The Art of Cannabutter and Infused Vegan Coconut Oil
Cannabis edibles have evolved alongside humans in different cultures longer than most people realize. Historically, edibles can be traced back through history from Chinese Emperor Fu His, the Book of Exodus, the Ancient Middle East, Ancient Egypt, India, Greece, Jesus Christ, Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, Europe, Native Americans, the first North American Settlers, the Industrial Revolution, 19th century, 20th century, and now the 21st century. Cannabutter or infused coconut oil has become the main staple in the 21st century. This is usually the first recipe one will try when they first venture into the world of edibles and a lesson they will continue to apply into the art of edible making. But with the countless number of recipes out there, which is the best? I will teach you my method of cannabutter or infused coconut oil making that will guarantee palatable and potent results.
The first step is finding the correct ingredients that are healthy for the body. Ultimately, processors and growers need to understand the whole “Love” concept. If you are using synthetic chemicals in your grow to push the fattest and heaviest yield with high bag appeal, then your cannabis should not be used in edibles. Cannabis that is grown with love, fed organic nutrients, is not rushed in any of the stages, and is given what it needs, will reward the grower with the best medicine to use in edibles. When THC is consumed in edibles, your liver transforms it into the psychoactive metabolite 11-Hydroxy-THC, which creates a stronger longer lasting body effect. Now imagine if a grower used chemicals in a hydro grow for example, then rushed the flushing process or did it incorrectly so that chemical residues were left over. Now this same grower takes the finished cured bud and makes edibles out of it. The person eating the edibles will not only be converting THC to 11-Hydroxy-THC but their body will be converting residual chemicals as well. The same could be said for an organic grower that gets a bug infestation during flowering and then decides to take a drastic method by using a bug treatment that has toxins. Sure, they saved their crop from being overridden by bugs, but what residual toxins are left over on the buds or in the plants system? And what will these toxins do to a person’s body when consumed in the form of edibles?
So this whole love concept is also a responsibility concept as well. When my grow contracted Hemp Russet Mites from a plant I took in and misdiagnosed, I made the executive decision as an organic grower to kill my entire grow and start over from scratch. I did this because the only thing that would eradicate these little plant sucking bastards while guaranteeing my crop’s survival required me to wear a hazmat suit and respirator. No thank you. I tearfully killed all 48 plants while trying not to go into shock from thoughts of how big the loss actually was. But I learned and grew from it. If I would have used those chemicals to kill the Hemp Russet Mites, who knows what kind of systemic toxins or mutations in the plants could of arose from that. And who knows what kind of effects that would have had on both myself and the people who consume my edibles.
The biggest thing that any grower needs to make sure they are doing to get a great tasting product, is to make sure they are growing with “Love”. If one does not grow with Love, just as one may not cook with Love, the product is going to be terrible. Growing a plant from a seed or a cutting, then to the vegetative state, then the flowering stage, the flushing stage, the trimming stage, and lastly the curing stage all take a huge amount of love and dedication from the grower. If none of those stages are done properly, the bud is going to suffer terribly as a finished product. Also growing Organic is also a big factor in my opinion as most experienced people can tell the difference between chemical and organic grown cannabis. When a plant is given what it needs and is fed only natural organic nutrients that come from the earth, animals, or sea, the bud in my opinion is better tasting and healthier. The terpenes of the plant and medicinal qualities seem to really shine when a grower can pull off a great organic harvest. I like to compare it to an organic Red Delicious apple versus a commercial Red Delicious apple. Next time you are at the supermarket, pick up these two types of apples then do a taste test. Do the same taste test with organic bud and commercial bud. Once you do this, then you will begin to understand what I am talking about.
The second step is to find out the THC percentage of your flower or concentrate. The best way to measure the psychoactive effect of the stain you are using is to get the bud or concentrate tested in a lab or find breeder information on how much THC the strain has. Most dispensaries will test their buds for patients so that the patient has a better understanding of what they need medically. If you do not have access to a dispensary, the other option would be to find breeder information on the strain you have as most breeders will have strains that test with consistent THC levels.
