Cannabis Edibles The Basics
Almost everyone is familiar with the practice of smoking cannabis, though the herb can also be bought from urbanaroma.com and thereafter cooked into food to access its euphoric or medicinal benefits. Have you ever wondered, though, why most cannabis edible goods, or “medibles”, are in sweet or candy form? As Mary Poppins told us, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” But there is actually a science behind it.
The famously psychoactive molecule tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is not water-soluble, so boiling weed in water like tea won’t create the desired effects. However, if you were to add whole milk, some THC would dissolve in the fat, and you could create a kind of chai canna-tea. Sugar would make it taste better.
But making tea is not the most effective or pleasant-tasting way to consume cannabis. What most folks think of when they think of edibles is the time-honored bud brownie. Brownies are made with a lot of butter, so truly anything made with butter can be made into a “special” treat.
Why are brownies so popular? The sugar helps make anything taste better, counteracting the bitterness of the plant material. Chocolate can help also mask the flavor and is an additional mood enhancer in its own right. Milk helps with absorption.
But there are so many other ways to take your medicine that the only limit is your imagination. The key thing to remember is that fat or alcohol in the recipe is crucial, as THC readily absorbs in both solvents. Any cannabis-infused oils, butter, or liqueurs will help you get the most out of your bud.
But how to get it into one of those three foods?
The Internet, of course, overflows with advice. But everyone can agree that the bud must be subjected to decarboxylation or decarb. This is a chemical transformation that occurs with time, drying, and especially heat. It creates THC from its non-psychoactive acid form, THCA, which is the only form present in raw, fresh cannabis.
Here’s a basic decarboxylation guide for your convenience. Note that longer baking times at higher temperatures will cause degradation of THC to non-euphoric cannabinol (CBN)—a superior soporific, or sleep aid. Most commercially available cannabis strains have been bred to be high in THC and very low in the anti-THC relaxant and “miracle medical molecule” known as cannabidiol (CBD). Like CBN, it is non-psychoactive. If you have a high-CBD strain, you can decarb for that cannabinoid as well:
Target Temperature Minutes THC 240°F/120°C 30-45 CBD 280°F/140°C 60-90 CBN 320°F/160°C 90-120
Consuming THC in food magnifies the effects. When the liver processes it, the THC gets converted into 11-hydroxy-THC, making it up to five times more potent, so it’s always important to remember that a little goes a long way. Start low, and go slow. It’s not difficult to accidentally eat too much, which can make for uncomfortable several hours.
If that happens, recall that cannabis has no fatal dose. (That hasn’t stopped plenty of people from attempting to find one, ingesting a truly wasteful amount of herb…yet, in the whole of recorded history, not one person has died from it. This remarkable level of safety, not found in substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and sugar, is part of the foundation for the modern view that cannabis should be removed from the government’s list of harmful drugs. —Ed.)
For some odd reason, fear of dying—or of having already done so—is sometimes reported by those who have severely overindulged. In such a case the best thing to do is: RELAX. Do not call 911 and inform the police that you have died from eating too much weed. Doing that will very quickly make you even LESS comfortable, physically and mentally, and perhaps financially. Just trust that the effects will wear off in a while. Eat some pine nuts or pistachios, drink some citrus juice, and hit the hay. You’ll be OK the next day.
So, having decarbed your bud, it’s time to extract. You could do it the slow, old-fashioned way, on the stovetop or with a Crock-Pot. But this method is deceptively labor-intensive and imprecise at best and could ruin your valuable raw materials and your day.
Take it easy, make it easy
The easiest, most consistent method is to use a Botanical Extractor from MagicalButter.com, the first countertop device to create herbal infusions at the touch of a button, imbuing cannabinoids and terpenoids into butter, oils, or tinctures. Actually, you can use just about any type of herb or fruit. It’s up to you, but the process will be complete in only an hour or so, and you don’t have to babysit the machine. (It does provide an entertaining light show that lasts throughout the cooking cycle, though. Again, it’s up to you.)
Once you have your infused butter or oil, it’s on! Every course can be enhanced, if you like. Use your imagination. Maybe you could make a real-life Harry Potter butterbeer?
You can create sweet, succulent, and savory dishes; they can be vegetarian, vegan, or even macro-biotic. Chefs around the country are making seven-course meals using oils, butter, and tinctures for medicinal as well as discretionary purposes. Use your imagination, and have fun!