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baking weed cookies after you soak your cannabis seeds

Should You Wash Cannabutter for Better Tasting Edibles?

Generally speaking, the edibles you purchase from a reputable dispensary or online store taste great. Whether you want hash brownies or THC gummies, you can expect a pleasant flavor. However, when you create edibles at home using cannabutter, the process doesn’t always go smoothly. Inexperienced cannabis bakers, in particular, find that homemade edibles fall far short of store-bought standards.

The main issue relates to the cannabutter itself. Sometimes, you’ll find that your creation is green, has a gritty texture, and tastes awful. Fortunately, the process of washing your cannabutter can solve many of these texture and flavor problems. Let’s find out more.

Why Do My Homemade Edibles Taste Horrible?

The most likely reason is due to the marijuana you use to create the cannabutter. Cannabis contains salts, chlorophyll, and other inert compounds that are absorbed into the butter. The result is an unpleasant tasting product.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to wash out the bad-tasting material from your cannabutter. THC isn’t water-soluble, so your edibles won’t lose their potency as long as you’re careful with the temperature range.

However, it’s inadvisable to add water to your butter until you’ve already strained out the cannabis. Otherwise, you’ll restrict the THC absorption process, leading to more salts, chlorophyll, and other unpleasant things absorbing in the butter.

How to Wash Your Cannabutter

Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to washing your cannabutter.

  1. Melt your cannabutter in a pot and ensure the mixture doesn’t go above a maximum temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal range is between 212 and 230 degrees.
  2. Add the same amount of water to the pot as its cannabutter content. For instance, if you have 400ml of cannabutter when it is melted, add 400ml of water. Stir for a minimum of 30 seconds to remove the unwanted material.
  3. Place the melted mixture into the fridge until the water has separated from the butter and the butter is solid. Don’t make the mistake of placing the mixture in the freezer to try and speed up the process. All you’ll succeed in doing is ruining the consistency of the cannabutter.
  4. Once the butter is fully cooled, you’ll notice it floating on top of the water. Drain the water, and benefit from delicious and clean cannabutter.

While washing your cannabutter can help the taste and potency, going through several cycles can damage its quality.

You can repeat the above steps as many times as you like until you get the desired taste. After the first attempt, you’ll probably find that the butter has a lighter texture and flavor. Put it through another cycle, and it may become harder and perhaps have a slightly nutty flavor.

The cannabutter also has a higher THC potency when you wash it a couple of times. That said, don’t overdo it by washing your cannabutter multiple times. With too many wash cycles, the quality of the butter deteriorates.

Why Not Clean Your Cannabis Before Cooking?

There is another way to enjoy clean-tasting edibles. You can ‘wash’ your marijuana before you even make the cannabutter. When you try to make it with unwashed plant matter, the process involves adding butter, oil, and water. Then you allow the mixture to simmer. However, this process adds burned terpenes, flavonoids, and chlorophyll to the mix.

It is often said that getting your marijuana wet is a bad idea. However, you MUST expose it to water if you want to clean it.

Bear in mind that flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll tend to burn off between 100 and 212 degrees. They leave behind a nasty burnt taste. This is why you get the same ‘weed’ taste regardless of the strain you use in your cannabutter. The process of cleaning your marijuana flower eliminates this problem and gives you fresher-tasting cannabutter. Here’s how you do it in a step-by-step fashion.

What are the benefits? …

Clean & Blanch Your Cannabis

  1. Weigh your buds, break them apart and place the stems and pieces in a French press.
  2. Soak the material for up to three days, making sure you change the water twice a day.
  3. Press the plunger up and down to ‘agitate’ the material. Change the water if you see any bubbles during this process.
  4. Once the water runs clear, move the buds to a tea strainer.
  5. Place the strainer in boiling water for approximately five minutes.
  6. Immediately transfer it to a bowl of ice water for 60 seconds. This ‘shocks’ the marijuana and marks the end of the cleaning process.

Drying & Decarboxylating Your Marijuana

  1. Begin the drying and decarboxylation process of removing excess moisture from the bud by using a salad spinner to spin out the water.
  2. Break the buds apart, and place them in an oven that’s preheated to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Tightly cover the buds with foil to reduce the marijuana scent, and leave it in the oven for an hour.
  4. Let it remain in the oven for an additional five minutes when the time is up. This ensures that any steam inside settles.
  5. Once you remove the foil, make sure the bud is totally dry. Allowing any residual moisture to remain will leave an herbal taste in your cannabutter. If the plant matter isn’t fully dry, cover it with a paper towel and leave it at room temperature overnight.

Infusing Your Cannabis

Weigh your buds again once they are cleaned and decarbed. You’ll notice that they are significantly lighter. What was once 14 grams will likely weigh 6-10 grams now. Calculate the potency of your cannabutter by noting the weight of the bud and its THC percentage. Now, it is time to make your edibles!

  1. Pick the fat you want to infuse with cannabis. For best results, choose a high-fat oil (like coconut oil) or butter.
  2. Put the clean bud into a French press and add the fat. If you’re using a solid oil or butter, melt it first.
  3. Push the plunger down to the top of the oil line and immerse the press into a pot of water. Slowly bring the water to a boil.
  4. Allow the bud to steep in the oil for four hours or in butter for three hours.
  5. Finally, push the plunger down the full way and put the cannabutter into a storage container. Refrigerate and enjoy! You can keep it in the fridge for up to two months.

Final Thoughts on Washing Cannabutter

Whether you want to wash your cannabutter is a matter of personal preference. However, those who go through the process enjoy the fresh taste and say it massively improves their enjoyment of edibles.

It is a relatively simple process that requires little more than your cannabutter, water, heat, and a little patience. If you have a French press, it is worth trying to clean your marijuana buds before creating cannabutter. Doing so removes the bitter-tasting compounds that can otherwise make your edibles taste unpleasant.

