Why cook with cannabis?
- Discreet – Unlike smoking or even vaporizing, edible cannabis provides a discreet way of ingestion.
- Long Lasting – While the effects of smoked or vaporized cannabis are more immediate, the effects of edible cannabis last longer, 3 to 4 hours or more depending on your metabolism
- More effective for certain ailments- Those who deal with chronic pain, neurological pain and insomnia report marijuana being more effective with edibles
- Control – You can use what type of cannabis that works best for you into the foods you like to eat
When you make it yourself you control which strain is used
- Use strains that are beneficial to your ailment
Control the Strength
- No matter where you are on the spectrum of THC tolerance, you can control the dose and strength of your edibles
Control all the ingredients
- Besides cannabis, when you make it yourself you control what you put into your body. Can’t have salt? Want to control the fat content? Want to use only organic ingredients, make it gluten free or vegan? You can do all that when you make your own edibles
What kind of cannabis to use
- The best kind of cannabis to use in your cooking is the kind that works best for you. Different strains affect people in different ways. A strain that makes one person feel energetic and euphoric might make another person feel anxious or paranoid. The beauty of making your own edibles is that you customize them for your specific needs. The number of different strains available now is mind boggling, it will take experimentation with many different strains to find the ones that work best for you. Rather than blindly choosing varieties based on their often silly names.
- Inhaled cannabis enters the body through the lungs, Edible cannabis is metabolized by the liver. When you inhale cannabis, you feel the results almost instantly. When you digest cannabis, it takes at least 30 minutes and as much as an hour and a half or longer before you feel the effects
Duration of effects
- The effects of inhaled cannabis dissipate relatively quickly. An hour or so after smoking or vaporizing, most effects if not all will have worn off. With edibles, the effect can last for several hours and will usually completely dissipate in about 4 hours.
- It’s easy to get just the right amount of inhaled cannabis, when you feel the effects you stop. That’s the end until you do more. The strength of edibles can vary widely, even when using similar plant material to make them. Furthermore, because it takes so long to take effect, people often think edibles aren’t working and eat more, resulting in overmedication
- Certain medical conditions such as insomnia or chronic pain tend to respond well to edible cannabis. For some patients it is not necessary to have a psychoactive dose in order to receive some benefit. In fact, for pain management, many patients eat small amounts throughout the day in order to keep a baseline dose in their system without ever feeling high
- Regardless of how it is taken, the most commonly reported side effect of using cannabis is what some call “cottonmouth”, dry mouth is the medical term. This unfortunate but not serious side effect tends to be more pronounced with edibles.
Indica strains are known for giving a body high, their effects tend to be relaxing and felt throughout the entire body. Indicas are especially good at bedtime
Sativa strains are known for giving a head high. Their effects tend to be more energizing. Many people like sativas for sparking creativity. If you need to be awake and alert while using medication, sativa is usually the right choice
Hybrids are a mix of the two, sometimes the dominant quality of a pure indica or pure sativa is too much. For instance, some people get too sleepy with a pure indica. Others feel anxiety or paranoia with a pure sativa. A hybrid can mitigate the negatives and accentuate the positives. Depending on the strain, it may be indica or sativa dominant.
