Cooking with Cannabis
Medicating with Edibles
Consuming medical cannabis offers a great variety of health benefits. There are a few different ways to consume cannabis. Cannabis can be infused into food, and is typically referred to as “edibles”. Or in some cases, cannabis flower and cannabis extracts, such as hashish can be consumed directly in their raw form. Consuming edibles can produce beneficial effects such as pain relief and appetite stimulation. And eating raw cannabis can be especially effective for releasing its anti-inflammatory properties.
Dr. William Courtney’s research in juicing whole cannabis has revealed exciting benefits for cancer treatment. Other studies show that smoking whole-plant cannabis has excellent therapeutic value in treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, while additional research illustrates that consuming acidic (typically in the form of tinctures) or raw cannabinoids provides greater health benefits than merely smoking cannabis.
The effect of the edible consumed depends largely on the unique set of compounds found in the particular cannabis strain used, its quality, and the preparation method. The therapeutic compounds in cannabis are called cannabinoids and terpenoids. The effect of the cannabinoids (such as THC or CBD) is enhanced by the terpenoids (such as myrcene or linalool). The effects can also be enhanced by certain foods. Medicating with cannabis and eating a fresh mango, which is high in the terpenoid myrcene, increases the potency of the cannabinoids in the cannabis.
Be aware that the effects from eating cannabis typically last twice as long as smoked or vaporized cannabis, making edibles an excellent choice for those seeking long-term therapeutic relief.
What Types of Food Can be Medicated?
Any food can be infused with cannabis and there are many ways to do it. Cold water hash is particularly easy to use, for its dosage, infusion and 'suspension'. The term ‘Suspension’ refers to the way a food holds raw cannabis without actually cooking it. You may simply sprinkle cold water hash or kief onto food the way you would any other spice. Or decarboxylated, or heated hash can be easily infused into a variety of foods. Alcohol, vinegar, honey, oil, butter, agave, and even common sauces such as mustard and ketchup all do a great job of suspending cannabis. By following the instructions below, you can have a pantry full of cannabis-infused ingredients ready to use in your favorite recipes. For more resinous hash like Full Melts or Wax extracts, suspension in vinegar, fat or grain alcohol is required.
It’s recommended to prepare meals using the specific strain of cannabis that fits your needs at a given time of day. For example, medicating your breakfast with a sedating indica such as Grape Ape, for example, may not be the best choice if you want to function well in the afternoon. A more uplifting sativa such as a Super Silver Haze or Jack Herer is probably a better choice for breakfast.
How to Cook With Cannabis
All parts of the cannabis plant, from the roots to the fan leaves, can be used in cooking. Depending on cannabinoid and terpene content, percentage of plant matter per gram, you must design an extraction or consumption method to get the desired therapeutic health benefits
Hash is simple to use in many recipes. It can be eaten raw, or decarboxylated in an oven using a Pyrex baking dish for easy transfer and extraction. Bake the hash at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, then remove it from the oven and add the liquid sauce you want to suspend it in. Vinegar, oil, butter, alcohol, honey, fat, syrup, and mustard all make excellent choices.
Another popular method of infusion is the cold brewed tincture. This means steeping the cannabis—using all parts of the plant including leaves and stems—over a period of time in high-proof grain alcohol or in vinegar. Many valuable cannabinoids and terpenoids are present in the leaves and stems, which also contain more plant material and chlorophyll than buds do alone. Use a mason jar to steep the cannabis for a minimum of one month. You can keep it brewing for a year or more if desired.
How To Make Bud Butter
This is a quick and easy way to infuse cannabis into butter on the stovetop. Be sure to use salted butter since it has a higher smoke point, and don't leave your saucepan unattended!
- 1 stick salted butter
- ¼ ounce of cannabis buds, finely ground
Melt the butter on low heat in a saucepan. Add the ground buds and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. Strain the butter into a glass dish. Use a dish that has a tight-fitting lid so you can seal it later. Use the back of a spoon to smash the plant matter against a strainer to squeeze out every drop of butter. Be sure to remove all strained plant matter, which can lead to mold if stored in the refrigerator, and discard it. You can use your cannabudder right away or or refrigerate or freeze it for later use. This recipe can be scaled up for larger batches. One pound of butter (4 sticks) can absorb a whole ounce of cannabis, but you may need to simmer the larger batch for up to 60 minutes. Cannabudder can be used in any recipe.
Slow Simmered Cannabudder
This popular method of water extraction is an easy way to make large batches of budder. Since THC only binds to fat, combining butter, cannabis and water will not dilute its potency. You can also use plant material that has not been finely ground, such as whole leaves and stems. After the extraction has occurred, simply skim the butter off the top. For this method, you will need two large stockpots, a glass bowl and a metal strainer.
