Why You Should Make Edibles
Marijuana is becoming increasingly popular as more and more states and countries legalize it. In addition to its medicinal benefits, it produces a pretty sweet high feeling which can help to melt away stress and anxiety.
But not all of us are into lighting up a joint or buying a dab rig. Edibles are easily the most discreet and palatable way to approach cannabis.
And THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, naturally bonds to fats – it’s like it was made to be consumed!
Common Terms and Acronyms
- THC and THC-A Tetracannabiniol and tetracannabiniolic acid: The psychoactive part of the marijuana plant – it’s what gets you high.
- CBD and CBD-A Cannabidiol and cannabidiolic acid: Often used medicinally and is non-psychoactive.
- RSO Rick Simpson Oil: A concentrate sold in most dispensaries that is pure THC/CBD. It’s great if you want to make edibles without infusions such as cannabutter or cannaoil.
- Flower: bud, weed, grass, herb, ganja, trees. This is the part of the plant we smoke, vape and cook with.
- Decarb or Decarboxylate: The process we use to activate the THC and CBD. (Read below for more detail)
- Hash or Hashish: The resin from cannabis plants. It is traditionally used to infuse food and drink, but is also mixed with cannabis flower for smoking or used for dabbing.
- Kief: The fine dust that gets left over after grinding your bud.
- AVB/ABV: Already Vaped Bud or Already Been Vaped. ie flower that has already been used in a vaporizer
- Sativa: a subspecies of cannabis. Sativa strains give you the “head high” and feel uplifting, energetic, euphoric, and sometimes giggly and creative.
- Indica: a subspecies of cannabis. Indica strains give you the “body high” and are great for relaxation.
- Shatter: a very high THC concentrate. It’s smooth and glassy and used for dabbing.
- Dab: a method of consumption in which you use a rig similar to a bong to smoke shatter, budder, hash and more.
Sativa vs Indica vs Hybrid
So there are lots (and lots and lots) of different strains available and making a decision can sometimes be overwhelming. You’ll often hear the words sativa and indica thrown around. This just denotes the type of cannabis plant and the different variations of high it produces.
Simply put, sativa is the head high for energetic, daytime use. Indica is the nighttime body high and is great for relaxing and inducing couch lock. A fun way to remember it is “your ass will be inda-couch.” Hybrids are a mix of the two strains and often classified as sativa-dominant, indica-dominant or balanced.
However, each individual strain is unique. You may find a sativa strain that has the same effect as an indica or hybrid strain or vice versa. That’s why it’s worth checking out your dispenary’s website or talking to a budtender when you shop. They will include more descriptive words like this strain heightens creativity, or another strain might be especially great at treating insomnia.
Before you shop, just ask yourself a few questions: What do you hope to achieve with cannabis? Are you treating a condition or using it recreationally? What kind of activities do you want to do while high?
It’s also worth mentioning to your budtender if you are new to cannabis, as they can point you towards some great entry-level strains that are more tolerable.
All of that is said with a grain of salt, though. My experiences on this site are anecdotal, and if recent evidence is to be believed, we may not even know the difference between sativa and indica anymore.
Tools You’ll Need
So you’ve got your flower now – hell yeah! Time to get started. You’ll need…
- Instant Pot Pressure Cooker with trivet – this is what I use for my infusions as it reduces the smell considerably, and let’s be real… no one wants to be that asshole that stinks up his neighbors. We have fun, but we’re still respectful.
- Mason jars – for decarbing and infusing your bud in the Instant Pot
- Kitchen scale – very important for weighing and measuring, especially if cooking with whole flower
- Panty hose – clean ones ya nasties – a useful sieve when decarbing
- Sunflower lecithin – it increases the potency of your infusions
- Fine mesh strainer – for straining, obvs
- Cheesecloth – for more straining, because excess plant material in your infusions make them taste very strong.
- A way to grind your herb, whether that’s a traditional grinder, coffee grinder, food processor or just your hands
Optional, but fun to have
- Butter molds – extremely useful for measuring out specific amounts
- Fun candy molds – because why not?
- tCheck – a device that measures the potency of your infusions
- Sous vide circulator – another smell-proof method of infusing
Alright, so there’s a lot of debate as to whether or not this step is even necessary. But until I can test further, I am in the pro-decarb group. Decarboxylating or decarbing is the process in which we activate the THC or CBD.
Because just eating straight flower won’t get you high.
In order to get the medicinal and psychoactive effects of cannabis, it has to be heated to approximately 220°F and must be sustained for 30-45 minutes. At that point the THCA and/or CBDA activates and turns into THC/CBD.
Side note: The curing process most growers use will activate some of the cannabinoids, so in some cases eating enough straight flower will get you high. But it’s highly inefficient and decarbing will activate exponentially more THC/CBD, thus giving you way more bang for your buck.