But what if I have a mystery strain? Or what if I cannot find any information? If you find yourself in this situation it is best to rely on basics. On average, most strains have about 10% THC but can range from 10% to 14%, some strains have the 15%-20% THC which makes them above average, and 21% or higher is considered the most potent. For cooking or baking at home, it is safe to assume that every gram of cannabis flower contains about 10% THC on average, unless you know what the strain has tested at.
Now the next step is the conversion process. Every 1 gram of cannabis bud or concentrate has 1,000mg of dry weight. If a strain of cannabis flower has about 10% THC per gram, ten percent of 1,000mg would be 100mg. So that means if you baked in 7 grams of this flower into a recipe, you would have 700mg of THC in the product. Or if a concentrate has 80% THC per gram, eighty percent of 1,000mg would be 800mg.
Once the conversion process is complete the next step is dosing. If you baked 7 grams of flower at a THC percentage of 10% into an apple pie, that means this delicious dessert possesses 700mg total. If the pie has 8 servings, then each slice will contain 87.5mg of THC. If you were just consuming cannabutter or infused coconut oil as a spread it would be important to break your doses into tablespoons or teaspoons. If you infused 14 grams at 10% THC per gram into a butter or coconut oil you have 16 servings in a cup, so it would be 87.50mg per tablespoon or 29.16mg per teaspoon.
It is highly recommended if you are new to edibles to start at 10mg per serving and work your way up, so adjust accordingly. Adjusting is as simple as lowering the amount of grams per recipe or fine tuning the amount of servings to the milligram dosage of THC that you desire and are comfortable with. This can be done with any recipe that you have at home or find from other sources. As your edibles become a normal part of your routine you may find yourself increasing your milligram dosage over time as your tolerance builds. It is not uncommon for medical marijuana patients to consume 100mg-300mg daily to treat their medical conditions where some only need 10mg-20mg per day to stay happy. You need to find the best dose and strains that work for you.
How will I know what dose and strain works best for me? Experimentation and daily note taking in a strain journal. I have journals, notes in my computer, recipes, and a collection of scribbles scratched on paper detailing my experience with cannabis. As I logged this information I would put down several key points: The name of the strain, the percentage of THC, its genetic makeup (50/50 hybrid), the smell of the cannabis, the taste the strain imparted when eaten or vaped, how many milligrams I ate, how much I vaped, the effects of that dose, and how it impacted me medically. As I wrote down this information I felt a little bit like Aleister Crowley and his practice of the Magical Diary, but found it was a valuable tool. Not only was I learning about strains and their effects on my body, but I was also cataloging strain information in my head that I could later access to help myself and other people. If you establish a strain dairy within your own life, you will be providing yourself with a treasured instrument that will not only educate you but help you on the path to what you are seeking medically, spiritually, or recreationally.
One cannot forget though that each strain of cannabis not only possesses different medical properties but also different flavor profiles via terpenes. Terpenes are the molecular compounds in all cannabis strains that are produced in the trichomes of that plant that give each plant their unique fragrance. Think of it as an essential oil. If you take a basil leaf then bruise it with your fingers, essential oils are released just the same as if you bruised a bud of a cannabis plant. Once someone begins the journey of learning all the different flavor profiles of different strains then the doorway to a whole new world of strain specific cooking opens up for them to experiment. One can take a particular strain that is known to possess certain flavor profiles and pair it with ingredients that are either complementary or analogous to elevate the flavors in the dish.
I pioneered the idea of infusing terpenes into cooking and baking via strain specific recipes to elevate the flavors in the edibles I create. What this means is that I use specific strains in specific recipes to enhance the flavor profiles of the dishes I construct. I will take a particular strain that is known to possess certain flavor profiles and pair it with ingredients that are either complementary or analogous to elevate the flavors of the dish. For example, Lemon Kush can be paired with Vietnamese Spring Rolls. By doing this, the Lemon Kush will impart a lemony taste with floral and mint undertones which deepen the flavors in this dish because of the similar taste profiles already present in the ingredients. Another example would be Strawberry Cough, which has the flavor profile of strawberries and cream. When I pair this strain with Strawberry Shortcake, the flavors of the strawberries and cream are doubled while also hinting at a slight cedar flavor that compliments the biscuit and citrus notes of the strawberries. This style of cooking not only helps patients to understand the importance of flavor profiles in recipes for a more enjoyable eating experience but also how each strain will affect their bodies.