- 1 ounce of cannabis, dried, or 2 ounces of trimmed leaf
- 1 lb. unsalted butter
Bring a large pot of water and your cannabis to a boil then reduce heat. Add the butter and return heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer for another hour. Cover the pot, remove from heat and allow to cool. To increase potency, repeat this process twice more, simmering for an hour (each time?) and then cooling again. After completing the third simmering session, prepare for straining while the mixture is still hot. Position a wire mesh strainer over the second stockpot and carefully pour the water, butter and cannabis mixture through the strainer to catch all the plant matter. This is best done over the sink. Use the back of a large spoon to press the cannabis against the mesh and squeeze out the butter. Compost or discard the used plant material.
Next comes the chilling process, which will separate the cannabudder from the water. Use a large glass bowl or pot that will fit in your refrigerator and pour the cannabudder in to it. Refrigerate for 24 hours. The cannabudder will separate and solidify on top of the water. After 24 hours, extract the cannabudder by cutting a chunk out of the top layer and removing it from the water. Repeat until you have all the budder extracted from the mixture. Discard the water and put the budder on paper towels to dry. Remove any budder that seems too mushy and save it for a recipe where excess water is not a problem, such as gooey brownies. Put the chunks of budder in a large sauté pan on LOW heat. Once the budder is viscous, pour it into storage containers such as reusable glass jars. Try portioning one cup of cannabudder into each jar for a consistent, easy-to-use supply.
Methods of THC Extraction
There are a variety of ways to extract cannabinoids and terpenes for use in home cooking. Using a dry sift kief allows for maximum preservation of terpenes and cannabinoids. You will need special equipment for this process, however it is easy to acquire or make yourself. One effective method of extraction is high proof grain alcohol tinctures. Steeping cannabis in alcohol will extract all essential oils, but it also strips chlorophyll. Dried plant material is preferred for this method.
Another effective method is cold water hash or ice hash. This involves bags with screens, filtered water and ice cubes. Fresh frozen material and reverse osmosis water is best. The quality of any cannabis extraction is only as good as the base material used. Sugary stems and leaf material will always produce a better quality extract than water damaged, sun damaged, heat damaged, reused, or old material.
Fat extractions are also possible, but tend to be less predictable than other methods for calculating dosage. One preference is to create a hash that can be lab tested for potency and then suspend or infuse it in a fat. The more viscous a fat is, the faster and more effective the extraction process will be.
A Word about Tinctures
Tinctures are an effective way to utilize all sub-par material. Saving trim leaves and stems for tincture brewing is popular, and there are three main methods used to create a tincture.
First, hash can be suspended in a variety of mediums such as alcohol, vinegar, honey or agave syrup.
Second, you can cold steep your plant material in alcohol or vinegar to extract the terpenes and cannabinoids. This process is slow and involves storage and tending to the tincture, but it yields a tincture high in beneficial acidic cannabinoids without the psychoactive effect.
The third method involves a warm steeping of material in honey, agave, vinegar or alcohol. This method is done at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes and partially decarboxylates the material to provide the health benefits from THC. Remember the quality of your starting material will only be magnified during the tincture brewing process, so quality control is essential.
How Much Cannabis Do I Use?
Every individual has a different tolerance level. Symptoms of illness can also manifest differently at various times based on any number of factors, therefore the correct amount of cannabis to use is subjective. Nevertheless, there are some guidelines to follow. In edibles, a standard dose is defined as 15-25 milligrams of cannabinoids such as THC. However, a moderate or experienced cannabis patient may consume 50-60 milligrams of cannabinoids as a single dose. A person who routinely needs a high dosage of medicine may consume 100-150 milligrams of cannabinoids as a single dose.
Each strain of cannabis has a unique set of terpenoids or essential oils that define its smell and flavor. The unique combination of the terpenoids and cannabinoids are what make each strain valuable for their specific health benefits. Considering the synergy of terpenoids and cannabinoids will increase the effectiveness of any therapeutic application of cannabis.
What Are The Effects?
The effects of cannabis vary greatly based on several factors. First and foremost, hydration is very important when consuming cannabis, so be sure to stay well hydrated with water.
Different types of medicine will have varied effects. Flowers, hash and tinctures all have different effects based on rate of absorption, concentration of cannabinoids and terpenoids, and quality of the medicine used.
It is important to remember that an individual's general state of mind and physical health can influence the effects of cannabis. It is recommended that the minimum dosage is used until the most effective dosage and application is determined.