With cannabis edibles becoming federally legalized in Canada later this year, we’re finding that more and more of our readers are scrambling for information on the subject. The following is a list of topics you’ll need to familiarize yourself with as you begin exploring the fascinating and complex world of cannabis-infused edibles. Welcome to your quick guide to cannabis-infused edibles.
For months, cannabis consumers and enthusiasts have been reading headlines about exciting new product and business developments in not only infused edibles, but private dinners, consumption lounges, and infused beverages as well. At Puff Puff Post, our readers have shown great interest in the different delivery systems available to enhance their culinary experiences. This article gives non-introductory users an introductory guide to edibles so they can research the answers for themselves.
In a recent Skunk Magazine interview with cannabis Chef Laurent Dagenais of TheTerpenes.net and Guy Degrace, Product Knowledge Expert Sales at HEXO Corp, Degrace stated: “For any beginner, the most important part of cooking with cannabis is “titration”, or ‘start low and go slow.’” If you’re making any kind of edibles at home and you’re not sure how to dose, you don’t want to overdo it. It’s important to find the right dose to provide the desired effects. Ingesting too much of the plant could result in improper distribution of cannabinoids throughout your cooking and an undesirable reaction to the cannabis.
There’s a lot to consider when making edibles in terms of THC or CBD dosing. The temperature at which you extract or prepare your cannabis edibles can largely affect the outcome, flavour, or potency of the product. This brings us to “decarboxylation.” What is decarboxylation? It’s a chemical reaction that occurs when cannabis is heated, removing a carboxyl group and releasing carbon dioxide (CO2). Only once heated to this point are the full effects of cannabis felt by the user through ingestion. Degrace added that the plant decarboxylates naturally throughout its life cycle. “What it’s doing at that time is taking the THCA, then through the process of decarboxylation, separating the acid molecule (the A in THCA), which makes it ‘bindable’ to your endocannabinoid system.” This makes it THC-neutral, or simply THC.
Cannabis isolate is CBD or THCA isolate in its purest form. With pure isolate, the terpenes, chlorophyll, and any organic matter are completely removed. The isolate then appears as a white, crystallized powder, which, due to the extraction process, should be rendered completely odorless and tasteless. This is obviously very attractive to companies looking to produce infused products on a commercial level and wishing to remove any cannabis flavor profile.
Cannabis distillate, however, is a very different product than isolate. While isolate is the pure product, distillate contains a range of cannabinoids. Distillate appears as an oil that varies in density. It is created through a process called distillation which can be broken down by full distillation or short-path distillation. Short-path distillation produces distillate that can reach 99 percent purity and is described by Lab Society as “a process in which one separates compounds by boiling/condensation, using a vacuum pump.” Because this is a quick guide to cannabis-infused edibles, we’re not going too deep on the topic, but check back for future explorations of distillate and associated processes.
Terpenes are often discussed when cooking with cannabis. There are so many existing strains with full-bodied flavour profiles that it can seem overwhelming to someone venturing into the vast world of cannabis edibles. Terpenes can be found in everyday plant life as well, not just cannabis. For example, pinene is the most active terpene in a pine tree, which gives us what we recognize as “pine scent.” Here are the 10 most commonly found in cannabis:
Chef Laurent says, “It’s not always easy for everyone to get the certain strains they want with certain terpenes. However, as a chef, it is always a goal to pair a dish with terpenes. If you have a strong lemon kush, for example, which has high limonene terpene, it’s always great to prepare that with something that pairs well with lemon or citrus.”
OIL / BUTTER
There are countless recipes and methods online to guide you in creating your own dried cannabis flower oils and butters, at home. Most consist of drying and grinding your flower and cooking it at a low base temperature for a significant amount of time. Because cannabinoids are fat-soluble, aspiring cannabis chefs may want to note that for these home extractions, you should make sure the recipe you’re using contains an oil-based ingredient that can be infused. Look for fats like butter, ghee, lard, shortening, and other vegetable or nut oils. Ultimately, making your own butter and oils at home and experimenting with different recipes through trial and error will help you get the best understanding of cannabis edibles.
We hope this quick guide to cannabis-infused edibles is a helpful tool to all our readers, whether researching for personal use or plain curiosity. There is no doubt a gleaming future for the cannabis-infused edibles market and home cooking experience alike.