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  • The Herb Somm

Four Tips for Successful Cannabis Food Pairings

Gourmet cannabis dinners are quickly becoming one of the most popular events to attend in the industry. Now that recreational cannabis laws have passed, new consumers are beginning to enjoy these gourmet experiences that perfectly pair cannabis and cuisine.

If you are a novice to pairings, no need to worry. Matching cannabis and food is fun and easy. You do not have to learn any difficult rules or systems to select the best flavor combinations. The following simple tips can help you master the art of integrating flavors. Just remember these four letters: B.I.T.E.

Balance (B)

When pairing cannabis and food, the weight of the meal and weight of the strain must be balanced. Weight in food is determined by body and richness. Think of a thick Bolognese pasta sauce dish compared to Linguine and olive oil, or a grilled steak compared to poached fish. Pay attention to the fat content of the food you are cooking with and be sure to consider your cooking technique and any sauces or dressings used.

For cannabis, weight is determined by the strain’s side effects and potency, or in other words, the terpene and cannabinoid profile. The profile of the cannabis strain should match the recipe's characteristics and ingredients.

I typically recommend pairing limonene-rich strains with lighter foods including fresh salads, dips, smoothies, oven roasted chicken, and seafood pastas. Strains rich in earthy myrcene and spicy beta-Caryophyllene typically pair best with richer foods including pan seared steak, red sauce pastas, pizza, mushroom risotto, truffle mashed potatoes and cornbread due to the strain’s comforting side effects.

Intention (I)

Your intention for the meal also plays a big factor in determining the best cannabis and food pairings. If you are looking to have a relaxed night at home, a strain rich in myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, or linalool is the preferred option. If you are hosting a culinary dining experience with friends, you might consider using a strain rich in limonene, pinene, or ocimene to keep your guests feeling uplifted and social rather than sleepy or couch locked.

The time of day you’ll be eating should also be a consideration. If you are making a breakfast meal, be sure to cook with a strain that will boost energy so you can have a productive day. If you are cooking at night, use your best judgment to determine how you want to feel after eating the meal.

Combining cannabis with other healing roots and herbs such as turmeric, ginger root, chamomile, lemongrass, rosemary, dill, thyme, etc., can also greatly improve the pairing experience.

Taste (T)

The most important factor to consider when pairing cannabis and food is the actual taste of the ingredients. Complimentary flavors and aromas make a great meal, so pay close attention to the recipe and get to know your cannabis terpene profiles.

As a reminder, terpenes are the organic compounds in cannabis that produce a wide variety of aromas and flavors including citrus, fresh herbs, cooking spices, as well as floral and earthy notes. However, terpenes are not found in cannabis alone. They are produced by many different fruits, herbs, flowers, and spices, which allows us to easily create pairings based on similar flavor and aroma profiles (see the Terpene & Aroma Pairing Guide here).

To determine the best flavor combination, identify the most prominent character in the dish and match that characteristic to the strain's terpene profile. For example, if you are making salmon with citrus lemon sauce, pair the dish with a strain that has higher levels of citrusy limonene. If you're cooking with cannabis, keep in mind that terpenes are incredibly volatile. To best preserve these precious compounds, be sure to cook at low temperatures. Or better yet, consider offer a tasting pairing (i.e. pairing the cannabis flower alongside your meal) for best results.

Enjoy (E)

The final tip to a successful cannabis pairing is to enjoy it! There are so many incredible culinary creations that can be made at home. The combinations are endless. Just remember these four simple letters: B.I.T.E.


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