Since the beginnings of mankind’s interactions with cannabis, people have experimented with infusing the plant into almost everything. Whereas the early history of cannabis was defined by essences, oils, pressed hash, and potent blends, our modern cannabis industry features products of all varieties, from concentrates and topicals to a now-massive assortment of edible delights.
Edibles are an increasingly popular source of THC for cannabis consumers in America, and it’s not difficult to understand the reasons why. Edibles have always been at their core a communal experience; after all, it’s ill-advised to eat more than one brownie at a time. While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of edible brands on the market in America and an amazing amount of options for the consumer to choose from, the endeavor of cooking with cannabis still has a magnetic appeal for marijuana enthusiasts across the country.
Indeed, though it is easier than ever to purchase edibles from your local dispensary, there remains an allure to crafting edibles the old fashioned way, perhaps with the assistance of loyal friends or a significant other. Cannabis is at its best when it is a bonding experience, and nothing better exemplifies that than the time-honored tradition of cooking with cannabis.
The History of Cooking with Cannabis
Edibles have a longer history than you may think. While recipes for edible pastries and other assorted foodstuffs have circulated in the underground of American culture for over a century, there is evidence of people cooking with cannabis dating as far back as 10th century India. In this region of the world, it is still common to encounter a mixture of finely-ground marijuana and other smoothie ingredients known as “bhang”. While it is unknown whether the two concoctions are related, recipes for a similar beverage have been discovered in Italy from the Renaissance period.
In America, cannabis was mostly considered a “tonic” or medicine until the 20th century. It was not until the 60s that the cannabis culture we currently recognize, with its assorted cookies, magic brownies, cupcakes, lollipops, and much more arose with a loosening of social restrictions, even as regulations intensified.
With recreational legalization on the horizon, the future of edible creations looks brighter than ever. Amazing, creative companies aim to create new, exciting products and push the limits of what consumers believe is possible when it comes to edible products.
Why Cook With Cannabis?
There are many benefits to cooking with cannabis that might not be apparent at first thought. Beyond the joy of performing a task yourself, there are other, more practical reasons why one might consider diving into a recipe instead of purchasing an edible at a store.
While many edible companies offer outstanding quality, the task of purchasing edibles in America isn’t always easy. New regulations are relieving some of the pain of dishonest merchants, but not every edible can be trusted to remain true to its packaging. It’s still recommended that consumers do as much research as possible before making a purchase.
Cooking with cannabis offers the individual more control over their edible experience. To begin with, you know exactly how much and what kind of flower is being used. That means you are free to make your edible experience as potent or as newbie-friendly as you’d like.
Cooking vs. Smoking Cannabis
Though baking your own edible products can be somewhat of a hassle, reliable edibles can be an even more fulfilling and comforting experience than smoking flower. While the high that edibles impart can take on a different character than a typical high, edible products can actually be recommended for individuals experiencing severe or chronic pain, as well as those who want to avoid smoking for issues related to health or discomfort. In short, there are many reasons for people to choose edible products over flower.
One difference to acknowledge when dealing with edibles is the amount of time it takes for the effects of edibles to settle in. Smoking cannabis typically results in an instant, cerebral high that can create dizzying results within minutes.
Edibles function much differently. They take time to be digested, but when they take effect, the sensations are often much heavier than those felt from smoking cannabis. It is important to always use caution when dealing with edible products as taking too much can create situations that nobody enjoys.
The Science Behind Cooking with Cannabis
So, why is edible cannabis often more potent than cannabis that is smoked? The answer lies in a few special processes that occur during the act of cooking with cannabis.
First, it’s important to keep in mind that the effects of edible cannabis are unlocked by heating the cannabis to a certain temperature. That information is crucial, because undercooked cannabis or products crafted with cannabis oil may not have their full effects expressed when consumed.
The secret to the intense power contained within edibles has to do with the science of decarboxylation. Decarboxylation occurs when the major chemicals inside of cannabis—the cannabinoids THCA and CBDA—are superheated, transforming them into the psychoactive compounds THC and CBD that produce the cerebral and bodily sensations cannabis is famous for.
Normally, decarboxylation happens when cannabis is ignited in a pipe, and the resulting smoke is inhaled, delivering THC and CBD to the body. When cooking with cannabis, however, the process occurs while the edibles are baking. This provides extra incentive for making edibles at home, as fresh edible products are likely to be more effective than edible products that were manufactured months ago.
Effects of Edibles
Edibles are well-known for the potent body high they produce, a high that at times can be overbearing or uncomfortable depending on how much is taken. However, when edibles are dosed properly, the results can be extraordinarily euphoric. Quality edible products can deliver a high that envelops the body like a warm blanket, owing to digested THC’s greater efficiency than its smoked equivalent.