Beyond Brownies: The Science of Cooking with Cannabis

Full article reprinted with permission from America's Test Kitchen. The piece originally appeared online at the Cook's Science website. Author Andy Wright is a writer based out of San Francisco. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Matter, Popular Mechanics, Atlas Obscura, Pacific Standard and other publications. She is the former deputy editor of Modern Farmer. Learn more at her website, Twitter and Instagram.

THE HERBAL CHEF

The first course was herbed white beans with grapefruit, blood orange and asparagus with heirloom carrot, sumac, pomegranate and 2 milligrams of THC. Then came hamachi and caviar alongside asparagus rolled in hemp seed; broccoli stalks with THC-infused habanero mousse and dandelion purée; and lamb Wellington anointed with a spice rub, mint pesto, and a THC-dosed lamb jus. Eight courses and 10 milligrams later, the guests had grown convivial, suit jackets slung over chairs, giggling as a live cellist played in the background. By the end, says chef Chris Sayegh, everyone was “euphoric.”

That's a typical dinner event for Sayegh, known as the Herbal Chef. Sayegh, who artfully laces his dishes with THC like some might use hot peppers or fresh basil, routinely hosts such meals, with price tags in the hundreds, and he plans to open the nation’s first cannabis-themed restaurant by the end of 2017.

Chef Chris Sayegh addresses the crowd at Green Table, a dinner attended by members of the cannabis industry and investors. Photo by Henry Drayton, courtesy of The Herbal Chef.

But tonight is a departure from his usual fare. He’s spent about a week creating a sprawling THC-infused landscape of jolly cookie-adorned houses, a towering Christmas tree, a fondant-encased UFO (complete with disgorged, Santa-hat-wearing space aliens), and fluffy bushes made of confectioners’-sugar-dusted cannabis nugs.

But no one will nibble on this intoxicating masterpiece.

Sayegh is at the forefront of a growing movement to reimagine cannabis in the kitchen, and he’s become known for his many-coursed gourmet THC-infused dinners in a style he describes as “French with Italian and Middle Eastern influence.” But tonight his gingerbread construction—which he’s created for a party benefitting the victims of a warehouse fire in Northern California—is just for show. Sayegh hasn’t lab-tested the village, so he doesn’t know how potent it might be, and he won’t serve imprecisely dosed food. Once upon a time, the menu included cannabis-infused appetizers to appease guests salivating over the off-limits village, but it turns out cocktails are on offer at this party, and mixing cannabis edibles with liquor can make for a “dizzy” experience, he says; he doesn’t serve them together. Guests still partake of his hors d’oeuvres, but they’re made solely from non-mind-expanding ingredients. Navigating such things are all part of the job; complications traditional chefs have never pondered.

Take all the problems an average chef has to deal with and throw in a psychoactive ingredient that requires some scientific chops, and you start to understand the quandary Sayegh and his ilk are facing: How do you create cannabis meals that are effective, responsible, and also delicious?

Sayegh wears chef’s whites. He’s quick to smile, athletic, with his hair cropped short on the sides and a tight burst of sandy curls on top. His Maltese-poodle mix, MooMoo, is cavorting around his feet. Just a few years ago, you wouldn’t have found him in uniform, but pondering his fate at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was a sophomore studying molecular biology, homesick for the mansaf and other dishes his Jordanian family raised him on—and a fledgling pot smoker. A budding scientist, he decided that if he was going to get high, he should probably find out what it was doing to his body.

“Long story short, I started to research that and I had this epiphany,” says Sayegh. “I need to feed people proper nutrition from the earth and use plants as medicine.”

He dropped out of college and started his training in restaurants, logging time in Michelin-starred kitchens in New York and California while experimenting at home with cannabis. Entrepreneurial from the start, he trademarked the name “Herbal Chef” and started an Instagram account.

Lamb Wellington anointed with a spice rub, mint pesto, and a THC-dosed lamb jus. Photo by Henry Drayton, courtesy of The Herbal Chef.

It was the Instagram account—where he posts things like artfully plated cannabis-infused foie gras custard with blackberry gelée, fish with radish marinated in a cannabis-vinegar blend, and peppercorn-crusted strip steak in a medicated Cabernet Sauvignon reduction—that led to his first private dinner. Things snowballed from there. Now, in addition to his restaurant ambitions and dinners, he’s gearing up for a TV show he describes as “Anthony Bourdain meets Bear Grylls”. The restaurant alone has presented a list of challenges not faced by traditional restaurateurs, from training cooks and waiters to work with cannabis to finding a landlord willing to rent to him.

There isn’t a playbook for someone who wants to build an empire around cannabis cookery. In his early days, around 2010, Sayegh noticed vexing variations in his recipes, depending on the temperature, time, and variety of his base ingredient.

“The taste was off; the potency was off,” he says. “And there was no research on, ‘Hey, if you heat cannabis up to this point, you’ll lose potency.’”

You can’t take a Le Cordon Bleu class in THC or crib from Julia Child or Thomas Keller. Due to federal regulations, it’s tough for medical researchers to investigate cannabis, let alone food science or culinary programs. Chefs working with cannabis are literally writing their own cookbooks and becoming amateur scientists in search of the perfect high enrobed in the perfect meal.

Chris Sayegh, who defines himself as The Herbal Chef, creates multi-course, gourmet, cannabis-infused private dinners. Photo by Henry Drayton, courtesy of The Herbal Chef.

POT ENTERS THE LAB

“Herb” isn’t just cute shorthand for cannabis; cannabis is actually a flowering herb. The plant is indigenous to temperate and tropical parts of the globe, and archaeologists have uncovered proof that humans have been ingesting it in some form since prehistory. We like to smoke it and eat it, for ritual and medical reasons and just to have fun.

