It feels a little bit like cannabis sacrilege, but when it comes to edibles, I’m kind of a gummy hater. What’s bizarre about it is that I'm generally a big fan of gummy candies - worms and bears in particular - and, as you may have surmised, a big fan of cannabis. You may also remember that my mom is a bit of an edibles pro, snagging a billboard with her signature caramel popcorn on it in Arizona’s early dispensary days, so it’s fair to say that when edibles were involved, I was a little bit spoiled. I often think about the days of my mom’s recipe testing, when my roommates and I would happily volunteer as human garbage disposals, housing entire trays of black forest brownies in an afternoon.
Despite my griping about too many gummies, the industry has come a long way from brownies and gummies as a staple, with sodas, hard candies and savory snacks on the menu in some legal markets now. Don’t get me wrong, I would absolutely inhale - pun intended - a bag of infused cheese puffs, but it’s not that easy for me to get my hands on these treats in good ol Texas. Not only are these kinds of edibles not available to me legally, I don’t really have the spare cash to be dropping it on a $46 box of turkish delights - which in my opinion are kind of just fancy gummies, right?
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I am lazy. Could I make my own cannabutter? Yeah, probably. Have I done it in the last ten years? Absolutely not, no. Now, a big part of that probably goes back to me being treated by my mother to homemade edibles that were usually made with medical grade cannabis, and consistency of quality isn’t really a strong suit in the cannabis I manage to get my hands on. For me, part of the edible creation experience is having a modicum of control over the flavor profiles, dosage and desired effects from the cannabis you’re using, and then throwing that all out the window when you eat half a dozen cookies standing alone in your kitchen. How am I supposed to control how long I pass out on the couch for if I’m never quite sure what I’m getting?
My laziness aside, eating is easily in my top five favorite things to do, and despite my self depreciation, I do cook and I actually enjoy it most of the time. There’s just something about the infusion process that is a little tedious for me, so it feels like a special occasion when I’ve had the energy to bust out a batch in the past. All of that being said, there is a future that I envision in which I have infused butter and oils at my disposal at all times, and I would like to share with you the versatility of canna-snacking, as well as some tips, tricks, pros and cons of at home edibles.
Pros & Cons: Making Homemade Edibles
Just like everything else, there are pros and cons to making your own edibles. We’ll begin with the only con, in my opinion: actually doing it. Thank the tech gods for modernity, though, because now there are plenty of ways around this. If you’re like me and all you want to do is dump all of the components into a machine and wait for a few hours, boy are you in luck, because the market is brimming with cannabis infusers. Long gone are my mother’s days of oven decarbing and stove top infusions, now there are machines that will do all of that and then bake for you. From a $40 Haavitek stovetop infuser that looks suspiciously like what I use to make my coffee every day, to the $499 Levo Lux that will dry, decarb and infuse for you, there’s an infuser at almost every imaginable price point with almost as wide a variety of functionality. To be fair, there is absolutely nothing wrong with decarbing your flower in the oven and making your infusions on the stove, but I’d let a machine do it for me if I could afford it.
Now that the singular con is out of the way, let’s talk about the pros. I don’t know about you, but if there's a flower around, I’m going to smoke it, so turning current favorites into infused butter or oil can often make them last way longer for me. Not to mention the fact that an edible can often change or amplify the effects of a particular strain. Making your own edibles also gives you the ability to control the dosage or mix and max strains to achieve your desired effect.
What I want to highlight, however, is the versatility of canna-snacking. Just think of all of the things you already put butter or oil in! Popcorn? Cannabutter. Salad? Infused olive oil. Easy topical? Infused coconut oil. Ok, that last one isn’t a snack but the possibilities are pretty much endless. When I was living at home - as an adult legally allowed to consume cannabis - we would keep a separate butter dish for cannabutter that went into sauteed veggies and topped french toast. A few of my mom’s canna-infused creations that still stand out for me are homemade caramels, sandwich crackers, and classic chocolate chunk cookies.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re cooking with cannabis is that THC, CBD and the other compounds you definitely want to stick around start to degrade at temperatures above 340 degrees fahrenheit. Try to keep your cooking temps below 350 to avoid lowering the expected potency of your culinary creation.
If You’re Cheap Like Me
As I mentioned earlier, I am cheap. I am also a tiny bit disconnected from the world outside of my little bubble and don’t often spend money other than on bills and necessities, so I’m usually surprised about how much things cost now. I often find myself exclaiming “that totally normal pair of thrift store pants cost how much?!” at shopping videos and fight off unreasonable amounts of anxiety when I spend money on pretty much anything that seems “superfluous” to me. That being said, I don’t have any wiggle room in my budget right now for “weed that is only for making edibles”.
What I do have, though, is a myriad of empty jars that are perfect for storing stems from the regular cannabis that I would normally buy. Usually what happens with these stems is that they get picked clean of any remaining flower when I’ve run out of regular flower and they never see a cooking pot, but that shouldn’t stop you! Pretty much anything you can do with whole flower, you can do with your stems. It may take longer to build up a big enough stash to infuse butter or oil, but if you’re anything like me, you might already have a nice little stash built up.
Not only can you turn those stems into infused cooking ingredients, you can also skip all of the cooking entirely and go straight to tea: the simplest infusion. Boiling your stems with about a tablespoon of coconut oil (the cannabinoids need the oil to bind to) will make a probably not very tasty but effective cannabis tea. I would recommend this as an addition to a tea you already actually like, unless you are super into tea that tastes like sticks.
As an avid eater, subsequently adequate cook and enthusiastic cannabis consumer, I am advocating for more infused meals and foods for no reason at all. It is entirely possible that I’m completely out of touch with the segment of our society that has fully embraced infused meals at home, but my exposure to the infused food scene has mostly been fancy cannabis restaurants or dinner parties with private weed chefs. Don’t get me wrong, I’d accept an invitation to one of these restaurants or parties without hesitation, but I also think more people, including myself, should toss their pasta in some infused olive oil with a little cracked black pepper and parmesan and eat it straight out of the pan at two in the morning. Bake some infused muffins and put some butter on them, if you’re feeling frisky. Hell, you can even make cannabis salt with an alcohol based tincture and, you guessed it, salt. After combining the tincture and salt, the alcohol will evaporate off leaving behind the infused salt, perfect for all kinds of savory applications.
At the very least, if you are a person that already cooks for your cannabis consuming self or other consenting adults, I hope I’ve inspired you to maybe medicate that casserole next time. I bet your family will thank you.