You can do this easily by baking it on a sheet pan in the oven, but if smell is a concern for you I suggest using the Instant Pot or sous vide method. Decarbing in mason jars greatly reduces odor. I use the Instant Pot method in my recipes, and each of my infusion recipes include the steps to decarb.
And just like it needs heat to activate, too much can kill it. The sweet spot is between 220-300°F. Over 300°F, the cannabinoids (like THC) and terpenes will start to degrade. This is the primary reason we don’t recommend using cannabutter or cannaoil with direct heat – I’d never use cannabutter to sear a steak or saute veggies.
But baking with it is absolutely fine. Even though the oven may be set to 350°F or higher, the internal temperature of your baked goods will never reach that (unless you burn the shit out of them, at which point you have much bigger concerns… like, ya know, burning down the house).
Types of Infusions
Once decarboxylation takes place, the applications are endless. Infusing your weed takes the active ingredient(s), THC and/or CBD, from the flower and puts it in the tasty vehicle of your choice. The most popular infusion is cannabutter, since many baked goods use cannabutter and the flavors are often enough to mask the cannabis flavor.
But there’s also cannabis infused coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, honey, and alcohol based tinctures.
And after decarbing, just eating straight flower will get you high.
So which method is right for you? That depends on a variety of things, like your preferred method of ingestion (finger foods, drinks, sweet or savory foods) and how hands on you want to be in the kitchen.
Tinctures are the most hands-off, but also require a long wait. 7 days to be exact. Once your flower is decarbed, freezing it in pure grain alcohol will yield an awesome, mildly flavored tincture great for adding to drinks or recipes that don’t use butter or oil.
Cannabutter is by far the most popular, and it’s no surprise. You can find a way to get cannabutter into most baked goods and it’s great for topping or stirring into savory foods. I always use unsalted butter for infusing. Remember that you can add salt, but you can’t take it away.
Cannaoils, including coconut oil, olive oil and vegetable oil are all used almost interchangeably. Some oils are much better in certain applications such as olive oil in a pesto, but in most cases they can be swapped. I’ve found that coconut oil has the mildest flavor with the caveat that in order to properly measure it you have to melt it every time.
Infused honey is made by combining infused cannabis coconut oil and honey. It’s a fantastic finishing sauce for topping things like ice cream, pancakes/waffles/french toast, croissants, adding to tea and more.
Cooking with RSO
RSO, or Rick Simpson Oil, is the most discreet and accessible way to approach edibles. No decarbing, no infusing, and no mess. The trade-off is that it’s more expensive and infusing with straight flower can yield anywhere from 2-3x the amount of THC you get in RSO.
But when smell and discretion are crucial and you’re not interested in the effects of a particular strain, RSO is a wonderful choice. Most dispensaries sell it by their concentrates and it looks kind of like a syringe.
It’s very, very sticky so in order to make sure each dish gets properly dosed, I like to melt it in a fat (butter, oil, lard, etc). Each dose is only about the size of a grain of rice, so if you’re feeding multiple people getting it adequately mixed is key.
Gumming it is also an option if you want to skip the cooking process entirely – which is totally cool. But cooking is so fun and infused foods are a tasty way to digest it.
PS – You can also make your own RSO! But that’s a discussion for another day.
How to Dose
Dosing is really important and proper dosing can mean the difference between having a fun time and greening out (getting sick or uncomfortable). For beginners the recommended dose is around 5mg per person. Once you try it you’ll get a better understanding of what you can handle and can adjust appropriately.
But doing the math can be overwhelming.
First you have to calculate the potency of your bud in mg. Then you have to use the rate of conversion of THC-A to THC, and consider that home infusions generally only have about 60% efficiency of extraction.
And once you finally get the total number of mg of THC in your infusion, you can use a simple calculation based on how many tsp or Tbsp are in your recipe.
I know – it’s confusing af.
Here’s what you can do. Sign up for my email list to get my free printable dosing guide, print it out, laminate it, and stick it on your fridge with a dry erase marker. I’ve got all the equations with helpful little blanks to tell you what to do.
All you’ll need to know beforehand is the amount of flower you have, its potency (dispensary purchases will have the % printed on the package, but we have a handy guide for estimating this if you need it), and the amount of butter, oil, etc you will be infusing.
But if you want to eliminate all the confusion and have a few dollars to spare, check out tCheck. It’s a little device that measures the potency of your infusions at home so you know what you’re getting every time.
Cannabis Best Practices
Start low and go slow. You can always have more, but you can’t take it back. A typical beginner’s dose is 5-10 mg.
Edibles can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to come into effect. Be patient, set a timer if you have to, and enjoy the ride!