How are edibles infused?
I would like to begin with my original resource and favored acquisition, The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook by Robyn Griggs Lawrence. If you do not have a copy and intend to cook with cannabis I highly recommend you pick up a copy, a well rounded source on using cannabis for cooking.
Edible extraction science simply put is that honey, milk, oils, and butters all bind with THC-a and CBD-a, when heated gently they extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant matter and convert them into THC and CBD. Alcohol and glycerin maceration may also be used to extract cannabinoids, heating increases processing time and potency with this method.
I will cover the topic to the best of my knowledge, I am not a doctor nor a culinary professional, the following is my understanding of the data available to me.
In its natural state is infused and includes plenty of terpenes, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory treating CBD, a complete protein containing omega fatty acids and essential amino acids. Patients can juice raw cannabis fan leaves or eat raw cannabis flower daily allowing them the therapeutic benefit with little to no psychotropic effect. Leaves can be juiced or chopped and added to salads, flowers are recommended to blend into smoothies or juice, cannabis is bitter it is recommended to complement accordingly with your ingredients to achieve the best flavor. Cannabis seeds fall under raw cannabis, minimal THC content with a nut butter taste. Easy to consume and can be eaten shelled like sunflowers seeds or ground into powder and mixed into oils. The golden rule of edibles applies for raw cannabis as well, start low, go slow; Effects may take 1-3 hours.
We have come to learn that cannabis high in THCa, the acidic, raw, non-psychotropic form of THC has been shown to have immensely successful therapeutic value. This value is appreciated by those treating children with cannabis.(1) Consuming unactivated THC-acid therapies is great for many older patients looking for an alternative to the “high” but still getting the benefits of treatment. Patients treating with MS, ALS, autism and fibromyalgia report successful anecdotal results from THCa therapies.(2) THCa has also been proven to be of medicinal benefit to those dealing with nausea.(3)(4)
THCa sublingual tinctures can be found at most dispensaries.
Oils & Butters
These cooking fats are commonly used in most edibles. They are infused by heating the cured cannabis, your selected fat and water together, then straining out the infused fat/oil from the water and plant matter. Ratios depend on desired potency and will vary batch to batch. For optimal infusions the method is low and slow at no more than 200 degrees fahrenheit. Ghee infused with cannabis is another option for the lactose intolerant and can be stored unrefrigerated for up to 6 weeks. All of these vehicles offer the means to add activated cannabis to any meal.
The effects of THC are intensified by protein rich, fatty foods, they come on fast and diminish quickly with sugar and when THC is mixed with alcohol it may cause paranoia. When baking with infused fats never exceed 300 degrees fahrenheit and increase cooking time by 50 percent.(5) Every time you heat your infused butter or oil you run the risk of burning off cannabinoids so know that. THC that is processed through the liver last longer and is more potent. Many patients look to edibles as alternative to smoking cannabis but find the inconsistency in dosing problematic.
Concentrates are typically infused over a low heat melting into oil or butter. Using concentrates reduces the herbal flavor and are far more potent than using plant matter. Solventless products are preferred for health reasons, bubble hash and dry sift being optimal. When working with waxes and other firm concentrates may require more effort in the beginning dissolving the concentrate but little straining of impurities at the end of the process.(6) Some edibles are made with concentrate infused oil/butter and some have cannabis oil sprayed on top(7). Keif is the powder in the bottom of your grinder, trichomes from your cannabis. Hash is heated and pressed trichomes. When using hash or kief, once decarbed, they can be added directly into the recipe or food in some cases. (8)
There are many edibles on the market infused with concentrates, read labels, ask questions; How was the concentrate processed or where was it sourced from? Edibles made with concentrates tend to be more potent with a quicker onset, with edibles effect already being more potent, and with longer lasting effects should all be taken under consideration.
These are important things to know and understand about edibles. We need to know how edibles are infused and what we are putting into our bodies. How was the cannabis in your edible processed? Use this information to make the best treatment choice for optimal results. There are various appeals to edibles beyond that of those looking to not smoke. Edibles effects last longer and therapeutic benefits outlast the high, raw cannabis and cannabis seed add another layer to holistic nutrition aspects and if you are looking for a potent edible try one infused with concentrate.
Thank you for your interest in learning more about how cannabis edibles are infused. Next week we will discuss micro and nano dosing.
Pure Analytics (2)
THCa and CBDa (4)
Medical Jane (5)
The Cannabist (6)
The Denver Post (7)
Cannabis Cheri (8)