Here comes the fun step, the cooking process. There is a huge debate on both cooking temperatures, how long the cooking process is, whether to use trim or bud, and the actual cooking process itself. I have found in all my years of cannabis cuisine that cooking the cannabutter or coconut oil (using buds not shake or trim) in a double boiler (a pan if you are a very skilled Cook or Chef) for exactly 1 hour in the ideal temperature range of 220F to 249F is just right. Using the flower or concentrate is essential over trim or shake. Flowers are the “apple” of the plant containing the most concentrated spectrum of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes rolled into a perfect package. By cooking with trim, not only will you be discharging large amounts of chlorophyll into your butter or coconut oil but also using a part of the plant that is not as concentrated. Therefore it is best to turn trim or shake into hash, then cook with it.
Cooking in a double boiler is basically adding in an extra form of protection to the process so you do not burn or fry your cannabis. This also helps keep the aforementioned optimal temperature zone which is ideal for fully extracting the cannabinoids. Be warned though with butter that the milk solids begin to brown and burn at 250F, so it is essential that you do not go over that temperature. The length of time is also important as many people swear the longer it cooks the better. All you are doing when you cook it longer than 1 hour is slowly leaching out all the chlorophyll and phytochemicals of the plant material. This results in a butter or coconut oil that is acrid to the pallet and not pleasurable to eat. So just remember, darker does not mean more potent. Also some people will even add water to the cooking process then separate the two to extract the infused butter or coconut oil. I would steer clear of this method as it changes the consistency of the butter or coconut oil which can impact the texture of recipes you use especially in baking.
And lastly, what to do with all that left over plant material? Cannabis is full of fiber and is excellent for the digestive tract. If you pull out all of the stems and place the cooked ground up cannabis into capsules and swallow it with a meal, it acts to scrub the walls of your intestines and help remove plaque or build up which results in a healthier digestive tract. The fiber also helps to speed up the travel process of food along your intestinal tract. Edibles have many benefits that are delivered to the body. The cannabinoids that are present in the cannabis has been shown to help repair cell walls and extend cell life, stimulate the production of brain cells and nueropathways, kill cancer, control migraines, help with IBS, help with severe pain, help with ADHD, help with PTSD, decrease depression, help muscle recovery and repair, help to build bone marrow, and help to control seizures to name just a few. But really, the list goes on, so I encourage you to find your own path with cannabis.
Mise en place:
- 1 cup of butter or raw coconut oil
- 14 grams of ground cannabis of your choice or dosage of your choice
- 1 double boiler (2 pans that stack within each other, the bottom one filled with water)
- Wooden spoon
- Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- Jar or container for storage
- 1 cooking thermometer
- Place the double boiler on the stove (fill bottom large pan with water and float the slightly smaller pan on top of the water).
- Add the butter or raw coconut oil to the pan. Bring the water to a boil then drop down to a slightly above a slow boil (about a 6 on a stove).
- When the butter or raw coconut oil is fully melted, add in the ground cannabis of your choice.
- Stir this mixture with a wooden spoon to make sure all the cannabis is fully saturated with the lipid.
- Let this mixture infuse for 1 hour. While the fat is infusing, periodically stick the cooking thermometer in the mixture without touching the bottom of the pan. For fats, the ideal temperature range is 220F to 249F.
- After the hour is up, strain your mixture through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer into a jar. You now have 16 tablespoons or 1 cup of infused butter
Ideally, the best way to measure the psychoactive effect of the stain you are using is to get the bud tested in a lab then do the math to figure out how many milligrams it is per serving of cannabutter or coconut oil. The reality is that this is not something everyone has access to and you must rely on basics.
Always remember that every 1 gram of cannabis bud has 1,000mg of dry weight. The average percentage of THC per gram is roughly 10%, with 15% being above average, and 20%-27% being on the higher end. If a strain has 10% THC per gram lab tested, ten percent of 1,000mg would be 100mg. Therefore, add the amount of cannabis for the desired dosage per tablespoon. Lastly, many factors can change the end dosage result (we will talk about this more in future articles), so know that this is an equation for approximate dosage in a perfect world.
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