Chefs work with cannabis for lots of reasons, including a passion for its therapeutic properties, a love for the plant’s psychoactive effects, and the challenge of working with an ingredient that is only beginning to find its way into a fine-dining setting.

Because cooks use cannabis for its chemical effects, not just as a seasoning, a field of homespun, and increasingly more professional, technology has grown around it. Techniques for refining the plant matter into usable and potent ingredients range from stovetop simple to serious industrial processing—all in the quest to make bioavailable, accurately dosed dishes that also taste good.

Alice B. Toklas, who presided over literary salons in early twentieth-century Paris with partner Gertrude Stein, firmly ensconced the practice of cooking and eating cannabis in the cultural imagination with The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book. First published in 1954, it offered up a recipe for Hashish Fudge, which “anyone could whip up on a rainy day.” In addition to pulverizing a “bunch of cannabis sativa,” the recipe calls for black peppercorns, dried figs, and peanuts. In an introduction to the 1984 reprint of the book, food writer M.F.K. Fisher wrote that she had never tried one of the fudge brownies, but “am told they taste slightly bitter.” These days, no cannabis chef worth their herb would recommend throwing raw product into baked goods, but brownies can be an ideal vehicle for THC. It just takes a few more steps than Toklas imagined.

You could eat a pound of raw cannabis and not get high. That’s because the main functional ingredient in a cannabis bud is in the form of a compound called tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA. THCA has no psychoactive effect. But delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, does. Applying heat to THCA kicks off a process called decarboxylation, which transforms it into THC. When cannabis is smoked, THCA converts to THC along the way, and the process is largely taken for granted. Basically, every pot smoker, from a cancer patient to a teenage toker, embarks on an act of chemistry when they flick the lighter. But if you want to eat it instead of smoke it, things get more complicated. The most common way people decarboxylate, or “decarb,” cannabis for cooking is by toasting it on low heat (240 degrees Fahrenheit/116 degrees Celsius is a commonly recommended temperature) in an oven.

THC: THC is a cannabinoid, a chemical compound found within cannabis, of which there are many. Not all cannabinoids are psychoactive. THC, as well as others, such as cannabidiol, or CBD, are believed to have therapeutic properties. Chefs often tailor creations to try to maximize the effects of cannabinoids beyond THC.

Elise McDonough, edibles editor for High Times and author of The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook has become a kind of cannabis test-kitchen guru over the years, running experiments and lab testing the results.

The main concerns when decarbing, according to McDonough, are burning the cannabis or toasting it too long at too high a temperature. She recommends checking on it frequently and stirring it up if it gets too brown around the edges. The THC will evaporate at 392 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius, and at higher temps the THC starts converting to cannabinol, or CBN, a cannabinoid known for making people sleepy.

The overeager may wonder if they can just munch on the toasted bud—the answer is yes, but it’s kind of a waste.

“It’s been decarboxylated enough that you would feel it but not with the intensity and extent that you would if you mixed it into a fat and then ate it,” says McDonough. “Because the fat is really helping it be absorbed into your body.”

A bowl of Sativa Shrimp and Ganja Grits. Photo courtesy of Elise McDonough/HIGH TIMES.

THC is fat-soluble, which is why once it’s decarbed, cooks often infuse it into a butter or an oil, simmering it for hours on a stove or in a slow cooker and then straining it to produce a rich brew that reliably delivers THC to the bloodstream and liver. (Hence all those decadent brownies.)

reliably: McDonough even suggests using a method passed on to her by a food scientist that calls for spritzing decarbed bud with Everclear, an alcohol bottled at 190 proof, before infusing it into a fat, because the booze helps break down the plant cell walls, which “helps more THC escape into the solution and migrate out of the plant into the fat.”

Decarboxylated cannabis can (and has been) infused into a spectrum of household ingredients, from avocado oil to bacon fat, although some may be better conduits than others. In a trial where she infused and tested a number of vehicles, McDonough found that clarified butter and coconut oil produced especially potent solutions. Her hypothesis as to why? Saturated fats like butter and coconut oil are better able to absorb THC than monounsaturated fats like olive oil. “We’ll need to do more study,” she writes, “but in the meantime, all of you cannabis cooks at home can rest assured that using clarified butter or coconut oil for your cannabis infusions will result in a potent and cost-effective infusion.”

Old-fashioned “cannabutter” is a staple, but chefs have been experimenting with new methods over the years.

Seattle chef Ricky Flickenger got his start at a popular cupcake shop and now teaches home cooking classes—which included one on the science of cooking with cannabis, until shifting laws made him retire that particular session. A self-taught chef, Flickenger is used to figuring things out on his own and, like many cooks in the cannabis field, keeps up to date on scientific research. He’s partial to making his butters and oils with a product called kief, a powdery substance made from the glittery, hairlike trichomes that protrude from the cannabis plant. Kief is one of the many cannabis extracts that have found their way into dispensaries alongside traditional buds.

kief: Flickenger appreciates that kief is more potent than regular decarbed bud (making it a more economical ingredient), and also that it cuts down on prep time. “There’s no need to strain, like when you’re using fresh bud,” he says. “There’s no need for people to have it in a Crock-Pot for six hours or strain it through pantyhose to make sure every little bit gets out.”

Extracts, or concentrates, are exactly what they sound like—products with high levels of THC that are made from cannabis by a number of methods, from sifting buds to isolate cannabinoid-rich trichomes,to supercritical CO2 extraction, which uses carbon dioxide at very high pressures to pull cannabinoids from the plant. (This professional technique is a popular way to decaffeinate coffee.) There is a dizzying array of extracts available, as well as ways to consume them, from vaporizing to smoking them atop traditional bud. And some have found their way into the kitchen.

