Whether you’re a beginner seeking the basics or a seasoned pro looking to level up their extraction methods, you’ll want to check out CHNANY member Floriza Doyle’s informative breakdown of the methods and benefits of making your own edibles:
An Introduction to Cooking with Cannabis
By Floriza Doyle. Published 07/26/21
Level I: Commercially available extracts.It is quite straightforward to add infused oils, butters, tinctures, honey, and seasonings to any entree, dessert, or beverage. My first homemade edible was a beverage akin to Bulletproof Coffee: Add 1 cup coffee, 2 tbsp CBD-infused coconut oil, and 1 tbsp grass-fed butter to a blender. Mix for 20-30 seconds until it looks like a rich, creamy latte.
The next cannabis ingredient I bought was a THC-infused grapeseed oil. This purchase came with a cookbook including such recipes as guacamole, tomato soup, and chocolate pudding. It was very simple to add this THC oil to any recipe, from sweet to savory.
There is an increasing range of infused products available for your pantry: water soluble cannabis powders, full-spectrum extracts, terpene extracts, infused salts and spice rubs, and other items that can supplement or completely replace ingredients in any of your recipes. Your first cannabis cooking experiment can be as simple as adding water soluble cannabis to your next batch of rice or pasta or drizzling THC oil on your next salad.
Commercially available extracts, while easy, quick and convenient, can be quite pricey (I paid $50 for 210 ml of THC oil). However, it is a great way to learn about safe and accurate dosing since exact concentrations are listed on the package (e.g., 10 mg THC per tsp oil).
Level II: DIY infusions using traditional kitchen appliances.
If you want more control over the cost and quality of your edibles you can opt to make your own infusions. Dosing can be estimated by comparing effects to commercially available products. For example, spread ½ tsp of homemade cannabutter on a piece of toast and compare its effects to ½ tsp of a store-bought oil or butter.
Making cannabutter is a two-step process:
Using an oven and/or stovetop is convenient, but it is not the most consistent or efficient process. The temperature fluctuation in a typical oven can be as much as +/- 30° F, and many cannabinoids or terpenes can be lost using this method.
Level III: Specialized equipment for temperature control.
If you want to make edibles on a regular basis, it is probably wise to invest in one or more gadgets to improve process consistency and yield. Commercially available devices specifically made for cannabis decarboxylation are available. These devices maintain a constant and correct temperature, thereby reducing loss and degradation of active components. Other options for decarbing include pressure cookers or sous vide machines, both of which are more precise than a typical oven. An added benefit of these options is that they employ a sealed bag or jar, so that your nosy neighbors won’t know what you’re cooking. In addition, these devices can be used for a wider range of applications as compared to a dedicated decarb machine.
The sous vide can also be used for a more precise infusion process since it is difficult to maintain a low, constant temperature on the stovetop. There are also dedicated cannabis extraction devices that maintain discrete temperature set points while providing intermittent agitation. These methods are preferred for alcohol infusions since the boiling temperature of alcohol (173°F) is quite lower than that of water. I make cannabutter at 160°F and alcohol tincture at 130°F.
A properly made alcohol-based tincture is shelf stable and can last for years with no degradation. It can be easily added to any hot or cold beverage or can be used to make cannasugar. I use cannasugar for making lozenges and other candies and desserts. I check the dosage by adding ½ tsp sugar to my coffee and recording its effects.
I hope this brief introduction will inspire you to try new edibles. It’s not just limited to gummies and brownies anymore!