We often get questions from our guests about making edibles, and with more and more states legalizing cannabis, it’s now easier than ever for the home cook to safely and legally experiment with infused meals in the comfort of their own kitchen. Although most of the attention is focused on infusing foods with THC, the same methods can be used with CBD-rich hemp flower to create delicious non-psychoactive treats that still provide healing and healthy cannabinoids. With CBD hemp flower currently being legally available in even more locations than THC, this provides opportunities to experiment and hone your (pork)chops while waiting for your state to join the 33 others (at the time of this writing) that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana in some form. (Note: The following article contains affiliate links. See disclaimer at bottom for more information.)
Preparing Your Materials
The first step in creating infused meals is extracting the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc) from the plant material. While there’s nothing stopping you from sprinkling a little OG Kush on your pizza as is (in fact, raw cannabis is sometimes touted as a ‘superfood’), most of the cannabinoids we are targeting are locked inside the plant as THCA or CBDA and need to be decarboxylated to their more ‘active’ and well-known forms, THC and CBD.
What is Decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation (also called ‘decarbing’ for short) is a fancy, science-y word for what happens when THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) or CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) begins degrading and loses a molecule of carbon dioxide from its structure. This naturally happens to some extent as the plant dries, but can be sped up and made more efficient by applying heat. In fact, anyone who has smoked or vaporized cannabis has decarboxylated THCA and/or CBDA right in front of their very own eyes, often without even knowing it.
To prepare your cannabis (marijuana or hemp) for the decarb process, it’s recommended to use an herb grinder such as this, or at the very least a sharp knife, to coarsely grind your dried flower before you start. While it can be tempting to use your fingers, the highest concentration of cannabinoids can be found in the small crystalline-looking trichomes, which easily stick to the oils on your skin and don’t end up in the final product.
Setting Up Your Oven To Decarboxylate
With your plant material coarsely chopped, it’s time to stick it in the oven and do some science. Since the decarboxylation process happens within a very specific temperature range, closely monitoring the temperature is critical. Obsessively binge-watching online cooking shows has made me not trust the built-in thermometer on my oven, so I highly recommend using another device for more control over this delicate step; with too high a temperature you can vaporize the cannabinoids, terpenes and phytonutrients you are trying to target or, worse, burn your plant material. To help monitor the temperature, Magical Butter makes a product called the ‘Decarbox’; a food-safe silicone box to hold the material you are decarboxylating with a built-in temperature probe and precision digital thermometer.
What Are Good Decarboxylation Temperatures?
To optimally decarboxylate your plant material you will want to heat it low and slow over a long period of time to avoid degrading the terpenes responsible for the ‘entourage effect’ of cannabinoids. THCA begins to decarb at 220*F, so do so in an oven you’re looking at an oven temperature of 220-245*F for 30-45 minutes. For hemp flower, aim for 250*F for around 60 minutes to ensure as complete a conversion as possible since CBDA decarboxylates at a higher temperature than THCA. For larger quantities, gently shake the material every 15-20 minutes to ensure an even decarboxylation. Once the time is up, carefully remove your plant material and let cool. What was once very green at the start has probably lost a little color and looks somewhat yellowish-brown.
A Decarboxylation Solution
If the decarboxylation process seems as hard to do as it is to pronounce, devices such as the Ardent Nova Decarboxylator can handle the entire process with the push of a single button. Fill the decarboxylator with up to an ounce of material, press the button and wait; the LED turns green when the process is complete and, as an added benefit, most of the odor is contained within the device instead of smelling up your entire kitchen.
Creating An Infusion
Since cannabinoids are fat-soluble, the easiest and most efficient way to get them into foods is by infusing them into a carrier oil. Butter and vegetable oil are the most common carrier oils, which is why people are probably most familiar with infused cookies and brownies, but why stop there? Infuse some bacon fat for a hashy potato hash, olive oil for salad dressings or coconut oil for gummy candies. Let your creativity run wild!
How to Infuse Oils: The Manual Process
To infuse your oils, there are many methods ranging from a basic (but messy) double boiler system to elite, fully-automated devices like the Levo II oil infuser which can be controlled over Wi-Fi, but the moka pot method is simple and affordable with some models available for under $10. To infuse your butter or oil in this way, add a half cup of water to the lower chamber along with your oil or butter (typically about one stick of butter, although there are larger models of moka pots that can infuse twice as much at a time).