In addition, THC that is digested is mutated in the liver, turning into a supercharged component referred to as 11-hydroxy-THC. While 11-hydroxy-THC is present during the process of smoking cannabis, the ratio of this component to regular THC is greater when the body is absorbing an edible, resulting in a much stronger body high.
Best Practices for Dosing
When cooking with cannabis, it’s important to pay attention to how much flower you use in your recipe. Often, edible recipes will come with suggestions for how much bud to apply in the process of cooking, but if you are an experienced user, you can feel free to adjust this amount to your individual preference. Also, be sure to check whether your local dispensary carries cannabis-infused oils. This can take some of the guesswork out of cooking with cannabis.
Next, in dealing with the edible itself, best practices are always to consume a small amount in the beginning and take more as time goes on if the effects are not as strong as you would like. Remember, you can always eat more of an edible, but you can’t take back what you have already eaten. While too much cannabis will never result in death, the discomfort of an overbearing edible high can be severe and should be avoided.
Making Pot Butter
When cooking with cannabis, a common ingredient you will find in related recipes is cannabutter (a portmanteau of the words “cannabis” and “butter”). While you can certainly purchase cannabutter at many dispensaries across the nation, making it at home is fairly simple.
Decarboxylating cannabis buds is the first phase in the creation of any batch of cannabutter. This is done by simmering the cannabis at a low temperature, recommended to be around 245ºF. Then, the cannabis is ground and added to melted butter and stirred occasionally, resulting in a fine mixture. Finally, the butter is strained and left to chill in the refrigerator, creating a product that can be used in a wide variety of recipes.
Best Recipes for Cooking with Cannabis
The Internet has made it easier than ever to find excellent and often unique edible recipes that will not only satisfy your hunger but impress friends and acquaintances as well. Here are a few of our favorites we’ve come across.
Parmesan and Garlic Pasta
It’s enough to make your mouth water just thinking about it: pasta simmered in a creamy parmesan and garlic sauce, infused with magical effects that will make this meal a special experience. By the time you feel full, you’ll likely begin to feel other sensations as well that scintillate the body and convey a warm and pleasant mood.
1 package angel hair pasta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
Cannabis has been infused into almost every foodstuff imaginable, and latkes are no exception. These savory, crispy potato pancakes are perfect for infusing with cannabis and even more ideal for sharing with a large group of people.
4 cups vegetable oil
5 grams cannabis buds, ground
5 lbs Russet potatoes, unpeeled
3 cipollini onions (or 2 regular onions)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated pepper
2 cups cooked rice, couscous or other grain
Sugar-Coated Donut Holes
These classic sugar-coated donut holes come with an added kick that will settle in about an hour after ingesting them, so wait at least that long before going in for more. Not only are these delightfully simple to eat, they’re simple to prepare as well and fun for serving to friends.
3 cups bread flour
1 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
Butternut Squash Soup
In the search for a dignified recipe to serve at cannabis dinner parties? This exquisite butternut squash soup recipe calls for a healthy dose of cannabis-infused butter, creating effects just as hot as the batch they came from.
1 (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 tablespoon unmedicated unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 medium white onion (small dice)
1 small red pepper (small dice)
5 cups low sodium chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon cannabutter
What to Avoid When Cooking with Cannabis
Cooking with cannabis can be a complicated art to master, and there are many tips and tricks acquired over years of human experience with creating edibles that can be helpful to keep in mind.
To begin with, one common mistake that people make when trying to cook with cannabis for the first time is using too much bud in their recipe. Most of the time, only a minor amount of marijuana is actually necessary to produce a potent body high as cooked cannabis is more potent than cannabis that is ignited.
On a similar note, the bud you purchase to fulfill the needs of the recipe does not necessarily have to be of premium quality. Unless there is a specific strain you want to use for a recipe, even most batches of shake can be sufficient in creating potent, satisfying edibles.
In general, it’s a good idea to test out the cannabis or cannabutter you use before cooking with it. Marijuana, or marijuana infusions, that are not potent likely will not become more effective in the cooking process.
Finally, be sure to follow instructions in most situations unless you truly believe in any drastic changes. If a recipe recommends a specific amount of cannabis or specifies an exact amount of temperature or time for cooking, there is likely a good reason for that level of exactitude. Always maintain your wits, and use common sense when engaging with information you find on the Internet.
Interested in premium cannabis solutions? Have a Heart has an extensive menu of edibles, flower, pre-rolls, concentrates and much more. Select your closest dispensary to view our online menus.