Putting a Potent Spin on Traditional Pesto Using CBD
by Bethan Rose
Combining the benefits of cannabis with delicious food has been growing in popularity, and when you try it yourself, you’ll understand why. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than throwing some bud in a bowl with flour and sugar. Like fine cooking in general, baking with cannabis is a process that you can refine with practice, smart techniques, and tasty base ingredients.
In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of cooking with cannabis and lay out some delicious recipes to start with. You’ll be a pro cannabis chef in no time.
First things first—you need some good old-fashioned ganja! The traditional way to make homemade edibles is to start with cannabis flower (i.e., dried cannabis plant); though fairly time-consuming and tedious, this method is very effective. Using flower also gives you the most options when it comes to choosing a strain. If you’d rather skip the mess of this method, however, you can also make edibles using homemade or store-bought cannabis tincture—simply add some to your recipe.
When picking out a strain for your edibles, it’s best to use a familiar one that has worked well for you in other consumption forms (smoking, vaping, etc.). Other than that, the strain you choose should be based on the benefit you’re looking to get from your edibles, whether that’s pain relief, relaxation, increased energy, or something else. Try searching for strains based on your desired effect:
Indica strains are known for being more sedating, and sativas more uplifting, but these identifiers are becoming outdated (learn more about them here). Focus more on cannabinoid ratios (THC:CBD) and terpene profiles when seeking a specific effect. For example, a strain high in CBD and linalool or myrcene will be very calming, while a strain high in THC and limonene will be more euphoric.
The next step to making homemade cannabis edibles is decarboxylating your cannabis flower. Without decarboxylation, cannabis won’t provide medicinal or recreational benefits. What you’ll get instead is a superfood rich in vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much research that analyzes the effects of raw cannabis consumption, but the important fact here is that the raw product contains tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). When exposed to the proper amount of heat (i.e., decarboxylated) these acids activate to become tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the infamous cannabinoids we know and love.
Cannabis decarboxylation naturally occurs when the plant is smoked or vaporized. One of the reasons it’s worthwhile to decarb cannabis for edibles is its potency: Smoked cannabis isn’t fully activated when burned, but a carefully decarboxylated cannabis plant has all its potent potential ready for use.
There are two traditional methods of decarbing at home. One uses boiling water in a slow cooker, while the other involves baking your cannabis in the oven. You can also buy specialized (and expensive) heating devices that produce perfectly decarbed cannabis. Whatever method you choose, it’s important to note that decarboxylation is a process that takes hours and careful preparation to complete—and it must be done before you can cook anything with your cannabis.
For a deeper dive into decarboxylation and step-by-step instructions on how to do it, check out this post: Weed Decarboxylation: How to Decarb Cannabis
Once your decarbed cannabis is ready to go, there’s still one more step before it can be used in traditional baking recipes: infusing it into a base ingredient. You can add cannabis into yogurt, honey, butter, coconut oil, flour, sugar, and more. Doing this step ahead of time will make cooking with cannabis a breeze and greatly reduce the amount of time and effort needed to incorporate cannabis into your dishes at home.
This step is where you will determine the potency of your edibles, so it’s helpful to have a scale in your kitchen for more accurate measurements. Try out Veriheal’s edible dosage calculator to create perfectly dosed canna-treats.
When it comes to cannabis infusions, cannabutter has long been the favorite of cannabis chefs. It can be prepared in different ways, but our favorite one uses a slow cooker with a simple mixture of lecithin, decarbed flower, and butter. After cooking the mixture for hours to allow the cannabis to properly infuse with the butter, the mixture is strained, cooled, and put in the fridge to set. Just like normal butter, cannabis butter can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks before going bad.
Check out our recipes for cannabutter and other basic infusions:
With your cannabis infusion ready to go, it’s time for the fun part—making your medicinal goodies! You can incorporate your infusion into your cooking and baking in so many different ways, from making a batch of brownies to garnishing normal snacks and meals. Looking to quickly elevate some food? Cannabis-infused butter, oil, and honey can be used as-is on bread rolls, baked potatoes, oatmeal, and so much more.
Check out these beginner-friendly edible recipes:
It’s important to note that regardless of your baking skill, the process of making cannabis edibles is not an exact science. Decarboxylation done at home, in addition to changes that occur during cooking and baking, means that the exact potency of the final product can vary. When it comes time to eat your cannabis-infused food, start with a small amount and wait about 2 hours before consuming any more.
Making homemade edibles is a fun and effective way to consume your cannabis. Simply follow these steps:
Always keep in mind that edibles are potent cannabis products that should be consumed carefully. You can learn more about edibles as a consumption method in these posts:
This blog post was originally published on 1/6/20. Updated 8/19/22.
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