Chris Yang, a Los Angeles-based chef, brought his background in biochemistry to bear on his cannabis-infused dinners under the banner PopCultivate. Disillusioned with the business side of medicine, he dropped out of a graduate course in hospital management and found his way to cannabis chefery.

Yang extracts his own concentrates and then puts those in a rotary evaporator, or “rotavap,” a tool found in chemistry labs as well as molecular gastronomy kitchens. The rotavap uses vacuum to remove solvents from the concentrate, leaving Yang with a powder or resin that can be added to oil, butter, or glycerin.

“Which is amazing,” he says, “because then I can measure dosing by how many drops I’m putting in the food, not how many teaspoons of butter or tablespoons of butter. It’s very limiting if the proper dosing for food is you need two tablespoons of butter for one dose— it’s kind of hard to feed someone two tablespoons of butter.”

Yang prefers making his own extracts so he can personally tailor his product, isolating individual cannabinoids using a method called silica column separation. Then he can adjust the ratios of cannabinoids for a desired high.

A communal dessert table of assorted cookies along with homemade chocolate, strawberry, soy and almond milk, and ice creams, mousses and sauces for for dipping. The cookies and sauces are both infused with CBD, a cannabinoid that many believe reduces the effects of THC, which Sayegh say he uses to help “balance people out at the end of the night”. Photo by Henry Drayton courtesy of The Herbal Chef.

FROM BUTTER TO TERPENES

When Sayegh, aka The Herbal Chef, first started messing around with cannabis in the kitchen, he made butters like everyone else, and drew on his science education to track his results.

“I started to take notes and write stuff down and pay attention to how much bud I was putting in the butter, how long I was steeping it for, what temperature it was at, and then I just started to build upon my own trials,” he says.

But butter wasn’t where he wanted to stay. He wanted to make savory dishes, not batches of brownies. (“Brownie” has become a kind of catchall code word, spoken ruefully by chefs who want diners to think outside the limited vision of infused food.)

Now, Sayegh works with lab-produced extracts. Though they’re mostly fat-soluble, he says the lab he works with also produces a water-soluble version using a proprietary method. He’s tight-lipped about exactly how the water-soluble extract works, but says it “helps keep the integrity” of the THC “without burning it off,” and means he can infuse frozen meals that can withstand the oven and microwave—something he does especially for critically ill patients, in collaboration with a nutritionist.

Sayegh has experimented with infusing foods via tabletop vaporizers—machines that vaporize cannabis for inhalation. He traps the vapor in an oven bag with poultry or fish and then ties it off and pops it in the oven.

“It doesn’t get you high, but it infuses the terpene and the aromatics into the skin,” he says. “Which gives it this whole new complexity.”

He’s also used vaporizers to infuse beef tartare, similar to smoking it, and even conducts terpene wine pairings.

Yang has tried drying and dehydrating cannabis leaves and using them like dried basil or oregano. It didn’t quite work out. Unlike traditional herbs, Yang says the dried cannabis didn’t retain enough aromatics to make it a prominent flavor in the dish.

But all this invention is for naught if the food doesn’t taste right, and plenty of people are leery of the piney, grassy flavor associated with cannabis-enhanced food.

Many chefs have come up with ways to curtail the vegetal tang that so many find overwhelming. Yang says hot foods hide the flavor better than cold, as do foods with high sugar content, like juices. One popular cannabis gourmand, who goes by the moniker JeffThe420Chef, advocates soaking and blanching cannabis to rid it of things like chlorophyll, the green pigment vital for photosynthesis that is also responsible for a lot of the plant’s grassy taste. Sayegh says he has become accustomed to masking the flavor, bringing it into a balance with everything else in the dish so that diners won’t taste it unless he wants them to.

Meanwhile, some are embracing one particular set of compounds that give cannabis its multifaceted flavor: terpenes.

Terpenes are aroma and flavor compounds found in all kinds of plant foods, such as cinnamon, oregano, and lemons. Cannabis shares certain terpenes with mangoes, black pepper, and rosemary, and different strains of cannabis have different terpenes. It’s not unusual for cannabis sold in dispensaries to come with tasting notes, like a glass of wine, and a company in Amsterdam even has a detailed “flavor wheel” of available strains with flavors as specific as “Tabasco” and “bread fruit.” Sayegh and others believe terpenes, like cannabinoids, shape the high and have therapeutic benefits—from calming to euphoric—and will pick and choose strains based on that. Some studies have supported this direct connection between flavor and effect, but, as with many aspects of cannabis, research has been limited by the plant’s legal status.

A bubbling centerpiece diffuses pinene into the air, a terpene found in certain cannabis strains that has, as the name suggests, a piney aroma. Therapeutic qualities have been attributed to terpenes; pinene is used as an anti-inflammatory. Photo by Henry Drayton courtesy of The Herbal Chef.

Melissa Parks, a classically trained chef who once worked in research and development for General Mills, is now the executive chef of Las Vegas-based edibles company Vert. She once orchestrated a dinner where she paired tokes of cannabis with dishes that complemented their terpenes. She married a particularly earthy strain called Bio-Diesel (“It had smells of when you drive into a forest over dirt with pine needles”) with a cocoa- and coffee-crusted pork tenderloin in sour cherry beurre blanc.

“With the addition of these terpenes, whatever is lingering in that beautiful essence of plant matter that has hit your palate illuminates something in a dish you would have completely ignored or never seen,” she says. “It’s so fun!”

Of course, flavor and presentation are wasted if the diner leaves their meal having embarked on a trip they didn’t plan on taking.

“That is what is going to hold our entire industry back if we don’t do this right: the potency of edibles,” says Sayegh. “Everybody and their mother’s had a bad experience. Because it’s like, ‘Oh, this little cookie?’ And then they eat it, and they’re throwing their brains up.”

