Marijuana oil — AKA canna-oil, or weed oil to use a more slacker term, is a staple of many cannabis recipes. Since THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, is fat soluble, edible oils make ideal ways to bond it to food. Likewise marijuana oils are the backbone of many medicated foods. With these staples stored in your refrigerator or freezer you’re always ready to cook with cannabis.
What Kind of Oil and Marijuana is Best?
I am always asked what kind of oil is best to infuse. That depends what you are going to use it for. A neutral oil like canola, grapeseed, or vegetable oil is most versatile as you can use it most any recipe calling for oil. For additional flavor elements, olive oil is a great choice. You can even infuse solid at room temperature fats like coconut oil or vegetable shortening. Use whatever works best for what you are planning to cook with it.
As to the cannabis plant material itself, you can cook with any kind of marijuana from trimmings to flowers. You will need to adjust the amount used depending on the potency of the plant and what parts of it you are using. Check out the Understanding Cannabis Dosages page for additional information and dose ranges.
I’ve listed the amounts I use to test the recipes for this blog as well as those in The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook. You can and should alter the suggested amounts to meet your needs, but these will give you a starting guideline.
To Make About 1 Cup Marijuana Oil:
- 1 1/4 cups oil, olive, vegetable, canola, grapeseed, coconut, etc.
- 1 ounce average to high quality trim or low quality dried bud; OR 1/2 ounce average quality dried bud
- About 4 cups water
Why Add Water When Making Marijuana Oil?
You might be wondering why I include water as an ingredient. Including water, especially when infusing marijuana oil on the stovetop, insures the cannabis will never reach a higher temperature than the boiling point or 212 degrees F. More importantly, the chlorophyll and terpenes – the parts of the plant that give it its flavor and color — are water soluble and most will likewise bind to water during the cooking process instead of infusing themselves into the fats along with the THC. This will mean less herbal flavor and green color in the finished marijuana oil.
Nonetheless, even when using water in the mix the marijuana oil might still appear quite green. The shade of green will vary from strain to strain with some coming out pale green or almost yellow, while other marijuana oils will take on a deep forest green color. Keep in mind, however, that color has nothing to do with potency.
Another reason to use this technique is without water in the mix, the plant material tends absorbs too much of the oil. This means usable product is going into the trash, a problem that’s reduced when adding water. The increased liquid volume also gives cooks the option to add more plant material in order to make more concentrated infusions if they wish.
How to Make Marijuana Oil
Cannabis Oil – Slow Cooker Method (best choice): Add oil, marijuana plant material, and water to the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 to 8 hours. I know some cooks who cook their oil for as much as 2 or 3 days in the slow cooker. Feel free to do so if you choose. It seems like overkill to me and after having tested longer cooking times, I found no improvement in quality or potency. In fact, I noticed a stronger herbal flavor and not much else. You can actually cook for less time, just make sure your mixture has time to come to a full simmer.
Cannabis Oil – Stovetop Method: Place oil, cannabis plant material, and water in a large lidded Dutch oven on the stove top. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low and simmer for 2 to 4 hours. Take care and monitor the liquid level often, adding water as necessary to always keep at least 3 cups in the pot. Simmering marijuana on the stovetop is very aromatic. If you’re worried about nosy neighbors wondering what you are up to, cook other strong smelling foods such as roasting garlic at the same time in order to help camouflage the smell. Better still, use a slow cooker.
Draining and Straining Cannaoil
The method of draining is identical for stovetop and slow cooker methods. Place a cheesecloth lined strainer over a large pot or bowl and strain the liquid through this. Before discarding plant material, pour a large kettle full of boiling water over the full strainer in order to wash through any extra oil clinging to the plant material. Allow to cool then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the plant material. If you are using a solid at room temperature fat like coconut oil or shortening, chill water and oil. The infused oil will harden into a solid when chilled making it easy for you to simply lift the piece off of the water below and discard the water.
In most instances, oil will rise to the top of the water but won’t solidify. No problem. You can use a spoon to skim the oil off the water. Even better is a kitchen gadget called a gravy separator that looks like a small pitcher with the spout originating on the bottom. This unique design allows the water to be poured out while retaining every drop of the oil floating at the top. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, gravy separators are sold everywhere, otherwise find them at gourmet shops. You can also find extra large gravy separators year round at restaurant supply stores.
Now it’s time to strain one more time to remove as much sediment as possible. Place a double layer of cheesecloth over a strainer and pour the oil mixture through.
Refrigerate infused oil until ready to use or freeze for even longer storage. Fats can still go rancid in the freezer so try to use within 3 months.
You’re now ready to start cooking with marijuana oil!
Odor Reducing Tip When Making Marijuana Oil
Hamilton Beach makes a line of slow cookers (pictured in this article) that are great for reducing cooking odors when making marijuana oil. I am sure the fine folks at Hamilton Beach did not design the Stay and Go Slow Cooker for this specific purpose, but nonetheless they work great. That’s because it has a rubber gasket on the lid and a clamp you can use to keep the slow cooker tightly closed. People going to pot luck suppers (no, not the kinds with cannabis) love this feature as you can transport food in the slow cooker without it sloshing over. But for cannabis cooks its beauty is in the fact that you will hardly smell the odor of simmering marijuana when infusing butter or oil. At least not until you open the lid. I discovered this quite by accident, but it works. The Stay and Go Slow Cooker is also a quality product to use when making non-cannabis infused meals. Check it out!