Whether you are growing weed for yourself or you are a cannabis enthusiast on the lookout for the best buds in town, knowing a bit about the curing process is essential to telling high-quality flowers from a crop that has just been harvested.
The cannabis curing process may take a while but it is this extra effort that helps a weed harvest achieve its maximum potential.
What is curing weed?
Curing weed is an extensive process of removing moisture from buds slowly in a controlled environment.
Curing is a preservation technique that humans have always been using to store degradable items such as meats, typically with the help of salts and sugars. Except, to cure weed you will not need anything else but a jar and optionally a humidity gauge.
Why should weed be cured?
Most of the good things in life come with time and patience. The process of curing can take up to several weeks but the results will make all of the hard work that you have already invested into your plant more worthwhile.
Curing allows for the breakdown of sugars and other byproducts that were produced during the drying process. These byproducts make the buds harsher to smoke.
The flavors of your cannabis are also better upheld after curing. Terpenes are the compounds that give weed its unique flavors and effects. They are quite volatile and are prone to degradation under poor conditions such as high heat and rapid drying. This is why curing is best to do immediately after you have dried your buds to the perfect level of moisture.
Curing buds can also enhance the potency of the high. Over time THC converts into the cannabinoid CBN. This cannabinoid is virtually non-psychoactive, creating very mild feelings of euphoria with greater feelings of relaxation.
Lastly, the curing process helps protect your weed from developing mold by achieving the optimal amount of moisture. If stored correctly, your cured weed can last for about a month without much decline in taste or strength.
Variables that affect the curing process
There are many variables that go into a proper curing process. The following list will help inform you on exactly what determines a successful cure.
Prevent light exposure
It is important to cure your stash in a dark place. UV rays from light are one of the leading causes of cannabinoid and terpene degradation. Store your weed jars in a dark cupboard or box to avoid light exposure. Storing your weed in amber-tinted Mason glass jars will also help block out light.
Protect your stash from heat
If you live in an extremely hot climate then you could run into issues during the cure. Heat is also a major factor that will cause the degradation of cannabinoids. Store your jars in a cool, dark spot in your house if possible. This will help prevent mold from developing due to the high temperatures; keeping your bud at temperatures around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for the curing process.
Maintain optimal humidity
Before you can cure your harvested buds you first need to properly dry them. Buds that are too wet before curing, will most likely lead to a mold infestation. Anaerobic bacteria will completely ruin all of your buds, resulting in a massive waste of time and weed. If you get the smell of ammonia coming from your jars when you open them while curing then this means you have anaerobic bacteria growth.
On the other hand, if you try and cure weed that was dried out too much after harvest then the result will be brittle buds that smoke harshly. Weed should be dried in a dark room with a humidity level between 45-55 percent. This allows for enough moisture to leave the buds but not too much. You want the outside of the nug to feel dry but the inside wet. The curing process will balance the buds out, which should result in an optimal humidity of around 62 percent.
How to dry and cure your cannabis
The process of curing your cannabis flower can be done in a few different ways but the easiest and most effective method is what we will focus on below.
Drying your cannabis
When you harvest your cannabis plant you will want to cut off 12-16 inch branches that contain the buds. Leaving them as longer branches will help the drying process; you can hang them up with string hanging down from the ceiling of your designated drying room. First, remove any unwanted leaves before hanging them. You can also place your clipped branches onto drying racks that were designed for drying weed.
You can trim your buds before or after drying them but after is easier and way less sticky. Your drying room should be dark and cool, with temperatures around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels between 45-55 percent. It is not necessary but it helps to have a fan blowing air around in the room to help distribute the humidity evenly as the buds give off some moisture.
Having a dehumidifier or airconditioning unit will also help you maintain a consistent environment for the drying buds.
When the buds feel a little crispy on the outside and the thinner branches snap when you bend them, then the drying process is complete. Drying can take between 5-15 days depending on the size of the buds as well as the conditions in the drying room.
Curing your cannabis
Once you have determined that your cannabis buds are optimally dry, it is time to cure them. This process can be broken up into the following steps:
- Clip your buds off of the branches and trim off any dark green leaves that are not covered in little crystalized-looking hairs.
- After trimming your buds, place them into an airtight jar. Get an appropriately sized jar for the amount of weed you have. You do not want too much air space in the jar. Loosely pour your buds into the jars, do not pack them down to fit more. If you need multiple jars then do so because you do not want buds being pressed into one another.
- Close your jars and place them in a dark, cool, and dry place.
- For the first several days, open your jars a few times a day to let some fresh air flow inside. This process is called “burping,” and it allows moisture to leave. You may start to notice the buds slowly becoming less crispy on the outside as the remaining moisture that was trapped on the inside of the buds begins to distribute evenly throughout. If you notice the scent of ammonia, it means you did not dry out your buds enough to begin curing and you should continue drying them out first. The last thing you want is to ruin your weed batch at this stage.
After a few weeks, your buds should hopefully be properly cured. If you have a hygrometer (humidity gauge) in your jar then look for a maintained level of around 62 percent humidity. This is ideal and means you have stabilized the moisture level in your buds.
Your weed is now ready to smoke at a high level of standard. The taste and smoothness of smoke will have made the curing process well worth the wait. Some growers like to cure their weed for longer than a few weeks. This can help improve flavors even more so it just depends on how long you want to wait for greatness.