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Top 5 Mistakes When Cooking with Cannabis

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

If you’re new to the unique complexities of culinary cannabis, you’ll want to avoid some of the common cooking mistakes—lest you waste perfectly good flower on an unintended kitchen disaster.

1. Not Decarboxylating the Cannabis

The Problem: You can’t cook raw cannabis. Not only does it taste terrible, but it has no active THC. Raw cannabis contains THC-acid, but the acid requires heat to be converted into bioavailable THC.

Decarboxylation makes this process possible. Some users skip decarboxylation before making butter because the infusion process automatically heats and activates the cannabis—to an extent. If you want to get the maximum THC extraction, though, and experience the maximum potency, you should always decarboxylate before cooking up your infusion.

The Solution: There are multiple ways to decarboxylate your cannabis prior to cooking. For best results, grind up your THC (see mistake #2 below) over a cooking sheet and roast it in the oven. One hour at 230 degrees Fahrenheit should do the trick.

2. Over-Grinding

The Problem: A quality hand grinder makes it easy to break down your bud before cooking. This is an essential part of the cooking process, but some people go a bit overboard with the grinding.

Contrary to popular myth, grinding your cannabis into powder will not increase the amount of THC or improve your high. It just means that more of the plant material gets into your recipe, giving it a much more bitter taste.

The Solution: When using your hand grinder to break up your cannabis, be mindful of the consistency. You want the finished product to look similar to dried oregano, not powder. Those hairs and stems contain a lot of the THC, so you want to preserve them as much as possible.

3. Using Too Much Cannabis When Cooking With Marijuana

The Problem: Make sure you’re not using too much medical cannabis in your recipes to avoid getting too strong of a high. Just because you’re used to smoking a certain strain or volume of cannabis doesn’t mean that you can comfortably eat the same amount. Edibles take more time to ramp up, and while it would be near impossible to overdose on marijuana, too much of it can definitely cause you to have a bad experience.

On the contrary, marijuana edibles have a completely different delivery system. The THC is absorbed through the bloodstream rather than the respiratory system, which means the drug takes longer to work but has a much more potent effect.

The Solution: Finding the right concentration takes practice. For starters, think conservatively. Less is more. When cooking cannabis butter, start by mixing ¼ oz. bud with a pound of butter. Use cannabis with about 15% THC (see the full recipe below). Before mixing the butter into any other recipes, taste it to test the potency. Once you know firsthand how strong it is, you’ll have a better idea of how liberal or conservative to be with the butter.

4. Infusing Cannabutter Without Water

The Problem: When cooking cannabis butter, some people just mix the butter with the marijuana and neglect to add water to the saucepan. While it is possible to get a quality infusion without water, it’s not a good idea to try.

Water keeps the temperature down and helps prevent the butter from burning. Burnt cannabis butter tastes terrible and has no potency since THC starts to degrade at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 degrees Celsius). Water also washes out any unwanted green coloration and prevents the product from having an herbal flavor.

The Solution: When cooking your cannabis butter, maintain at least a 50:50 ratio of water to butter. An even better ratio is 60:40. If you notice that the water evaporates during cooking, or the temperature of the butter reaches close to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, add a bit more water to the infusion.

5. Limiting Your Marijuana Cooking to Baked Goods

The Problem: When you mention marijuana edibles, most people immediately think of cookies and brownies. These are excellent—and easy—products to make, but there’s a whole world of edible opportunities outside of baked goods. In fact, the herbal nature of cannabis lends itself to more savory and spicy dishes including chili, roasted potatoes, and chicken wraps.

The Solution: Research cannabis recipes online. Check out the growing body of cannabis cookbooks on the market. If you’re already making your own cannabis butter, look for ways to incorporate it into existing recipes. When deciding how much of the butter to use, follow the serving ratios outlined in #3 above.

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