Step 1: Decarboxylation
The first step to cooking or baking with cannabis is to decarboxylate the cannabinoids. This is necessary because molecules such as CBD, CBG, and THC are produced within the cannabis plant in their acidic form (CBDa, CBGa, THCa) and must be altered prior to consumption to achieve their beneficial effects. This is traditionally done via heating the flower when smoking it but must be its own step if one wishes to cook with it.
“Decarboxylation” sounds much more complicated than it is. Essentially, we boil off the acidic part of the molecule in a sealed container at a specified heat and time. There are many options around the house which would be sufficient; a glass Pyrex dish with a glass lid can be used in either the oven or the microwave, for example, with the oven being preferable than the microwave.
Start by grinding the flower rather fine, 1mm-4mm ought to be enough (think table salt vs. rock salt), but don’t stress about the size. Just remember, the more surface area exposed, the more even the decarboxylation. Additionally, the rate of decarboxylation is dependent on the ration of surface area to mass. As a result, it is advisable to start with a smaller amount (3.5-7g of flower) when practicing before working your way up to larger recipes. If there’s more than ½ an inch of ground flower covering the entire container, you need to either purchase a larger container, or use less flower.
From there, preheat your oven to a temperature between 200- and 250-degrees Fahrenheit. Place the ground flower in your sealed Pyrex dish (or any temperature-resistant sealable container) and put that dish in the oven. It’s important the container is sealed, as the cannabinoids, and especially the volatile terpenes, can be lost if left uncovered while being heated.
This article below is incredibly helpful for deciding how long to heat the flower for. A good rule of thumb is to keep oven temperatures around 230-degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes, but individual variances in oven heating patterns makes this suggestion more of an art than a science. Once the allotted time has passed, remove the container from the oven and allow to cool prior to opening. The flower should look golden-brown, toasted, but not charred. If you’ve successfully completed this step, you’re ready to infuse the cannabinoids into a solution for baking or cooking!
In our next blog, we will talk about how to infuse butter with cannabis, then bake the final product into a delicious treat perfect for hitting that sweet tooth.
For more information about cannabis decarboxylation times and temperatures, check this research study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28861498