I admit it – I am far from being immune to errors. This statement is generally true in my life but is definitely true for my cooking. As much as I’d like to consider myself a good cook, I’ve made loads of rookie and well… just dumb mistakes. To allow you an opportunity to be much better than me and learn from my experience, I’ve bunched together my most frustrating blunders. Be wiser – follow the below guidelines and you’re welcome. Best of luck!
- Using the plant matter without decarboxylation
Decarboxylation – try spelling that when you’re high…. It is the process by which the plant matter is heated and dried thus transforming the very precious THCa or CBDa cannabinoids into the THC or CBD we all like to consume. This process is critical as without it you will not feel the psychoactive effect you’re expecting to. While decrabing your cannabis is a bit of a drag, it is a necessary part. Some recipes require a lengthy and low-temperature cooking which can compensate partially for the lack of decarboxylation. In these cases, a partial release of THC can occur and therefore you might experience some intoxication but it’ll definitely be less efficient.
- Not following the Decarboxylation process to the letter
As odd as it may sound coming from someone who creates recipes, I typically look upon culinary directions as a baseline suggestion from which I can further explore. Reading recipes is one of my favorite activities (I know I’m weird) but the second after I read the recipe, I immediately think about ways to personalize the dish to fit my random state of adventure. Therefore, I say the following statement with a lot of empathy for the likeminded cooks – when decarbing your plant matter follow the instructions to the letter! Not doing so will yield suboptimal extraction and screw up your potency. Treat decarboxylation as a chemical process and not part of your cooking. Find your inner alchemist and be precise. Don’t overheat, don’t use too low of a temperature, use the exact timing and stir every few minutes. If you’re unfamiliar with the process press this link.
- Double boiler drying upCooking time for most infused recipes requires anywhere between 6 to 8 hours of low-temperature cooking. Unless you’re working with a slow-cooker you will most likely need to employ a double boiler, also nicknamed Bain Marie, to allow for gentler heat distribution. With double boilers, the food is cooked in a pan or a glass container that is placed on a pot containing hot water. The water is heated which, in turn, heat the cooked dish. When using double boilers for extended cooking periods you run the risk that the water will evaporate, and you will be left with a water-less pot. When this occurs, if not mended immediately, your infusion may be seriously damaged and you might need to start over. Avoid frustration – put a reminder to check the water level every couple of hours. If you need to add water, it is best to add very hot water to allow for a smooth continuation of the cooking process.
- Miscalculating Potency
I feel all veteran canna-cooks share an occurrence of this mistake. Mind you – this is one of those mistakes you typically make once and then it never happens again… The first time I cooked cannabis oil I did it all wrong. I used half of the oil (rookie mistake) and cooked it too long and too hot so part of the oil evaporated. Then, to complete the chain of unfortunate decision making, I measured incorrectly and ended up consuming 100mg of THC in one shot… not a great experience let me tell you that (I shared my experience in this blog post).
Calculating the potency of your infused food is critical to ensure you don’t consume too much or too little. Since the infusion of ingredients is time-consuming and most of them keep well for months (if stored correctly), my suggestion is to make big batches. Then before you cook with the infused ingredient, carefully calculate its potency and test it out. Take a tsp of the oil or butter you’ve just concocted and test the effect to make sure you meet no surprises.
- Aggressive straining
The last step in every infusion process is straining the cooked plant matter. This separates the infused ingredient (typically the fat or alcohol) and the plant matter which, at that point, no longer contains the psychoactive substance. Straining well is important as each drop counts. However, I find that many cooks strain very aggressively, pushing down with a spoon or their hands. This ‘over-straining’ causes some of the plant matter to sift through the sieve and incorporate itself within the infused ingredient. Unless you prefer the taste of dried grass in your dish, I’d say the overall impact on the taste palate is not great. Instead of aggressively straining – just let gravity do the work and gently assist in the extraction of all fluids by pressing on the plant matter lightly – make sure no plant particle makes it in.
- Uneven distribution of your THC
When I made my first batch of Canna-Crackers I must have been in a hurry and kneaded the dough too fast. As a result, some of the crackers had a much greater effect than others which made for a very awkward hike (I took the Canna-Crackers with me for a hiking trip with friends). The thing is – it’s very easy to avoid this mistake. What you need to do is mix well. And when you think you’ve mixed enough – mix a bit more, it can’t hurt.
Another related issue occurs when working with Cannabutter. When you use Cannabutter, always slice it vertically. Each cannabinoid has a different molecular weight, and gravity plays a role here. The butter that sinks to the bottom of the batch will have slightly different qualities than that at the top.