Avoid these marijuana cooking mistakes and put yourself well on the road to making great tasting potent marijuana edibles!
Top 10 Marijuana Cooking Troubleshooting Tips
1. Over grinding the plant material when making marijuana butter or cannabis oil.
For some reason the majority of internet sites tell people to finely grind the marijuana being used to infuse marijuana butter or cannabis oil. There is even a commercially made electronic gadget for making marijuana butter that includes a built in electric grinder. I have never understood this advice. If you want better tasting edibles, DO NOT FINELY GRIND THE MARIJUANA! What you are trying the extract, the plant’s resinous trichomes, are ON the buds and leaves not IN them! All grinding accomplishes is to put more plant material into the finished product which in turn increases green color and unwanted herbal flavors.
2. Not adding water when infusing cannabutter or marijuana oil.
OK, this one isn’t a mistake as there is more than one way to infuse. Some people do not like to add water to the mix, but I do. Especially on the stovetop, the water will help things infuse at a lower temperature and avoid things burning and scorching which will result in unappetizing taste and THC that’s rendered useless by being cooked at too high a temperature. The water also helps with appearance and flavor by washing away some of the green color and strong herbal flavor. The photo at the right shows marijuana butter made with and without water in the mix and marijuana oil made with and without water. The same type and amount of marijuana was used for each of the infusions in the exact same amount. In all instances there was a better final yield when using water, and a lighter color and less herbal flavor. The amount of water is not important, but I always add at least as much water as butter or oil. I do this even when infusing in the slow cooker. Click to find instructions for how to make marijuana butter and cannabis oil.
3. Cooking marijuana at too high a temperature.
Generally speaking, lower cooking temperatures are better. THC is completely degraded at temperatures in excess of 392 degrees F although it starts to break down long before that. Since water boiling never gets above 212 degrees F, I always recommend adding water when making cannabis infusions (see point 2 above). You will also need to pay attention to cooking temperatures when using the infused butter and oils, or when cooking with marijuana concentrates. Do not use infused marijuana oils for direct sautéing for frying. If you are making something battered, make sure the medicated part is inside the batter. You can cook at oven temperatures up to 375 degrees F, as the food itself will not get that hot.
4. Not decarboxylating the cannabis first.
While too much heat will kill your THC, some heat is necessary. Most people do not realize the raw cannabis plant contains no THC at all. It does contain THC-A (or THC-acid). It takes the process of adding heat or decarboxylation to make the chemical reaction that converts THC-A to THC. If you are infusing butter or oil, some decarboxylation is taken care of in the process of infusion, mostly. But lab tests show that even when making infusions, decarbing first will up the percentage of THC extracted. If you are cooking with kief you will need to decarboxylate first. I recommend this step when cooking with hash too, as it can help maximize THC potency. For more info on decarboxylation, why you need it, and how to do it, see this page.
5. Adding too much cannabis/over medicating.
There is no easier way to ingest too much marijuana than by eating it. Sometimes people are impatient and think “it’s not working” and eat more. By the time it all kicks in they have overdone it. While “overdoses” are not dangerous in that they are never fatal, they won’t shut down your organs, they can make you feel anxious, paranoid, and/or disoriented. Dosing edibles is somewhat of an art, a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration and people’s tolerances run a wide range. An amount that one person does not even physically feel might be enough to make someone else experience couch-lock for hours. When cooking with marijuana, especially new plant material you are not familiar with, it’s a good idea to vape or smoke a little to get general idea of its potency. Keep in mind that cooking can intensify potency somewhat. If you do find a batch of your edibles is more potent than you intended the remedy is easy – eat less! Learn more about dosing when cooking with marijuana at this link.
6. Adding too little marijuana/undermedicating.
Likewise, if you ever find yourself with a weak batch of food, eat more! If you make a batch of infused butter or oil that is less potent than you’d like, you can always augment it later by heating gently to dissolve some decarboxylated kief or hash into it before using in recipes. I know marijuana is an expensive ingredient and the natural urge is to use as little as possible. But think of it this way, you can always eat smaller portions, but if your batch of edibles does not deliver, there’s no way to avoid disappointment. I won’t say that you “wasted” the weed as you will still be getting medicinal benefits even if you don’t feel high, but if you were expecting/desiring a buzz and you use too little, then you certainly did not put your plant material to its optimal use. Learn more about dosing at this link.
7. Not paying attention to portion size.
If you don’t know how many portions your recipe makes, it will be difficult to determine how much medicine to add. To get a proper dose divide the total amount of cannabis or infused marijuana butter or oil in the entire recipe to achieve an amount that usually works for you. Exercise will power if necessary.
8. Improperly Incorporating Concentrates
Cooking with kief is a joy. Its fine texture allows it dissolve almost instantly in warm (and sometimes even cold) liquids and other ingredients like mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream and more. Hash can be a little trickier. It can come in many textures from dry and crumbly to sticky and putty-like. Dry hash can be sent through a small food processor or coffee grinder to turn it into a fine powder. You can even use a mortar and pestle for this. The sticky variety is best heated in a liquid until it dissolves. Even so, hash can sometimes leave a slight gritty texture, which is why when given the choice, I choose kief. Learn more about cooking with hash and kief here.
9. Using too delicate a hand with seasonings.
Most people do not like the green herbal flavor of marijuana shining through their foods. Likewise recipes with lots of spices and flavors going on tend to mask this better than delicate and subtle fare. Use as much or a little more seasoning and flavor adding ingredients (such as onion and garlic) when cooking with cannabis than you would if you were cooking without marijuana.
10. Believing brownies, cookies and sweets are the only foods suitable as marijuana edibles.
The number of people who think that sweets are the only kind of edibles you can make with marijuana consistently surprises me. The fact is most any food can be infused with cannabis. In fact, it is usually easier to hide the green herbal flavor that most people don’t like in spicy and/or savory foods. There are lots of terrific cannabis cookbooks on the market to help you expand you cannabis culinary repertoire, including my own Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook and The Easy Cannabis Cookbook. You can also find lots of recipes, both savory and sweet, on this blog.