A Beginner’s Guide to Cooking with Cannabis

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Cooking with cannabis does not start in your kitchen. It doesn’t start in your flowerpot or grow room. It starts with some study. For one thing, your cannabis is an expensive ingredient, so waste is not your culinary friend. For another, if cannabis is still illegal in your area, you should exercise some discretion.

So, this guide is going to start earlier than the recipe preparation with your “needs to know:”

1.  What do you want out of your edibles? If you value buzz over therapy, you must select a cannabis strain that will benefit you. The heating process will convert the THCA into THC, and too much processing and cooking can destroy it. If you want the comfort and relaxation of CBD, you need a potency that cooking will not reduce too much.

2.  Do you know what strain to buy? If you decide on the THC: CBD ratio you want, you don’t need the most expensive strain that fits that profile. Cooking will deconstruct the cannabis, so you don’t need the top dollar strain.

3.  Do you want the freshest plant? You always want to buy fresh, but you will decarboxylate the cannabis so you will be drying the freshness right out it. You can still use the buds for smoking or other use because you can get what you want from the trim, kief, and debris.

4.  Do you know where to get help? There are hundreds of recipes online, but your dispensary budtender should be able to advise you on selection and process.

5.  What do I need? Most recipes call for cannabutter or cannabis-infused oil, so you need the kitchen tools and appliances to help. Once you make them, you can store them for use in making edibles with ordinary kitchen supplies.

6.  Where do I start? You are going to cook in your kitchen. It should be clean and contamination-free. You should remove other foods and tools to avoid the transfer of cannabis dust. You must avoid risk to any children in the house.

7.  How do I make cannabutter?  Cannabutter will have the texture of dairy butter and will be used in much the same way butter is used in recipes. You start with 0.05-cups of lightly-salted butter over low heat in a saucepan. Stirring the melting butter over low heat, you add finely ground cannabis buds.

A simple recipe requires 0.25-ounces of ground buds, but if you want medical use, you would double the cannabis amount per pound. After stirring the combination for 45-minutes with a wooden spoon, you strain the mixture into a glass bowl, pressing it lightly through the strainer lined with cheesecloth.

You can use the cannabutter immediately. You should refrigerate it well back on its shelf to keep it cold. Or, you can brew enough to divide into batches freezing them like butter sticks or in ice cube trays for easy use on pasta or in other recipes. If you use additional dairy butter for larger batches, you must simmer the mixture longer.

We put some of our butter mixture into ice cube trays for freezing. We can, then, pop one or two cubes to melt over linguini or ravioli or we spread it on good bread or whole grain biscuits and bagels. The cubes work well for any recipe requiring an ounce or two of butter.

8. How can I make canna oil? There are dozens of recipes, many oils with different tastes and textures, and several processes to making cannabis-infused oils. Coconut oils are sweeter, olive oil lighter, and canola oils healthier. But, if you want to keep it simple, you will use 0.50-ounces of potent cannabis to every 1.25-cups of oil. You will add water to keep the liquid from reaching a boiling point.

To keep it simple, you would cook the oil on a stove top in a Dutch oven. Mix the oil with ground, decarboxylated, and dried cannabis in the upper half of a double boiler with enough distilled water to reach three-inches in depth.

You must keep the mixture simmering in the lidded pot for two to four hours, stirring regularly and adding water as necessary. If you prefer to use a slow cooker, you can reduce watching your pot, but it will take longer.

When ready, you strain the mixture as you did the cannabutter. Oil will always rise to the top so the sediment will settle. You can repeat the straining process to reduce the amount of plant material remaining.

9. Where do I go from here? With cannabutter and cannabis oil in your pantry, you have two key ingredients for cooking just about anything. You would use them in recipes calling

Use your cannabutter immediately or refrigerate or freeze until it is time to use. You can easily scale this recipe up for larger batches of cannabutter. One pound of butter (4 sticks) can absorb 1 ounce of cannabis, but you may want to simmer for up to 60 minutes.

10.  How do you dose? Dosing edibles is crucial. Whether you’re planning brownies, candies, or cake, you must plan on distributing the cannabis content. You cannot risk dosing a single brownie with ten times the recommended dosage.

Hempster offers a handy calculator that helps you distribute the amount of a known THC content in individual recipes. If, for example, you prefer to serve edibles with 5mg THC each, you take three grams of ground cannabis and divide it by the recipe yield. 300mg THC would divide into 5mg per cookie in a recipe yielding 60.

However, you must develop a knack for determining how much cannabutter or canna-oil provide that 300mg THC. It makes sense, therefore, to stick to recipes prepared by canna chefs rather than trying to adapt your grandmother’s recipe for brownies.