Edibles are favored in the cannabis community for their dosing ease, long-lasting effects, and, in some cases, extra strength. If you have some flower and other ingredients lying around, you can make your own weed treats in the comfort of your kitchen.
One of the biggest benefits of making homemade cannabis-infused foods is that there is no limit to what you can create. You can make your favorite baked goods or savory dishes using your own homemade cannabis-infusion base, allowing you to reap the benefits of edibles with the culinary experience of your homemade favorites.
But homemade edibles are tricky. Sprinkling dried weed flower into your cookie batter or as an herb atop dishes like pasta simply will not do the trick. The psychoactive component of cannabis, THC, is not so euphoric when it has not undergone a process known as decarboxylation.
Decarbing your weed
Before you can start making edibles at home, you must perform an essential part of any edibles recipe, decarboxylating the weed.
Decarboxylating, or decarbing, weed is the process of using heat to convert the non-psychoactive THCA in raw cannabis into THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the feeling of being “high.”
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that results from two main factors, heat and time. When a cannabinoid decarboxylates, it loses a carboxyl group, which gives it the ability to interact with the body’s receptors through which therapeutic and recreational effects are elicited.
Over a long period of exposure to the elements, cannabinoids will decarboxylate on their own which is why proper cannabis storage is so important. Without airtight storage in a sufficiently sturdy container, cannabis will lose potency as cannabinoids slowly decarboxylate and activate prematurely.
When cannabis is cooked or baked, its active cannabinoids are absorbed through digestion. Decarbing weed also helps reduce the risk of microbiological contaminants. When weed decarboxylates, it loses moisture, which in turn decreases the chance of bacterial growth. Weed is dried and cured for the same reason, though some unwanted activation of cannabinoid, and therefore loss of potency, is inevitable during the curing process.
How to decarb your weed
The most common way to decarb weed is by lightly baking it in the oven. You will need the following supplies:
- An oven
- A baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Cannabis flower (can also use trim or kief)
Once you have assembled the supplies, follow the steps below to properly decarb your bud.
Step 1: Preheat the oven
Set the oven to 235 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the parchment paper on the baking sheet, and spread your weed nugs out across it. Make sure to break up larger pieces with your hands if necessary; you will want even, small-sized buds so that they decarb at roughly the same rate.
Step 2: Put your weed in the oven
Bake your weed for approximately 30 minutes. This should be a sufficient amount of time for well-dried weed. However, please note that if you are using fresher cannabis with more moisture, it could take longer. Monitor it carefully to avoid over-baking it.
Step 3: Remove and let cool
After 30 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let it cool down. The decarboxylation process is now complete, and the majority of the THCA should be converted into THC.
Making cannabis infusions
Once your cannabis has been fully decarbed it is now ready to make an infusion. Cannabis can be infused into virtually any oily or fatty substance. Deciding on which substance to use depends on your personal preference.
Luckily, for just about any oil or fat you would like to use, the process is going to be roughly the same. Refined oils can steep for longer periods of time without degradation of the end product. However, cream or butter infusions need a little more attention.
Coconut oil is a particularly practical choice for its ability to retain a semi-solid structure at room temperature.
First, you will need the following:
- Cannabis (decarboxylated)
- Your fat of choice (oil, cream, butter, etc)
- A double boiler (or a pot filled with water and a heat-proof bowl placed on top)
- Cheesecloth (or a coffee filter)
- Slow cooker (optional)
When making cannabis oil, you want to use a 1:1 ratio of cannabis to oil.
The technique for making an infused oil is simple. Fill your double boiler (or substituting setup) with water and turn it on to a low heat, aiming for a simmer (the temperature of the oil should never exceed 245 degrees Fahrenheit). Place your fat base into the top of the double boiler and then add in your pre-ground, decarbed cannabis.
Once at the desired temperature let your mixture steep, stirring gently but frequently. How long you let the cannabis heat will determine how much THC is removed from the plant, but be aware that longer heating times and higher temperatures will result in additional things such as chlorophyll and lipids leeching out of the plant matter as well. A safe bet is to steep the cannabis for anywhere between 40 minutes to 2 hours.
After you are satisfied with your steeping time remove the mixture from the heat and filter, using either cheesecloth or a coffee filter. The finer grade your filter is the fewer impurities will end up in your final infusion, but the longer the straining time will take.
Your THC-infused oil is now ready to use in any edibles you choose to make. From here the leftover plant material from the infusion can likely take another steep, giving you a second (possibly even third) batch of an infused base; just be aware that additional steeps will be less potent than the first.
This method can also be replicated with a slow cooker. Set your slow cooker to low, or somewhere around 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the oil and ground cannabis. You can also add a little water to help prevent scorching. Stir occasionally. After about 3 hours, turn off the crockpot and wait for the oil to cool.
Cannabis-infused milk or cream
Your methodology will be exactly the same as above, but with the caveat that watching your infusion is highly important. With milk or cream, we recommend using the lowest temperature you feel comfortable with, with the shortest duration as well, as milk will quickly thicken and begin to lose moisture when heated.
If you plan on filtering out and re-steeping the same batch of cannabis then the leftover plant material must be refrigerated; milk can spoil quickly if left at room temperature.
Cannabis-infused butter (cannabutter)
In following recipes for cannabutter the above directions will still work, though there are a few unique features to butter worth mentioning.
Butter contains milk solids; these are the tiny particles inside butter that will begin to brown if it is leftover high heat. You will get a cleaner, clearer end product if you use clarified butter (or ghee) instead.
To clarify butter at home simply place a large amount of butter in a heavy bottom saucepan set over low heat. Once melted, skim off the layer of white foam that forms at the top, repeating until the butter is completely clear.
How to make “firecrackers”
Firecrackers are the easiest edible you can possibly make. It is also the worst tasting. This is because unlike the other forms of edibles, firecrackers involve actually eating ground-up weed. If you just really want to make edibles at home without having to make an infusion this might be your best shot.
To make firecracker edibles you will need the following:
- A package of crackers (Ritz brand, graham crackers, etc.)
- Creamy peanut butter (other kinds of nut butter will also work as well as Nutella spread)
- Ground cannabis (decarboxylated)
Set your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. While your oven pre-heats spread your nut butter onto one of the crackers, then sprinkle over an even coating of your finely ground-up cannabis.
Once applied mix the cannabis into the peanut butter as best you can by using your knife, making sure the flower is completely coated. Apply another thin layer of peanut butter to a second cracker (just enough to get it to stick) and sandwich them together. Make as many more of these as you desire.
Now wrap your assembled cracker tightly in tin foil and place it into the oven for roughly 20 minutes. After your time is up remove the foil packets from the oven and allow them to cool completely before digging in.
How to dose your homemade edibles
Correctly dosing your homemade edibles will impact how much of your cannabis infusions you will want to use. You will have to do a little math to dose your edibles properly. Let’s suppose you start with 10 grams of flower containing 20 percent THC. That would leave you with 2,000 milligrams of THC total.
Keep in mind, along the way you will lose some of the weed’s THC potency by processing it. After decarbing the flower (2,000 x 0.9), you will have 1,800 mg of THC. Following the extraction in oil or butter (1,800 x 0.6), you will have 1,080 mg of THC in that oil, which is sufficient for 216 standard portions containing 5 mg each.
A little cannabis goes a very long way when making edibles. You can reduce the potency in a recipe by increasing the ratio of oil, butter, or cream to weed. You can also shop for cannabis with a low percentage of THC and a higher percentage of CBD. Just make sure to adjust the math accordingly and to double check your numbers.