A Beginner's Guide to Cooking with Cannabis
Cannabis is a food-friendly herb that is abundant with flavor. Over 100 different terpenes have been identified so far, giving each strain its own unique characteristics. By tapping into this broad spectrum of aromas and flavors, it’s no wonder why chefs from across the country are creating custom menus that highlight herbal products in their signature dishes. For these chefs, cannabis is considered to be a primary cooking ingredient.
This trend is continuing to grow amongst at-home cooking enthusiasts who’ve discovered cannabis’ ability to enhance a variety of recipes. Whether planning an infused dinner at home or summer BBQ with friends, foodies are experimenting in the kitchen and creating pleasurable results.
If you are new to cannabis, cooking with herbal products might seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually much easier than you’d think. We’ve developed some simple steps that will help you incorporate cannabis into your cooking.
1. Pick a Series of Recipes
The first step to including cannabis in your cooking is to choose the right recipe. We recommend finding a series of recipes that include olive oil, butter or coconut oil. Cannabinoids are drawn to fats and oils which allows the THC and other compounds to become active. Since most recipes include these ingredients, your options are endless!
2. Choose the Strain
With the recipe in hand, you now know what flavors to look for when searching for the perfect cannabis strain to elevate your meal. You’ll want to identify the most prominent flavor in the dish and match that characteristic to the strain's terpene profile. Some of the most common terpenes to pair with include Limonene (citrus), Myrcene (mixed herbs, tropical notes), Caryophyllene (cloves, cooking spices), Pinene (pine nuts), Nerolidol (jasmine, ginger) and Linalool (violets, lavender). Pick a strain that has a desirable terpene profile, and that can pair well with many different types of recipes. See our Terpene & Aroma Pairing Guide here.
If you purchase through a dispensary, work with your budtender to view some samples and be sure to ask what trim or shake they have for purchase. An important thing to remember is be aware of costs. Trim or shake usually costs far less than full flower buds. Purchasing the flower already broken up will also save you time in the kitchen when creating the infusion.
Also, remember to choose a strain based on the intention of your meal. If you are looking to feel energized and entertain guests, pick a Sativa. If you are looking to relax, unwind or fall asleep, choose an Indica. Read here for more cannabis and food pairing tips.
3. Create the Infusion
Now for the fun part! Making the infusion. You will first want to purchase a quality product to infuse. Don’t choose the cheapest butter or olive oil that you can find at the supermarket. The better the product, the better the infusion.
For butter, we recommend using Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter. It is creamy, soft and delicious - your infusion will have these same characteristics. For olive oil, we recommend infusing rich Greek olive oil; cold pressed to ensure the best quality. We prefer Greek over Italian olive oil because it has less grassy and herbaceous notes which do not combine as well with cannabis.
When you are ready to make the infusion, be sure to decarboxylate your cannabis. Decarboxylation is the chemical reaction that releases the carboxylic acids from THC to activate the weed. This is achieved by exposing dry cannabis to heat around 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 - 60 minutes. Remember to keep temperatures low to prevent burning off desirable terpene characteristics.
After this step, infuse the oil or butter. Try to create a big batch so you can use creatively across your series of recipes. You can find our CannaButter recipe here, and CannaOil recipe here. Remember it takes 4 - 6 hours to infuse olive oil and 24 hours for a CannaButter to adequately cool and firm, so be sure to plan ahead.
4. Choose the Meal Time
Once the infusion has been created, it’s time to figure out what time you’ll be serving the meal. Think back to your intention. Are you cooking a casual dinner at home? Are you hosting brunch? It usually takes 1.5 - 2 hours to feel the effects of an infused meal, so make sure you carve out enough time to be able to cook, eat, and digest, especially if you are enjoying multiple courses.
You might also want to consider making an infused snack or appetizer while you are cooking to savor the full effects during your main meal. Micro-dosing each course (consuming 1 - 5 milligrams of THC or CBD) is an excellent way to pace yourself. This practice is really important each time you sample a new product, and this will help you figure out your limits. Every infusion is different, so be sure to remember the golden rule of edibles - go low, start slow. Read more about edibles here.
5. It’s Time to Cook
Now that you've picked the recipe, made the infusion, and determined the meal time, it’s time to start cooking. Treat the infusion as an ingredient and make sure you have the proper cooking accessories on hand for accurate measurements. Some useful kitchen tools include measuring spoons, measuring cups, salad dressing mixer, large mixing bowl, Tupperware for leftovers, etc. Typically, one teaspoon of CannaOil or CannaButter equals one serving of 5 - 10 milligrams depending on the potency of the strain. If you are a newbie, take half of that serving size.
6. Eat and Enjoy
Success! You’ve cooked an infused meal. You can now partake in your tasty infusion. Kick back and relax in a comfortable environment. Laugh, taste, enjoy and remember do not drive until effects ware off.
Peace, Love & Cannabis,
The Herb Somm