Just like any other food item, there are food safety issues and shelf life to consider with cannabis edibles — even if you’re talking about a THC-infused Twinkie.
If you’re stocking up your cupboard you may be wondering: how long will edibles last, can edibles expire, and what are the best ways to store them?
Tips for storing edibles
When it comes to keeping your edibles safe, stick to some basic principles:
- With store-bought edibles, check the expiration date and any tips the producer has for extending the shelf life
- Use an airtight container
- Keep the edibles out of light, heat, and away from humidity
- Make sure to store them safely out of reach of children
- Consider using a lockable, freshness protecting storage box
- If it smells bad, toss it
Does weed expire?
As organic plant matter, cannabis flower has a shelf life. It can lose potency in time and it can get stale and dried out, producing a harsh, unpleasant smoke. How long cannabis flowers last depends on a number of factors that are also relevant for edibles.
The main factors affecting shelf life are light, heat, air, and moisture. If you want to keep your weed as fresh as possible, make sure to keep it sealed in an airtight container in a dark, cool place. Those same principles apply to edibles, though they play out differently for cannabis flower.
How long do edibles stay good for?
The shelf life of edibles can vary widely depending on whether or not they were store bought or homemade and what ingredients they contain.
Store bought edibles are more likely to contain preservatives to keep them fresh even after months on the dispensary shelf. They may also come in airtight packaging that seals out light and moisture.
With homemade edibles, chances are you won’t be adding any preservatives that can stave off microbes or prevent moisture buildup. The shelf life on a pan of homemade brownies will thus be shorter than the store bought version.
What makes edibles go bad?
Like any grocery store item, the shelf life of edibles also depends on the type of food. If the food item contains milk, butter, or eggs, you can expect a shorter shelf life of around a week. If the edible is a baked good like a cookie or cupcake, factor in the fact that it can go stale within a matter of days.
Other edibles fare much better. Cannabis hard candies can survive for a very, very long time without going bad, just like their sober candy store counterparts. Cannabis mints should also be in it for the long haul. And as long as they are kept out of the heat, gummies should last for months.
Cannabis beverages can be a bit trickier. If they’ve already been opened they can go flat or spoil even in the refrigerator. If you don’t consume your beverage in one sitting, then you should finish it off fairly soon after.
What does it mean for edibles to go bad?
“To go bad” arguably refers to two things: how the food product itself spoils in time, and how the cannabinoids in it degrade, potentially affecting potency.
With spoiled dairy products, this can mean an upset stomach, or possibly nausea or diarrhea. Eggs can also be dangerous if they turn, but if they were baked into your food this should not be a concern. Mainly, with baked goods and desserts, they will get stale and lose their flavor and texture with time.
If your edibles contain any sort of fresh fruit or vegetables, you can expect them to have a short shelf life, especially if kept out on the counter or if they are exposed to light. Eating spoiled fruit could also result in food poisoning-like symptoms, such as diarrhea, upset stomach, and vomiting or nausea.
Cannabinoids can also degrade with time, but most likely not significantly by the time you consume the edibles in question. Although not specifically about edibles, one study found that the THC in cannabis stored at room temperature decreases by a rate of 3-5% per month, primarily degrading into other cannabinoids like CBN. Another study that looked at cannabis oils found that nearly one-quarter of THC and 13% of CBD was lost after a year of being stored above 71.6°F (22°C).
Cannabinoid content aside, you should definitely not be storing edibles, particularly homemade ones, for such a long time at those temperatures.
Can you freeze edibles?
You absolutely can freeze edibles without robbing them of their potency, though the taste may suffer depending on what type of food it is.
The freezer is arguably the best option for stretching out the shelf life of perishable edibles that contain bread, dairy, or eggs — like brownies, cookies, or space cake. Just make sure that the container is airtight in order to keep any condensation from getting in.
The freezer can also be a great place to store cannabutter or cannabis oil. An easy storage tip for both is to pour them into ice trays and place them in the freezer, where they can be plopped out in single servings when need be. (Just make sure to take them out of the ice tray once they’re frozen so they don’t get freezer burned.)
Keep your edibles safe from kids
To save your kids a trip to the doctor — and yourself a housecall from Child Protective Services — make sure to keep your edibles stashed well out of reach of children. You may even consider a locked, secured storage box if possible.
This is especially true if you purchased store bought edibles like “medicated Nerds ropes” or infused Sour-Patch Kids that look just like the real thing even to full-grown adults, much less to kids.
Any parent will tell you that kids can get into all types of places in the house that would seem inaccessible, so try to put a little extra effort into stashing your edibles. If they come in a package that looks like a normal store bought candy, consider dumping them out into a less appealing container before stashing them.
Storage boxes for weed and edibles
To preserve the shelf life, any airtight, non-clear container can be good enough, but a lockable storage box can also help keep your edibles from falling into the wrong hands.
Boxes like the Kulbi Blackbox are both smell proof and waterproof to keep the contents safe, and have a locking zipper to keep prying hands out. A simple lockable wood box could also do the trick as could this discrete, smell proof lockable travel case. One thing to keep in mind though: Anyone who remembers being a kid can tell you that a locked box in their parent’s closet may seem more of a dare than an obstacle. If you’d really like to keep things safe and incognito, consider a decoy stash spot like a faux shaving cream can or deodorant stick.
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