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Home News The top 7 things to know when cooking with cannabis
Nov 20, 2019 Updated on Jul 28, 2021 6 min read

The top 7 things to know when cooking with cannabis

author
by Ben Hartman
Scientifically reviewed by Minchul An, PharmD
Intro to cooking with cannabis

Food and cannabis combine so many of the greatest experiences that life can offer – spending time with loved ones, seeing just how much magic you can get out of a single bowl, the rush of joy when everything comes together just right. 

In recent years, legalization has marched from coast to coast and people from all walks of life have learned about the joys of cooking and eating weed. And just like that, edibles have become their own cookbook category and genre of Netflix cooking shows, and an ever more popular way to consume cannabis, especially for people who were always turned off by the idea of smoking weed. 

With so many of us now trying our hand at cooking with cannabis, here are some basic tips:

1. Choose the right cannabis 

Any great cook will say that ingredients are every bit as important as technique if not more, and the same goes for cooking with marijuana. 

  • If you’re looking for a more potent batch, then consider high THC cannabis flower. 
  • If you’d like a more mild batch, then you may want to use flower that has a higher CBD to THC ratio. 
  • If there are particular terpenes that you are looking for, then purchase your flower or cannabis oil from a company that provides a certificate of analysis that shows the terpene and minor cannabinoids profile. 

2. Cannabutter or Cannabis oil – how to decide 

Because cannabinoids like THC and CBD are fat-soluble compounds, they depend on fats in order to become available to the body (unless you’re using a cannabis tincture in your recipe). This is why cannabis infused butter (“cannabutter”) and infused oils feature so prominently in recipes for edibles. 

There isn’t one specific reason why you should choose butter over oil or vice versa, rather, it depends mainly on the type of recipe you’re making. 

  • Just like “normal” butter, cannabis butter is better suited to baked goods like pot brownies, weed chocolate chip cookies, or anywhere else where that rich, buttery goodness is an essential ingredient. 
  • Infused olive or coconut oil are best in the types of recipes where you’d usually use them – THC pasta sauce, sauteed vegetables, or as the key ingredient in a truly memorable bottle of vinaigrette.  

There is also the matter of personal preferences. People who are lactose intolerant or would like a healthier option may prefer infused coconut or olive oil, while those who like to add a generous dollop of butter to every dish may find they prefer cannabutter. 

3. Seriously, don’t forget to decarboxylate 

Though you may have seen otherwise in movies, you can’t simply eat raw cannabis flower as is and expect to get high. Instead, the flower must go through a chemical process called decarboxylation, in which it is heated up in order to convert the cannabinoid THCA to THC. This process takes place  instantly when you inhale due to combustion from smoke or heat from vaporization), but with edibles it is a separate process that must be carried out beforehand. 

Decarboxylation basically just entails grinding up some cannabis and heating it in the oven for about 30-45 minutes at around 220-245°F (105-120°C). Check to see how much cannabis the recipe calls for and keep a watchful eye on the oven so the flower doesn’t scorch. 

Decarboxylation: How to activate cannabis/THC

4. Choose the right recipe 

Are you looking to prepare edibles to be served at a one-off event like a dinner party and which can be shared easily? Are you making edibles for one? Would you prefer to drink your edibles, or is dessert more your style? When deciding which cannabis recipe to make, you must first figure out what your goals are. 

If you’re looking for a recipe to serve with dinner, then an infused pasta followed by a THC-rich dessert could be a great option. If you’d rather make a large batch of edibles for personal dosing that will keep in the cupboard or fridge for months, then you may want to consider an option like THC gummies

Beyond your goals, choose your edibles recipe like you would with any other recipe. Consider what you eat, what you avoid, which ingredients are must haves, and which you could do without. 

Here are some of our favorite recipes for cooking with weed:

5. How edibles work 

As you may already know, edibles produce a high that is much different from smoking or vaping weed. It can be an intense, long lasting body and mental high that can either make people more relaxed and sleepy or put them in an uneasy and dissatisfied state.  

One of the main reasons edibles hit differently is because of the effects of 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC), a metabolite that is created in your body when THC is metabolized. With smoking, THC enters the bloodstream through your lungs and then makes its way through the body. With edibles, THC enters the digestive tract and travels straight to the liver where it’s  metabolized to 11-hydroxy-THC. 

This metabolite produces a different high than THC, and it’s all thanks to the way our bodies break down edibles. 

cannabis gummies
With edibles, THC enters the digestive tract and travels straight to the liver where it’s metabolized to 11-hydroxy-THC. This metabolite produces a different high than THC

6. Be patient and know your limits 

Because they have to be metabolized in the digestive system, edibles can take a long time to kick in, at times well over an hour. When eating edibles – especially if it’s your first time with a new batch – make sure to take your time and wait at least an hour and a half to see how you’re feeling. You may also want to try a smaller dose than usual when sampling a new batch. 

If you are not a routine cannabis consumer or just aren’t sure about your tolerance, then this becomes even more important. 

The difference between having a positive experience with edibles versus one that will have  you swearing off pot brownies is simply a matter of understanding what you are taking in terms of dose and/or potency with respect to time.

It is very important to know your goals going in, have an idea of how high you’d like to be, and what type of effect you’re going for. Mindful cannabis consumption is well thought out and can truly make all the difference. 

7. How to store edibles 

Like any food product, how you store your edibles is very important. Perishable foods like pot brownies or THC cookies (which contain butter, eggs, and/or dairy) can spoil quickly, so they should either be eaten not long after they’re ready, or stored in the freezer or refrigerator. For baked products like cannabis banana bread, things can go stale pretty quick, so either freeze half or try not to let it linger out on an open counter. 

With cannabis infusions like cannabis olive oil or cannabutter, store them like you would any cooking oil – out of direct sunlight or heat, in a dark bottle in a cool, dry part of the house. 

In general, the main factors that can cause edibles to decay are the same for other foods: heat, air, moisture, light, and time. Treat them like you would any prepared food, and when in doubt, feel free to use the freezer. 

Childproof your edibles 

For parents, the most important aspect of edible storage is making sure that they are kept well out of the reach of children. If you’ve made desserts like cannabis cookies or cake this can be especially tempting to kids – and this is perhaps even more the case with THC gummy bears. If you have kids in the house, make sure to exercise caution. 

The Dos and Don’ts of cooking with weed:

  • Do use the right cannabis ingredients for your goals
  • Do decarboxylate
  • Do know your limits and be patient with dosing
  • Do make sure its food that you would actually enjoy eating – even without weed
  • Do keep edibles away from kids 
  • Don’t put potency over every other consideration, eg. don’t look only at the THC content
  • Don’t rush to take a second dose
  • Don’t forget to decarboxylate
  • Don’t serve edibles to people without them knowing 
  • Don’t leave your edibles where they can fall into the wrong hands

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