Insert the filter basket into the lower section and fill the basket with around 1g of your decarboxylated flower, then screw the top portion back on to seal the moka pot. Heat on the stove on medium-low to medium heat for about 10 minutes. As the water in the bottom section turns to steam it will force the melted butter or oil through the filter basket, extracting the cannabinoids into the butter and collecting in the top section of the device. Once it’s done, pour your infused oil-water mixture into a container and chill in an ice-water bath or the refrigerator to allow the infused fat and water to separate. Pour off the water and your newly infused oil or butter is ready for use!
Automating Your Infusion Process
For an even more automated process or for larger batches, infusion devices such as the Magical Butter MB2E Extractor offer similar one-touch convenience to the Ardent Nova Decarboxylator mentioned above. To use, fill the device with your decarbed herbs and up to 5 cups of butter or oil and press one of the preset timer buttons to start the infuser. Once the time is up, strain the contents through one of the included filter bags and let cool in the refrigerator for a few hours. Although the Magical Butter MB2E is more expensive than a double boiler or moka pot, it provides a more simplified, foolproof method for making infused oils – it can also ‘automagically’ produce alcohol-based infusions for tinctures (or… cocktails) as well as infused lotions and salves.
How To Use Your Infused Oil
There are as many infused recipes as there are cooks. Some people may go no further than buying a boxed brownie (or my personal favorite, Funfetti cake) mix, substituting the oil or butter the recipe calls for with their infused variety and calling it a day. However, lots of cookbooks exist geared towards the more high-minded chef.
Bong Appetit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed is a cookbook brought to you by the team behind the Viceland show of the same name. Featuring 65 tasty treats from breakfast to dessert, the 256-pages of recipes, tips, tricks and inspiring photos should have you well prepared to create infused foods that wouldn’t seem out of place at a fancy dinner party. Whether or not you decide to just eat them in your pajamas while watching cartoons is up to you.
The “Martha Stewart” of Weed
Writen by Cheri Sicard, also known as the “Martha Stewart of weed”, The Easy Cannabis Cookbook: 60+ Medical Marijuana Recipes for Sweet and Savory Edibles is a practical guide on using phytocannabinoids (THC, CBD) to enrich well-being through cuisine. An established food author already, Cheri began investigating the therapeutic benefits of cannabis at her doctor’s recommendation to aid with the chronic nausea she was experiencing at the time. After experiencing the benefits first-hand she became a outspoken advocate in California’s medical marijuana movement in addition to launching the internet’s first online cannabis cooking course.
You only need to try marinara once to become an addict; to that end, Baked Italian: Over 50 Mediterranean Marijuana Meals has you covered. Chef Yzabetta Sativa flips the classic Italian dining experience on its head and offers up a full complement of dishes, from Lamb Carpaccio to Tiramisu, and of course the classic Spaghetti Marinara with a cannabis twist. With multiple traditional seven-course Italian meals including options for aperitivo, antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno, dolce, caffe and digestivo, this book will have you cooking hearty meals that make mamma proud.
Vegan Cannabis Cookbook?
Finally, for those who like a little extra plant in their plant-based diet, The Vegan Cannabis Cookbook: Vegan Recipes For Delicious Marijuana-Infused Edibles is a dessert-heavy cookbook offering infused meat-, egg- and dairy-free dishes for everyone. From exotic sounding avocado-based coconut lime cheesecake to refreshing cannabis chai, this book opens up the possibilities for healthy and delicious meals with an extra punch.
If you’re the type of person who desires a bit more hands-on instruction and are planning a trip to Denver, be sure to check out our Custom THC Cooking Class (also available as a Custom CBD Cooking Class), hosted in your en-suite kitchen by our very own in-house culinary professional. For more information on this or any other of our 420-friendly tours, activities, classes or experiences give us a call at (855) 694-2086 or book online at my420tours.com.
Disclaimer & Affiliate Link Notice
Disclaimer: Laws and regulations regarding hemp and marijuana vary from place to place, so be sure to check your local laws before attempting anything discussed in this article. As we are located in the great city of Denver, Colorado the activities described herein are legal locally at time of publication. This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to promote illegal activity. This article contains affiliate links. My 420 Tours is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. My 420 Tours earns a small commission on purchases made through certain links included in this article, which helps us in our mission to educate consumers, destigmatize responsible cannabis use and advocate for marijuana law reform.