Mistakes To Avoid When Cooking With Cannabis
Over the years, I’ve made plenty of mistakes when it comes to cooking with cannabis. Creating infused foods presents many obstacles, especially if you are new to working with CBD, THC, and other cannabis components. But don't fret! You can easily overcome any challenge with a little bit of practice, patience, and knowledge. Before you infuse that first batch of oil or butter, here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when cooking with cannabis:
Mistake #1: Forgetting to Decarboxylate Your Cannabis Flower
The number one mistake beginners make when cooking is forgetting to decarboxylate the cannabis or hemp flower. If you want to create a potent infusion that delivers enhanced effects, decarboxylating is your best option. Activation for CBD begins at 295°F (146°C) for 30 to 60 minutes and at 240°F (115°C) for 30 to 60 minutes for THC; however, some chefs prefer to decarboxylate at slightly higher temperatures. For example, one of the most renowned cannabis chefs in the United States, Chef Coreen Carroll, recommends preheating the oven to 275°F (140°C). While the oven is heating, line a baking pan with parchment paper, cut up your flower into pea-sized pieces, then bake for 20 minutes to fully activate the cannabis flower.
No matter what method you choose to use, the most important thing to remember is to stay within the 240–295°F (115–146°C) range when decarboxylating to best preserve cannabinoids and terpenes. Click here to learn more about how to properly decarboxylate cannabis.
Mistake #2: Overheating Your Cannabinoids & Terpenes
Volatile cannabinoids and terpenes do not like high heat. A common mistake that beginners often make is overheating your infusions or decarboxylating at the wrong temperatures, which degrades the precious compounds that you are trying to preserve.
While CBDA and THCA are the primary cannabinoids you’ll want to activate via decarboxylation, each cannabinoid and terpene has its own unique boiling point when heated. If you exceed these temperatures, the compounds will begin to degrade resulting in loss. This is something you want to avoid in order to receive the best end results.
Refer to page 55 in my book, The Ultimate Guide to CBD, for an in-depth Activation and Boiling Point Guide to help you as you begin to cook with cannabis at home.
Mistake #3: Dosing Too High for THC (Or Too Low for CBD)
Learning how to estimate dosing is not an easy task. If you are making an infusion using cannabis or hemp flower, you’ll have to do some math to estimate the final cannabinoid percentages per serving. This is especially important if you are making THC-infused foods. Depending on what materials and methods you use for the infusion, you could end up with a super potent butter or oil that would rock even the most experienced cannabis user. This can happen if you don’t measure everything out properly.
Before adding an infused oil or butter to a recipe, make sure to try it on its own to gauge how precise your calculation estimates are. Sample ¼ of a teaspoon and see how you feel. This should help you determine what an appropriate dosage should be per serving. Also be aware that cannabinoids will cook off when baked, roasted, etc. therefore it’s important to calculate loss. A rule of thumb that Chef Coreen Carroll goes by is a 13% loss of THC or CBD will occur if you bake your edibles at 350°F (177°C) for 30 minutes.
If you are solely using CBD to infuse your recipes, a common mistake is dosing too low. When using an isolated product, you are already missing out on other beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids; to receive the best results, ideally, you should dose higher than you would with other forms of products.
A Quick Pro Tip For Making Butter Infusions!
As you will learn throughout your cannabis cooking journey, there are many methods to creating an infusion, especially when it comes to weed butter. When making cannabis-infused butter, the method I prefer involves adding water to the infusion while cooking on the stovetop. I prefer this method because it helps clarify and purify your end results by helping remove strong herbal flavors and green notes. Some chefs call this step the “water purge” as you are purging out unattractive characteristics that can affect the flavor and appearance of your recipes.
Chef Coreen Carroll also prefers to use water in her infusions because water helps regulate temperatures and protects the oil and butter from scorching, which in turn will make your infusion taste bitter. Adding water to your infusion will not decrease the potency of your end results. CBD and THC do not bind to water, so be sure your recipe contains enough fat for these precious cannabinoids and other compounds to bind to.
To try this method at home, click here for the recipe. Happy cooking!
About the Author:
Jamie Evans is the founder of The Herb Somm and author of The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol and Cannabis Drinks: Secrets to Crafting CBD and THC Beverages at Home. She is an author, entrepreneur, and writer specializing in cannabis, food, recipes, wine, and the canna-culinary world. In addition to her work in the cannabis industry, Jamie has over a decade of wine industry experience and is a Certified Sommelier. Having represented a wide array of organizations and wineries, she is best known for her literary work and producing high-end events. She was also named as one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers in 2018. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @TheHerbSomm.