A plated dish of coconut cake, sweet potato, mango, coriander, infused with 2 milligrams THC. Photo by Henry Drayton courtesy of The Herbal Chef.

TOO HIGH

The effects and duration of cannabis differ depending on how you take it. When you smoke pot, it passes very quickly from the lungs to the bloodstream. There is a rapid spike in THC in the blood minutes after inhalation, which declines after about an hour. But when you eat or drink it, it passes through your stomach and intestines to the bloodstream before entering the liver, where it’s metabolized and then spit back out into the bloodstream. This all takes time, which means that when you eat THC, it can sometimes take more than two hours to feel the effect—one that can last longer than from smoking, as the THC is gradually absorbed over hours by the gut, liver, and so on. So, while the experience is different from person to person, it’s safe to say that when you eat cannabis, it will take longer to feel the effect and that that effect can last longer than when smoking it. The lag time can also lead to overindulging.

“When a person eats marijuana product they may not feel anything for a while,” says Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego. “And if they were doing it medicinally, they may say, ‘Well, maybe I didn’t have enough,’ and take some more, and then two hours later they’re very, very stoned.”

“It’s the bus that won’t let you get off,” says a filmmaker in San Francisco who preferred not to be named. He overmedicated on a batch of homemade cannabutter cookies and ended up desperately thirsty, hallucinating, and just way too high for about eight hours. He recalled the ordeal of waiting at a pedestrian crosswalk.

“It could have been 30 seconds, it could have been an eternity,” he says.

Such are the added challenges of cooking with (and partaking of) a psychoactive ingredient.

Chef Andrea Drummer, owner of Los Angeles-based cannabis catering company Elevation VIP, had her own version of that experience. The first drugged dish she ever ate was bruschetta prepared with infused olive oil, which she recalls with evident glee.

“Oh, it was so good,” she says. “So good. I kept eating them.”

Seven pieces was not a good idea, says the former nonprofit worker, laughing. She’s come a long way since then, and says the ability to calculate dosage through lab testing is one of the biggest changes in the industry. Prior to laboratory testing, attempting to determine the potency of an edible required guesswork, which could lead to unpredictable results.

“Understanding the levels of THC in the product” is essential, says Drummer: “making sure that translates into a great dining experience, that the guest doesn’t feel uncomfortable, or overwhelmed, or that they’re going to die.”

Drummer, like many cannabis chefs, works closely with a trusted supplier that tests its products for potency in labs. Once she creates a butter or an oil, she then has that product tested. Finally, diners are presented with menus that describe the dosage of each dish. She tries to keep four-course menus at “well under” 60 milligrams of THC, spread out over a leisurely meal so that diners can indulge. For comparison, “legal state” Colorado considers 10 milligrams to be a single dose. The effect of a single dose varies from person to person, and from smoking to eating.

“I would equate 10 milligrams to maybe a cocktail or a glass of wine,” says McDonough of High Times. For those with zero cannabis experience, McDonough suggests starting out with just five.

Blue cheese tarts, each with a custard base infused with 2 milligrams THC, ready to be served to guests at a networking dinner for cannabis professionals and investors with a menu by The Herbal Chef, Chris Sayegh. Photo by Henry Drayton, courtesy of The Herbal Chef.

For home cooks, figuring out dosing can still be tricky.

“It depends on if you’re in a state where you can legally access it, or if you’re in a prohibition state,” says McDonough. Most cookbooks and guides provide a way to evaluate the quality of your cannabis and give it a ballpark THC percentage, which will help the home cook calculate it. “It’s better than nothing, but it’s still not very precise,” she says.

In a legal state, home cooks have access not only to lab-tested fresh product but sometimes also to lab-tested butters and oils. Some who prefer to infuse at home rely on online potency calculators, of which there are several. Sites like Wikileaf catalog the potency of different strains, and home potency-testing tools are starting to hit the market.

Still, the fear of overmedicating makes many nervous. There are no recorded deaths from overdosing on cannabis, but the effects of taking too much can be very unpleasant.

Michael, an event planner in San Francisco, used a potent homemade cannabis-infused coconut oil to fry egg sandwiches for himself and his wife.

“Both of us ended up spending the entire day paranoid, in fetal positions on the couch, watching like eight episodes of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos,” he says. It took about a day and a half for the effects to wear off.

Corinne Tobias, a home cook who writes about cooking with cannabis on her blog Wake + Bake, described an experience in which she ate half of an infused grilled cheese sandwich and got “super crazy ridiculously messed up.” She wrote that she felt like she was “melting into the floor” and spent “half of her afternoon” asking for reassurance that she was not dying. “When I first started cooking with cannabis,” she writes, “I had no idea that it was going to be such a struggle to predict the perfect dosage. I’d make oil using the same method, but every time I harvested a different strain, my cannabis oil would be stronger or weaker and I had to spend a day or two as a human guinea pig, slowly testing my oil until I knew it was just right.” Now she is a fan of the tCheck, a $299 home potency tester.

Home cooks fear cannabis the same way they fear making a soufflé, says Parks, who coauthored a cookbook, Herb, in part to help acclimate home cooks to the ingredient. She recommends doing your homework; Parks took college chemistry classes and drew on the expertise of her physician father to supplement her culinary training.

For newbie home cooks, she advises going for quality over bargains.

“If you’re going to cook with a wine, you want to be able to drink it by the glass,” she says. “It’s the same type of thing—if you’re going to be cooking with a strain of cannabis, you want to smoke it and enjoy that flavor and enjoy that high.”

Parks also urges home cooks to rely on people in the know for information: “I guarantee someone in that dispensary has made an edible. Ask them what they’ve done. Don’t be afraid to ask more than one person; the more people the better.”

