Edibles, concentrates and topicals - Part 2

Part 2 of 2: Cooking with cannabis — tips from the Signature kitchen


Now that the next wave of cannabis legalization has happened in Canada, you may be interested in making cannabis edibles in your own kitchen. A good starting point is to set aside about 1 ounce (28 grams) of cannabis flowers, trim or leaf material to process into butter or oil. The better quality the product is going in, the better your edibles will be. If you are using whole cannabis flower, grind it beforehand to make available as many cannabinoids as possible to infuse into your edibles.

You’re probably wondering how you can get started. Follow these tips for making the most of cooking with cannabis:

Keep it clean

When preparing to make edibles, it is important to use cannabis that is clean and free from mould, insects and fertilizers. Fungi such as powdery mildew and aspergillus, as well as spider mites and insect residue, may not be visible to the naked eye. If your cannabis is a gift, you may be unsure whether the plants were leached of fertilizers and chemicals before processing. Plants grown indoors are more susceptible to carrying problematic pollutants, as they don’t receive the benefit of the sun’s pathogen-killing UV rays.

Even a small amount of exposure to pollutants can adversely affect those with compromised immune systems. If you’re sourcing to make edibles, two good options are: growing your own cannabis using organic gardening practices; or purchasing organic cannabis from your licensed producer. But if your cannabis comes from an unknown source, or you’re unsure whether it contains contaminants, follow a cleaning regimen before you begin.

Method: Place cannabis flowers and trim in a sieve. Make a 0.5% hydrogen peroxide solution by mixing 125 ml 3% hydrogen peroxide into 10 L of water. Submerge cannabis flowers into the solution for 1-3 minutes. Shake dry.

During the cleaning process, fungi and pollutants will rise to the surface of the solution. Simply skim away any grease, dirt or other contaminants and rinse clean with plain water.


Bring on the heat

The active compounds in raw cannabis are acidic. They are not psychoactive. These acidic compounds require a heating process called decarboxylation before they cause a psychoactive reaction within the body. Decarboxylation removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide (CO2). The cooking process will activate some compounds but is still inefficient. You’ll need to decarboxylate dried cannabis flowers before baking edibles to feel the full effects. It sounds intimidating, but the process is simple and can be done easily in your own home.

Method: Pre-heat your oven to 200-300oF. Remove stems from your dried cannabis flowers. Break flowers into small pieces and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 40-60 minutes, turning often.

An appliance such as the Magical Butter II machine decarboxylates automatically when preloaded with butter or oil. This process takes the guesswork (and odour!) out of cannabinoid activation.

Alternatively, using hash in your cannabis kitchen bypasses the need to decarboxylate, as the cannabinoids have already been activated with heat. Buying pre-made cannabis oil from your licensed producer will also ensure you are ready to bake – no heat processing required beforehand. Simply follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Note: To avoid destroying terpenes and other active cannabinoids, do not bake edibles at temperatures higher than 350oF.


“Start low and go slow”

This isn’t just a slogan – it’s a simple way to ensure you consume edibles safely and responsibly. Health Canada recommends you choose edibles infused with a small amount of THC and some CBD. Start by consuming a small section. Wait at least an hour to see how it affects you before eating more. Avoid combining cannabis edibles with alcoholic beverages. And always use edibles when you’re in a familiar environment with people you trust. Following these guidelines will help you feel at ease so you can get the most out of your experience.

General relaxation and body fatigue are normal effects after consuming. For that reason, medical cannabis patients enjoy edibles before bedtime. Sleep comes easily, and patients find they sleep better through the night after consuming. Everyone’s body is different, so it’s important to start slowly with edible cannabis products. If you’ve accidentally consumed too much you could feel anxious, disoriented, even nauseated. Drink water and make yourself comfortable. The unwell feeling will pass.

Never drive while high, and don’t go to work if you’re intoxicated. If you have serious health issues or are unsure about how edible cannabis will affect you, consult your healthcare professional before consuming.


Lock it up

It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure cannabis stays out of the hands – and mouths – of youth. This is particularly true of edibles, as in the freezer or cupboard they could easily be mistaken for regular-type treats.

Always secure cannabis out of the reach of children and pets: keep your work area clean and sweep the floor to avoid accidentally leaving wayward cannabis material available to youngsters and furry friends. Also, label your cannabis recipes and concoctions, clearly indicating the ingredients used and the proportion of cannabis within. Secure edibles in a child-proof container or lock box.

Enjoy your harvest season - and have fun in the kitchen!