
- Using a spoon, press the cannabis against a metal strainer to get all that sweet oil out of it. Throw out the cannabis once complete.
- The oil is best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two months.
Wouldn’t it have been so much better if Nonna had canna oil in her kitchen instead of cheek pinches and hot flashes? Oh well.
3) Coconut oil
What does it make? Cannabis-infused coconut oil (this one doesn’t get a fun name)
Great, one more reason for the worst date ever to not shut about how great coconut oil is.
Now, using cannabis-infused coconut oil to create chocolate sauce that gets you high? That I can dig. A scoop in my morning coffee? I can get into that.
How can this magical time happen for you?
What you’ll need
- A double boiler
- ¼ to ½ ounce of cannabis
- 1 cup of coconut oil
- 2-3 feet of cooking twine
- Cheesecloth (about an 8” x 10” piece)
- First, you need to make an “herb packet” (no, seriously, that’s what it’s called)
- Lay the cheese cloth out flat
- Evenly distribute broken-up pieces of cannabis over a small area (the packet will need to fit into the top pan of the double boiler)
- Fold in opposite ends to cover the herb
- Now fold in one of the open ends, tuck and roll
- Tie the roll of herb tightly with cooking twine (think of it like a burrito or a big joint)
- Fill the bottom pan of a double boiler with water, but allow enough space so that it doesn’t reach the top pan. Set the shallow pan on top. Place over medium heat to a gentle boil.
- Add one cup of coconut oil to the top pan.
- When it looks like the coconut oil has almost melted, add about one cup of water. Continue heating until all of the coconut oil is melted.
- Add the herb packet. Press it down gently into the mixture using a spoon.
- Cover the boiler and let it cook for 90 minutes. Flip over the packet and stir it around gently every half hour. Be sure that the bottom pan isn’t boiling too hard and that the water level is OK.
- After 90 minutes, turn off the heat, remove the herb packet and place it in a bowl. Using a spoon, squeeze out any oil that was soaked up by the “herb packet” by pressing on it. Waste not! Add this precious liquid back into mixture.
- Put the mixture in the fridge. When it has cooled, the water and oil will have separated. You should see dirty looking water on the bottom, but a nice green solidified oil on the top). Very lightly poke two or three holes through the oil and drain the water off.
- Store in an airtight container such as a Mason jar.