Finally, she says, start slow. Try low doses, wait several hours—or even a day—to gauge the effect, and once you feel comfortable, slowly increase your dose by low levels. But, she says, don’t be scared.

“Embrace it for what it is,” says Parks, who keeps cannabis in her kitchen. “It’s an herb.”

Chris Sayegh created this menu for one of his private dinners. He was hired by a group of diners who were longtime friends to create the meal, which he hoped would bring back “some amazing memories throughout their lives using food as the catalyst.” Photo by Henry Drayton, courtesy of The Herbal Chef.

THE NEXT BOOM

For chefs dealing with ever-shifting regulations and public attitudes, playing it safe is good business. That’s why there’s no one going Godzilla tonight on Sayegh’s gingerbread masterpiece.

In the kitchen, one medicated chocolate bar has been broken up into little pieces and placed in a bowl for people to dip into if they choose. It’s smooth and dark, with just a light grassy finish at the end—a far cry from Toklas’s herb-studded fig brownies.

Sayegh knows that THC in the kitchen has an image problem outside of the cannabis world. People dismiss it as a gimmick, something just for mega-stoners, or an opportunity to rip people off. Even Sayegh’s family balked at his career path. They weren’t thrilled when he dropped out of college. They were double un-thrilled when he remade himself as an infused-food gourmand. His mom booted him from the house and told him to stay away from his little brother. But even they’ve come around.

“My parents were a great introduction to the rest of the world, basically,” says Sayegh, who hopes that finely prepared food combined with the capacity to discuss the molecular structure of cannabis will help strip away the stigma of a plant still federally classified alongside heroin as a Schedule I drug. Far from a scourge, Sayegh and others see immense medical and economic potential in the herb.

Tonight, no one needs convincing. The people at this party, for the most part, are members of a younger generation that has embraced cannabis socially, medically, and in the kitchen.

When it comes time to unveil the gingerbread village, they crowd around, smiling and laughing, and whip out their cell phones to snap pictures—another delicious food photo for the Internet.

“It’s going to be the next tech boom,” says Sayegh. “It’s the opportunity of our lifetime.”

Copyright 2017. Reprinted from Cook's Science with permission by America's Test Kitchen

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15 Best THC Edibles of 2021: Tastiest & Most Potent

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Some of us eat when we’re happy, others eat when we’re sad. Many of us eat only when we’re hungry, some of us eat all the time. No matter your eating habits, we’ve all gotten to know our comfort foods during the early 2020s.

We might be slurping up pasta, chomping on cheesy chowder, or mowing through mounds of moose tracks ice cream. Our favorite comfort food of 2021, however, is anything infused with THC. To celebrate a successful year of edibles coming to market, we’re highlighting the 15 best THC edibles of 2021 by emphasizing the tastiest and most potent products on the market.

A Quick List of the 15 Best THC Edibles of 2021: Tastiest & Most Potent

Everest’s Delta 8 THC Gummies – The best hemp makes the best gummies with a delicious Delta 8 twist.

Planet Delta Gummies – Delta 8 gummies in out of this world flavors.

Keef’s Orange Kush Soda – Pop it open, let the THC bubbles bounce through your nostrils, then down your carbonated dose of orange soda infused with THC.

Kiva’s Mint Chocolate Bar – Kiva does it again with their irresistible mint chocolate bar. Good luck finding this before it sells out to dedicated fans.

Big Pete’s Lemon Mini Cookies – Long-time favorites for long-time edible THC consumers.

Pop-up Potcorn Jalapeno Cheddar – Pick your spicy THC popcorn, 10 mg or 100 mg?

1906’s Bliss Peanut Butter Cups – Dark chocolate and organic peanut butter, that’s all we need to know.

Kikoko’s Positivi-Tea – A 10 mg dose of THC, a minty pick-me-up that leaves one looking forward to the day.

3Chi’s Fruity Pieces Treat – A classic, fruity, crunchy, melty treat with 50 mg of Delta 8 THC goodness.

Midnight Bar’s Chocolate Banana Bar – 200 mg of THC in the experience of a banana wrapped in warm chocolate.

KushyPunch’s Private Reserve Strawberry Gummy – Some call it “the dab of edibles”. Others just fall asleep after satisfying their taste buds.

Coda Signature’s Coffee and Doughnuts Chocolate Bar – Cinnamon, sugar, milk chocolate, and coffee, blended with pure THC.

HOPE’s Cannabrew Cold Brew Coffee – Over 100 mg of THC to wake you up without coughing up a lung or burning your tongue.

Moon’s Cinnamon Mints – The spicy flavor reminds us of the hot candies we got during trick-or-treating as kids, the dose of THC reminds us we’re still adults.

Cali Flwr Farms Chili Mango Gummies – For just $10, you get spicy and fruity gummies loaded with 100 mg of THC.

How will we decide on the 15 best THC edibles of 2021?

When we’re devouring all there is to see on the marketplace, we’ll have a difficult time fitting everything we want onto one plate. We’ll have to leave out plenty of tasty and potent THC edibles to nibble down our list to just 15 products. That being said, we’ll use some of the following criteria to make our choices:

Flavor and potency above all.

If it doesn’t make mouths water, we don’t want it near ours. If it isn’t strong, we aren’t interested. We’re looking for the most delicious, most powerful edible THC products of 2021. Of course, this won’t be our only criteria, but if our taste buds and homeostatic needs aren’t satiated with one or two doses, then you won’t see that edible on our list.

When we’re thinking about how our THC edibles are made, we’re not just thinking about their time spent in the oven. We’re concerned with:

The source hemp’s cultivation from seed to harvest

How the product is processed post-harvest, including the extraction method

The manufacturing process all the way through the full-panel lab testing

That’s not the end of it, though. If we see packaging that’s environmentally friendly or particularly appealing, we’ll give bonus points for an improved delivery method.