Edible Marijuana Essentials
- Both combustible and edible cannabis depend on THC to produce the ‘high’
- The effects of edibles have a longer onset and take longer to dissipate than combustables
- The most common side effect of cannabis is dry mouth
- It is not necessary to feel high in order to experience medicinal benefits from cannabis
- Indica strains tend to produce a relaxing “full body high”
- Sativa strains tend to produce energetic, creative “head highs”
- Hybrid strains combine the best of indicas and sativas in varying proportions
It’s easy to get a proper dose of inhaling cannabis, you feel the effects almost immediately and when you’ve had enough you simply stop, and the effects wear off relatively quickly. Getting the proper dose with edibles is much trickier. Thankfully in the state of PA, all the product is lab tested so we know what percentage of THC or CBD we are working with when we buy the product. All cannabis is not created equal. The same amounts of different strains of cannabis will not be equal in potency. Even identical strains from different growers, or different crops of the same strain from the same grower, will vary. Aside from potency, every cannabis strain is different, each containing varying degrees of specific cannabinoids. This is why some strains make you sleepy and others make you energetic. If you are cooking with a new strain, test its potency and effects both before cooking and before eating a normal portion in order to estimate its strength. Even though there may be some variations, keeping notes on the strains you cook with has value. As you become more experienced and try different strains in edibles, you will find some that work better than others. Carefully evaluate how you feel after trying new strains, taking notes will help you figure out what types of products work best for you. In addition to the type and quality of the cannabis used, other variables will affect the strength of edibles. The weight of the person eating the food will alter how much they feel the medicine. Naturally, larger people usually need larger doses and smaller people, smaller doses. I say usually because, different individuals have different doses. Different individuals have different metabolisms and tolerance levels, and react to cannabis in different ways. The frequency the person uses cannabis will affect how much they will need to physically feel the effects. The more you use, the greater your tolerance will be. However, frequent and heavy cannabis consumers who stop for even a day or two will likely experience a heightened effect the first time they use cannabis again after abstaining. Before adding cannabis to your cooking, consider the desired final outcome. Some patients want little psychoactive effects, other seek a strong high. Dose accordingly. Also be careful when consuming alcohol with cannabis as it can compound the effects of cannabis, and for many people the mix of alcohol and cannabis produces an unpleasant paranoid effect.
What if the dose is too high?
Getting too strong a dose is a common problem, especially to people who are new to using edible cannabis. In fact, there is no easier way to take too much marijuana than by eating it, and no quicker way to get turned off to edibles than by ingesting too much cannabis. Because it can take so long for the edibles to kick in, many people will think its not working and eat more. By the time it all kicks in they realize they’ve overdone it. If this happens, do not panic, it is impossible to ingest a toxic dose of cannabis. Overdosing on cannabis will not kill you, you may feel dizzy, groggy, nauseous or get chills. Your coordination might be affected, some people experience heart rate acceleration which can further increase anxiety. The most common real danger from over medicating comes in the form of falls or accidents related to impairment of motor skills. The best remedy for ingesting too much cannabis is to simply sleep it off. The peak of the effects should take place about an hour after you begin to notice them, and then begin to dissipate after that. It’s common to feel anxious or hyperactive in the first hour, before becoming tired afterwards. Go lie down, go to sleep and when you wake up in a few hours it will all be over. Unlike indulging in too much alcohol, you won’t have to deal with a hangover. Should you discover a given batch of any recipe is stronger than you want it to be, don’t discard it. The remedy is simple, consume a smaller portion in order to decrease the dosage.
How to test an edibles strength
A quick way to get a indication of the strength of cannabis before cooking with it is to smoke or vaporize a small amount. While cooking will produce a somewhat different and often stronger effect, smoking or vaporizing will give you a ballpark idea of what to expect in regard to potency. If you don’t know how strong a given batch of cannabis butter, oil or edibles is, it’s best to test the waters before chowing down. Start with half a portion, or even quarter portion if you consider yourself a lightweight. Wait at least an hour and a half, if you feel the effects of the cannabis don’t eat anymore. If you don’t, try another piece or alternatively wait until the next day and try a larger portion. Even if you don’t feel a high you will still be getting medicinal benefits
- When determining dosing, be sure to consider the weight and tolerance level of the user in addition to the strength and strain of cannabis
- The potency of the same strain of cannabis will vary from grower to grower and even crop to crop
- While eating too much cannabis might result in an unpleasant experience, it is not dangerous or fatal and will pass in 4 to 8 hours
- Keep cannabis edibles well labeled in order to avoid confusion with regular foods, and keep them out of reach of those not allowed access. If you know the strength and amount of servings, it is usually a good idea to mark these down so you know what you’re ingesting
THC evaporates at temperatures greater than 392 degrees F. You can cook at temperatures higher than that, as long as the temperature of the food itself doesn’t get that high. Baked foods pose no problems when cooking with cannabis even at oven temperatures in excess of 400 degrees F. The same can be said of foods that are deep-fried, as long as the internal temperature of the food itself doesn’t go above 392 degrees F, and the cannabis is contained inside the food. If you put cannabis in the batter or breading, and heat it too high, you’ve probably wasted some good cannabis. You also have to be careful when sauteing, as the surface temperature of the foods can get very high. Depending on the recipe, you may be able to saute providing the cannabis is contained inside the food and the internal temperature doesn’t get too high. You always want to avoid using cannabis butter or oil as the fat that goes into the pan. Rather, use them as the fats that go into the food. When making marinades, a very tiny amount of the cannabis oil will actually be absorbed into the food and most will end up in the trash. Since cannabis is an expensive cooking ingredient, don’t waste it in a marinade! Add it to the food that will actually be consumed instead.
