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Avoid these 7 common mistakes while cooking cannabis edibles

September 28, 2017
(Pekic/iStock)
For years, I prepared my homemade cannabis edibles with the same process, blind to the small mistakes I was making along the way. Yes, I achieved a product that would do the job (sometimes too well), but I had no idea that I could improve the flavor and consistency all while conserving time, money, and product by tweaking just a few steps along the way. All it took was putting the cooking utensils down for a few hours and listening to a pro.

A few months back, I attended the Puff, Pass & Bake class led by Chef Torrin Panico, who led us through the process of cooking cannabis oil properly while addressing some common missteps along the way. As soon as I understood the basic science of decarboxylation and infusion, I saw all of the flaws in my own process.

There isn’t one right way to make quality cannabis edibles; experimentation, trial, and error are all a part of the craft. But consider these cooking tips and see if it changes your batch for the better.

Related

Recipe: How to make basic cannabis-infused butter

Mistake #1: Spending too much money on flower for cannabis edibles

Solution: A little goes a long way

I hear plenty of tragic tales of people throwing a half ounce of cannabis into a slow cooker thinking that’s how much cannabis it takes to make a cup of infused butter. Remember this ratio instead:

  • 1:1 – 1 cup of oil to 1 cup of ground cannabis (about 7-10 grams)

Lipids in the oil can only bind with so many cannabinoids, so exceeding this ratio is, by some standards, wasteful.

Buying less cannabis is one way to save money, but if you’d like to save even more, consider infusing your oil with cannabis stems, trim, or with cannabis flower that’s been vaporized (called “ABV,” or “already been vaped” cannabis).

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Mistake #2: Throwing ground cannabis straight in the slow-cooker

Solution: Decarboxylate cannabis in the oven first

Before cooking with cannabis, you must decarboxylate it. First, let’s be clear: don’t just throw unactivated, raw flower into your batter or dish. Not only will it taste bad, it won’t allow the cannabinoids to fully activate and bind to lipids. That means you won’t feel much of anything and will have only succeeded in wasting precious cannabis.

Many people know to decarboxylate cannabis in the oven first, but it’s worth noting here for anyone who doesn’t know or doesn’t see the point in doing so. You can skip this step and add your raw cannabis to the slow cooker to decarb in the oil, but you might find that this longer oil soak simply worsens the taste of your cannabis oil. It’s also more difficult to control the temperature in a slow cooker and you risk burning off essential cannabinoids, but in an oven, you can set the temperature low and keep it steady.

Related

What is decarboxylation, and why does your cannabis need it?

Mistake #3: Heating and decarbing at the wrong temperatures

Solution: Know how hot and how long to heat your cannabis and cannabutter

Not only is it crucial to decarboxylate your cannabis before cooking with it, you have to decarboxylate it correctly. That means setting your oven to the right temperature, letting it heat for long enough, and mixing it to activate the most surface area. Generally speaking, you want to:

  • Heat the oven to 245°F (120°C)
  • Cook for 30 to 40 minutes
  • Mix the buds every 10 minutes

If you’re tight on time, you can set the oven to 300°F (150°C) and cook for 10 to 18 minutes, stirring every five minutes–but the low-and-slow method is always best when dealing with delicate cannabinoids.

When steeping the ground cannabis in oil, try to maintain a temperature between  160-200°F (low or medium on a slow cooker). Use a thermometer to check the temperature and let it cook for about three hours with the cover removed.

Related

Why Low Temperatures Are So Important for Dabbing

Mistake #4: Grinding your cannabis into powder

Solution: Use a hand grinder for a more coarse grind

Ever wonder why your edibles have a strong grassy flavor? The grind of your cannabis might be too fine. Pulverizing your cannabis with a food processor or a coffee grinder until it’s a powder will:

  • Introduce chlorophyll to your oil, lending a strong plant-like taste
  • Cause your butter or oil to turn green (which may look appealing, but at the cost of flavor)
  • Make it impossible to strain unwanted, bad-tasting plant material

Once your cannabis has decarboxylated in the oven, grind it coarsely with a hand grinder. Cannabinoids readily bind to the oil’s fats, and a coarse grind will allow it to effectively absorb without pulling in unwanted plant material.

Related

10 Ways to Break Up Your Cannabis if You Don’t Have a Grinder

Mistake #5: Improperly straining the oil

Solution: Strain with cheesecloth and let gravity do the work

Once you’ve infused your oil, it’s time to strain out the plant material. Cheesecloth is often recommended because it allows oil to pass through while separating it from the ground plant material, but only if you let gravity do the straining for you. Don’t squeeze the cheesecloth to get every drop of oil out. Milking it like this will push out a little more oil but a lot more plant material.

Related

Indica vs. Sativa Cannabis Edibles: Will They Affect You Differently?

Mistake #6: Baking too little oil into your dish–or, God forbid, way too much

Solution: Test the oil’s potency before incorporating it into a dish

Eating homemade edibles doesn’t have to be like Russian Roulette. You can run a “strand test” beforehand to gage how much infused oil you’ll need in your recipe based on its potency. Here’s how.

Take 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of your oil as a personal dose and add it to a food or drink. Wait an hour and see how you feel. This will help you determine what an appropriate single dose would be. Once you’ve determined how much oil yields your desired effects, multiply that dose per serving if making a shareable batch (if making a cake, pizza, a pitcher, etc.). Or simply scoop that perfect dose onto each individual dish (if infusing a plate of pasta, a cup of coffee, a piece of toast, etc.).

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Mistake #7: Uneven distribution of potency in an infused batch

Solution: Stir well. Really, really well.

We’ve all been there: you made a perfectly good batch of cannabutter for your brownies, but after eating an entire piece, you don’t feel a thing. So you eat another, and still don’t feel a thing. Your friend, however, ate half a one and is somewhere in the cosmos. What happened?

You probably didn’t stir the batter well enough. If making a batch of infused food, stir like your life depended on it. This will ensure that the oil is distributed evenly across the batch and that your perfect dose makes it into each individual slice.

If you aspire to perfect your infused dishes, be sure to stop by a Puff, Pass & Bake cooking class in Denver, CO, or Las Vegas, NV, to learn all the secrets (while having a jolly good time with other stoned people). When it comes to cannabis and cooking, there’s always more to learn.

Bailey Rahn's Bio Image

Bailey Rahn

Bailey is a senior content manager at Leafly, specializing in strains and health. She's spent 7+ years researching cannabis products, spreading patients’ stories, and exploring healthy ways of integrating cannabis into daily life.

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  • lovingc

    Over thinking the process. Whole buds and oil in a jar in boiling water or slightly less, for four hr.s the cannabis is decarbed in the jar. No grinding , use a french press coffee pot to filter and pour the oil into the recipe. Works great.

    • Shellie Peuhs

      Hey there, i was wondering if you wouldnt mind explaining your method start to finish either here or to my email?. Im trying to help my brother with some health issues and he cant smoke/vape due to lung issues, i think edibles would be best for him. never done this before all new to me. and info would be helpful. Thank you in advance, Shellie

    • Lynne M.S

      Hi lovingc. just seeking advices or your methods. I know this is an old post, but just wondering if you would share your process. I’m new to ”cooking or baking” . (lynnesauve@gmail.com) Thanks

  • dcard88

    Letting gravity push all the oil through the cheese cloth would waste about 50% of the THC. I squeeze it VERY hard to get almost all the oil out. Ginger cookies and carrot cake are excellent for masking the mj flavor.

    • EasyTurbo

      I do a second round of just boiling the plant matter and restrain to separate the plant matter from the oil. I’ve gotten significant amounts of oil back in return.

      • UncleAra

        Could you elaborate on this more? Would love to remove as much plant matter as possible

        • EasyTurbo

          I do an initial separation with a sieve and put that aside, unmolested.

          Then I put the left over plant material in a pot and add enough water to cover it, boil it for about 3 minutes and then sieve it again into a different container. I do this three times.

          Refrigerate overnight and then remove the solidified butter and add it to the separation that I made initially, it reclaims about 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup each time.

  • Great information! Cooking is my one greatest pleasures. I’m really enjoying sharing my recipes on my new blog link found on my profile.

    • Gator B.

      Hi! I just checked your blog out and it looks awesome! I hope you continue on with your badass cooking style, writing, & recipes! Thank you!
      Bruce

  • LynnC

    I am confused. Once I decarb in the oven, do I then cook on stove with the butter in order to get cannabutter?

  • Brian

    Cannabinoids are not stable in a solution.

    • Matte Gallians

      Cannabinoids do dissolve in non-polar liquids like olive oil, butter (molten) and any other kind of fat (coconut, cocoa, seeds oil, etc.), my friend

      • Brian

        Cannabinoids are just like vitamin c its stable in dry form but once its in a solution it breaks down into other things in just a few hours.

  • Nicole Lewis

    I can totally relate to this. I often experience these kinds of mistake while cooking cannabis edibles. This is actually a good reminder for everyone. Now, we can put a little more improvement when it comes to cooking cannabis edibles. Thanks!

  • Erica Mahoney

    when cooking on the stove lid on or off??

    • Rhea Graham

      Off, so you don’t get condensation dripping in your oil.

  • Erica Mahoney

    my canna coconut oi came out very dark. It’s pretty much black, did I burn it?

  • LA Lee

    after baking can you cool it and make butter later?

  • frambley1

    My understanding is that when you infuse an oil based food product, the THC binds with the oil molecules.You can then strain it to remove the plant matter that no longer has THC in it. So that just makes it a more appealing food product/ingredient. So if you don’t mind the taste, and don’t mind ingesting the plant matter, there is no problem with ingesting it after decarbing it.

  • Robyn Meissner

    I was wondering if I could mix oil into butter and use that for baking?

  • Angie

    Can I decarb cannibis that’s been ground already? Might’ve been a little eager, read the steps, not remembered them in order, and here I am ready to go but???

  • B GRiFF 🔜 sleep

    firstly i want to start off saying, i never once have ever decarbed my shake/bud/etc in the stove before (although i know most people do)…that being said, my edibles always turn out super strong and normally i have a very high tolerance for edibles….now i’m not saying this will work for everyone, this instance just has always worked for me….i also want to agree in saying, OVER THINKING is REALLY the biggest downfall when making these things, it’s so easy to get in your own head, so just keep in mind you’ll never succeed without first failing a few times

  • Kelly Meek Simmons

    I tried the canna butter for the first time . Used 1 cup pot , 1 cup butter , one cup water . I got stoned licking the spoon after each stir , but it came out like oil instead of butter . It said 1 cup pot , after baking in oven & grinding it came out to be 3/4 of a cup . I only got 1/4 of a pint jar of oil /butter & it was black 🙁 I am thinking too much pot , can I put the 1/4 jar back in pan with 2 more sticks butter & a cup of water to try & make it a better consistency ?? Also tried 1/8 tsp. first , nothing , then tried 1/4 tsp. still nothing , wondering if all the good stuff is in the bottom of jar or if I just ruined an ounce of smoke ??

  • KEVIN TOBIASON

    I have a simple question to which I cannot find a consistent simple answer:

    I make my coconut cana oil in a double boiler.

    My question is simply:

    Is longer better?

    I have been leaving it on for around 5 hours… but last time I left it on for 9 hours… but instead of being stronger it seemed much weaker.

    Does any one actually know whether there is a point of dimishing returns in terms of the potency of the infusion?