How much it costs.

We suspect that searching for the tastiest and most potent products will lead us to the most expensive THC edibles on the market, as well. However, we don’t want our top 15 best THC edibles list to also be a list of the priciest cannabis snacks. So, we’ll also look for edibles that offer superb flavor and customer satisfaction at a lower price, even if they have to skimp on ingredients.

The baker’s creativity.

Brownies and cookies have dominated the THC edible realm since Mary Jane Rathbun was delivering them to patients in San Francisco General Hospital many decades ago. Since then, the idea has expanded well beyond what anyone could have imagined. These days, anything edible can be infused with THC using isolates or oils, for example.

However, we’re looking for ready-to-go products that come out of the oven with their own style, creativity, or flair. If we see a creative item that no one else is yet recreating, we applaud such uniqueness.

How We Decided the 15 Best THC Edibles of 2021: Tastiest & Most Potent

Flavor and Potency

What’s more important: flavor or potency? We’re asking you not to decide. We say you should get both. We want a potent product that’s also incredibly delicious. We know, it can be easy to overwhelm any edible THC product with the taste of earthy hemp. However, there are ways to prevent the smell and flavor of THC edibles from tasting like bitter, clumpy grass. That’s why we’re expecting the best when it comes to combining flavor and potency.

The best ingredients are what we’re looking for. We love organic, vegan, non-GMO or otherwise healthy cannabis edibles. However, with our overall strategy of finding the tastiest and most potent, we’ll simply give bonus points to companies that manage to reach our standards while using premium ingredients, even if it may cost a little more.

Of course, when creating THC edibles, using the best ingredients also means using the best cannabis possible.

Source of Cannabis

Many cannabis-derived products, and even the source itself, can be shipped internationally. That means not all THC edibles are made the same because their source material isn’t all grown the same. Even more differences arise when you consider the farmer, processor, and manufacturer getting involved. From seed to shelf, many consumers want to know exactly what they’re getting. If we see a company that tracks this information and shows consistent quality, we like the taste of their edibles even more. Moreover, when a company uses better source material, the final product often has a cleaner, better cannabinoid profile.

Type of Extraction

When the cannabinoids are drawn out of flower, some companies will use extraction processes that leave behind some residual components, such as hydrocarbons. That’s because they’re extracted with things like butane or propane. While many extractors know how to properly flush their products of any harmful compounds, we always appreciate companies that are extracting cannabinoids with cleaner, more advanced methods. We prefer extraction methods such as:

Supercritical CO2 extraction

Extractions like these create larger costs for businesses, which may result in higher prices at the counter. That’s why we won’t exclude companies for not using one of these methods, so long as they’re able to deliver quality, tasty, potent products on a consistent basis.

Lab Testing and Results

Labs for testing cannabis products are ubiquitous. There is no reason for a product to not be thoroughly tested on a regular basis. With the availability of testing facilities, we also like to see businesses use facilities that test for more than just cannabinoids. We want to see the results for:

Anything a lab can tell us, we want to know. What we can’t see on the lab results, we expect to find on the nutrition label. If we didn’t have such a sweet tooth, we’d never bite into any of these products without knowing precisely what they’re made of.

Can we pay with Bitcoin when it’s crashing? How about when it’s swinging for the moon? We don’t require that we can pay in crypto, but we do appreciate companies that let us pay in a multitude of ways. We like when we’re allowed to use Paypal or our credit cards. One company offered us an interest-free payment plan and we found that intriguing. The more ways we can pay for our THC edibles, the better.

One more note: Keep in mind that hemp-derived Delta 8 products are not yet legally available in every U.S. state, so check your state laws before attempting to purchase.

Our 15 Best THC Edibles of 2021: Tastiest & Most Potent

1. Everest’s Delta 8 THC Gummies

Not only are Everest’s Delta 8 THC Gummies super potent and legitimately delicious, the hemp they use is sustainably sourced, organically grown, and made right here in the USA. At 20 mg per serving, these are the strongest gummies on the list. With 30 gorgeous blue raspberry squares in each exquisite package, Everest’s gummies not only pleased us enough to make number one on our list, but we have a few gummies left over for later, as well. We also love the fact that they use a federally legal version of THC.

2. Planet Delta

Sure, these are some of the least potent products on our list, but they’re also some of the tastiest. These funky flavored delta 8 gummies deliver a flavor not found elsewhere.

3. Keef’s Orange Kush Soda

With a pop and a fizzle, you’ve found one of the tastiest THC edibles on the market today. But this edible is actually drinkable. Keef’s Orange Kush soda tastes just like your favorite orange soda pop but with something extra special. In fact, some locations allow these cans to be infused with up to 100 mgs of THC. This makes them one of the most potent products on our list. In many recreational locations, the size is limited to just 10 mg per can. But that just means you get the honor of buying more cans of one of the top 15 tastiest and most potent THC edibles of 2021.

4. Kiva’s Mint Chocolate Bar

It was difficult to narrow it down to just one chocolate bar. So we didn’t. We’ll include three. It’s a staple of any THC company that sells edibles. However, when it comes to efficacy and flavor, Kiva’s Mint Chocolate Bar takes home the gold. Its flavor is a crowd-pleaser, its activation time is rapid, and it lasts. These mint chocolate bars are better than any Girl Scout cookie you’ve ever eaten, and the dose is enough to deliver exactly the relief you need.

5. Big Pete’s Lemon Mini Cookies

Big Pete’s has been making their yummy cookies since 2009. As long as they’ve been making them, customers have been raving about them. We love Big Pete’s Lemon Mini Cookies for a variety of reasons. It’s a mood-elevating Sativa line of edible THC that goes great in the morning with tea.