In order for THC in cannabis to metabolize, it needs the presence of fat, alcohol of glycerine. We need to consider the fat content of our foods. If you are cooking with cannabis with infused butter or oil this step is covered. Dairy products work especially well in cannabis cooking because the presence of lecithin, an emulsifier that helps bind THC to fat. Vegetarian and vegans should note that lecithin is also present in many milk substitutes, including soy milk and rice milk.
Generally speaking, the more delicate the recipes flavor, the harder it will be to make it taste good with cannabis added. Unless you enjoy the herbal flavor of cannabis infusing your food, and some people do, you will want to consider the flavor profile of the recipe you are trying to adapt. We’re not saying you will eliminate all traces of cannabis flavor, nor should you try to. Normally the higher the levels of THC in your edibles, the more ‘green’ flavor you will taste.
What makes edibles so potent?
When cannabis is smoked, it’s THC that produces the range of psychoactive effects experienced; but it’s a different story when it comes to edibles. Although it’s THC that is eaten, the molecule takes a different metabolic pathway. Orally consumed cannabis travels through the digestive tract, where THC is absorbed and gradually transported to the liver. When it reaches this vital organ, the molecule is metabolised into its derivative, 11-hydroxy-THC. This substance then makes its way through the blood-brain barrier and produces much stronger psychoactive effects than THC itself.
Math for Edibles
To figure out the strength of your edibles now we get into some math.
First we need to figure out the strength of our cannabis
For flower, if you have 1 gram at 20%
(1,000 x .20 ) = 200mg of THC
For RSO or distillate syringes it would look something like this
1 gram of distillate at 83.9%
(1,000 x .839 ) = 838 mg of THC
Now we need to figure out the volume of what we are infusing, and the size of a serving
If cooking gummies or some other type of candy, you want to add the cannabis right into the gummy mix or whatever type of candy base you are creating
So let’s say we have 300 grams of gummy mix, and our gummies come out to 3 ml molds
So if we have 838 mg of THC from the above distillate, and we infuse it into 300 grams of gummy mix
(838 mg / 300 grams) = 2.79 mg per gram of mix
Then we multiply that number by the size of a serving to figure out the strength of our gummies
(2.79mg x 3 ml ) = 8.38 mg gummies
If cooking with butter or oil, it gets a bit more complicated because you need to use a certain amount of butter for the recipe.
So let’s say you infuse 2 cups of butter/oil with cannabis distillate like we did above with 839 mg
2 cups = 32 tablespoons = 480 ml
(839 mg / 480 ml ) = 1.74 mg per ml
Now that we know the strength per ML we can figure out the strength of a tablespoon
1 tablespoon = 15 ml
15 ml x 1.74 = 26.1 mg per tablespoon
So if you take 3 tbsp out of this 2 cups, and use it in the recipe along with non infused butter to get the desired amount of butter for the recipe
(3 tbsp x 26.1 mg) = 78.3 mg of infused butter/oil in your recipe
Now we divide that by 12 servings
(78.3mg / 12 ) = 6.525 mg per brownie
These numbers will vary based on the recipe / product you use, but by plugging the numbers in correctly you can figure out how to properly dose your edibles and be able to control the strength of them.
http://hempster.co/edible-dosage-calculator/ calculator for edibles to make it easier!