6. Pop-Up Potcorn Jalapeno Cheddar

Towering at 100 mg, the largest bag of Pop-Up Potcorn that you can buy comes in an outstanding flavor that’s to die for: jalapeno cheddar. This spicy and crunchy treat is just what you need for movie night or a midday snack. We also love their website, though it has nothing to do with taste or potency. You can almost smell the popcorn through the web browser.

7. 1906’s Bliss Peanut Butter Cups

When we heard someone was covering organic peanut butter with dark chocolate, our ears perked up. When we found out it was 1906 bringing us Bliss, their tastiest THC treat on offer, we got excited. When we dove in and enjoyed 1906’s Bliss Peanut Butter Cups, we knew they belonged on this list. Granted, this isn’t the most potent product on our list. It’s even blended with CBD, as well. But since they’re so tasty, we ate a couple of them to reach the experience we desired.

8. Kikoko’s Positivi-Tea

This minty pick-me-up is intended to help you start the day off right. Elevating mood and increasing joy is the goal of this tea bag and it all starts with how it smells. Hints of peppermint, spearmint, and lemon wake up the senses as energy is massaged into them with the scents of licorice root, organic cane sugar, and green tea. At just 10 mg of THC, it’s not the strongest, but one of the best tasting teas we’ve ever come across.

9. 3Chi’s Fruity Pieces Treat

Remember having marshmallow and crispy rice treats as a child? Don’t you wish you could have those again, but better? With 3Chi’s Fruity Pieces Treat, that wish can come true. These 50 mg bars pack a serious punch, and for less than $8, they’re an absolute steal. You may find yourself having to eat this THC edible in bites rather than by the bar. While you can go classic on this old favorite and select their plain crispy rice product, we prefer the fruity version.

10. Midnight Bar’s Chocolate Banana Bar

One of the tastiest and most potent products on the market: this chocolate banana bar gave Kiva’s Mint Chocolate bar a run for its money. The creamy milk chocolate blends perfectly with the smooth banana flavor. Moreover, it’s so strong that even the most tolerant THC consumer would react to this edible.

11. KushyPunch’s Private Reserve Strawberry Gummy

The “dab of edibles” is how many people refer to this edible. But KushyPunch’s Private Reserve Strawberry Gummy is also a taste explosion. While the purest and most potent THC is the true kicker of this edible, we could gnaw on these from morning to night.

12. Coda Signature’s Coffee and Doughnuts Chocolate Bar

Literally, all the best tastes on Earth combined into an edible THC chocolate bar: milk chocolate, cinnamon sugar, robust coffee. Though this bar is only half as strong as the previous chocolate banana bar, its superb flavor keeps it floating above the competition.

13. HOPE’s Cannabrew Cold Brew Coffee

If you like to wake up and immediately start consuming, we’ve found the tastiest, most potent way to do it. Many consumers will grab their pipe or joint so they can cough themselves full of energy. We prefer to grab one of HOPE’s Cannabrew Cold Brew Coffees. We never burn our mouths or lungs when we choose this style of wake-and-bake.

14. Moon’s Cinnamon Mints

Sometimes, when trick-or-treating as a child, you’d get a candy that you didn’t know what it was. It didn’t take long to learn that the little red ones would set your mouth on fire with spicy flavor. Moon’s Cinnamon Mints take us back to that time, without the mouth scorching scream of pain, and with an addition of THC. Each piece lacks potency on its own, however, the good thing about a low-dose product like this is that you can always take more.

15. Cali Flwr Farms Chili Mango Gummies

These fruity and spicy gummies are the best deal on our top 15 list of THC edibles of 2021. They’re only $10 for a bag of gummies that add up to 100 mg of THC. The chili brings a flavorful spice while the juicy mango flavor balances it all out and has us begging for more.

How Do They Make THC Edibles?

Do you know how they say there’s more than one way to make a THC edible? Well, if they don’t say that, they should. There’s a wide range of ways to make THC edibles. So, how are businesses making THC edibles today?

Any THC edible begins with the extraction of cannabinoids from the plant material itself. This could be done in the home quite simply by soaking decarboxylated cannabis flowers in olive oil. In fact, this has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to remove cannabinoids from plant material. The compounds are easily drawn into the lipid-heavy environment where they can be dribbled over a salad or used in any olive oil recipe, for example.

However, this method of extraction has been rendered obsolete by other methods that release the cannabinoids into a medium with a higher burning temperature. With olive oil’s low boiling temperature, heating it until vaporization results in the destruction of the cannabinoids before their benefits can be released to the consumer.

Thankfully, cannabis scientists have found plenty of ways to extract cannabinoids into edible goods. Some of them, like isolate powders and distillates, have no flavor at all. Some are even made to be water-soluble, so you can easily put them in any drink.

With this technology, it’s easy for any THC edible chef to make an assortment of infused foods.

How is Eating THC Different Than Smoking or Vaping?

You might think that eating a THC product would be no different than smoking it. You may assume that the feeling and effects are quite similar. In many ways, you’d be correct since you’re metabolizing cannabinoids in both instances. However, the method of metabolization changes dramatically when you eat it. As a result, the activation time, length of effects onset, and general feeling are all quite different than smoking or vaping THC products.

When smoking or vaping THC, the product immediately passes into the bloodstream where it’s circulated throughout the body. It binds with the CB1 receptors on our endocannabinoid system (ECS). However, when cannabinoids enter the stomach, they go through a two-stage metabolization process. From the gut, it’s sent to the liver via the portal vein. There, it’s rearranged into 11-OH-THC. According to research published in 2016, 11-OH-THC is “more potent than Delta 9 THC” and “readily crosses the blood-brain barrier”. Perhaps even more importantly, the research showed that 11-OH-THC appears in the blood in higher quantities as compared to when cannabis is smoked or vaped.

In layman’s terms, the key differences between the two versions is that 11-OH-THC: