Edible Infusion Methods - All the Ways to Get Weed in Your Food
Making Marijuana Edibles - The Basics
Cannabis and its derivative products are extremely versatile, and almost any type of cannabis product can be used to create at-home edibles with just a little bit of know-how. Whether you’ve got RSO, Butane Hash Oil (BHO), CO2 Extract, Tinctures, Hash, or good old fashioned cannabis flower, a few simple steps can lead you to quality marijuana edibles in no time.
In this article, we’ll cover how to infuse the various types of cannabis products into food, including temperature, time, and cooking recommendations, as well as guidance on the best types of foods to infuse with each of the cannabis products types you might have on hand, so that you get the best edible experience possible regardless of your starting materials.
Before we get into specific guidance for the various cannabis infusion methods, let’s cover some basic vocabulary that we’ll be using as we discuss edible creation. There are 3 basic steps that almost all edible infusion methods have in common:
Decarboxylation, or “Decarbing” - this is the single most important step in edibles creation! We cannot create effective edibles with raw, inactive cannabis products or plant material, as the form of THC found in these products (THCA) is non-psychoactive. Therefore, we must first convert the THCA into psychoactive Delta-9-THC (what you’re referring to when you just say “THC”) through the process of decarboxylation - this simple process involves heating your cannabis material at low temperature for an extended period of time to degrade as much of the THCA into active THC as possible. Time and temperature are of paramount importance during decarbing - too high of a temperature or too long of a decarb, and you risk boiling off your activated THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes, or burning your starting material. We’ll cover the decarbing process required for each type of cannabis product in the dedicated sections below, as the method will vary slightly, and in the case of pre-activated cannabis products like Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) or Tinctures, no further decarbing will is necessary during edible creation, and it can actually destroy your desired compounds.
Infusion - Infusion, as it applies to edibles, is the process by which your activated cannabis compounds get into your final edible - this is accomplished either by adding the activated cannabis material to your near-final ingredient mix, or more commonly, steeping the cannabis material in a fat source that will be used in the recipe, such as butter or coconut oil, prior to cooking your actual edible. All of the desired compounds in cannabis, including THC, CBD, minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and others, are very fat soluble, making this infusion method ideal for creating a cannabis delivery vehicle that your body can use and metabolize more easily. The cooking oil is then used as a regular non-infused fat would be in any recipe of your choice, infusing your edible with activated cannabinoids and terpenes.
Straining - This step will not be required in edible infusions where you’re adding the activated cannabis material to a near-final recipe, but it will be extremely important when infusing a cooking oil like butter or coconut oil. Straining removes the bulk plant matter and any other undesired remnants of cannabis product, minimizing earthy cannabis flavor and green color in your infused oil. One of the most common complaints about edibles is the strong cannabis flavor, and thorough straining is the best way to help prevent that.
Now that you understand the basic steps of creating a cannabis-infused food product, let’s get into the details of how to use each of the most common cannabis products to create your at-home edibles!
Infusing with Flower - How to Make Edibles with Shake, Kief, or Buds
How to Make Edibles with Shake or Kief
So let’s say you’ve got some small cannabis particles left over after you’ve smoked your premium buds, you found a killer deal on shake at your local dispensary, or you’ve been collecting your kief from your grinders and have a good amount built up. Well you’re in luck - these are exactly the type of cannabis flower by-products that are ideal for creating edibles!
The infused fat source you’ll create with these cannabis materials will be very versatile, and can be used in almost any recipe that calls for that fat. If you infuse butter, you can spread it on your toast, make cookies or other baked goods by cutting your recipe’s butter with some of your infused butter, baste cooked meats in it - the possibilities are nearly endless! Vegan cannabis enthusiasts can substitute infused coconut or olive oil into their favorite sweet or savory plant-based recipes as well, creating earth conscious treats like cannabis hummus or coconut caramels! Experiment with your favorite recipes and let us know what you come up with :)
Here are the basic steps to follow to create your shake or kief-infused cooking oil for use in edibles:
Decarb your cannabis - Whether you’ve got course shake or fine kief, you’ll want to decarb the material before infusing it to activate your compounds.
- For shake: Pre-heat your oven to 240 degrees F. On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spread your material out in a single layer. Bake the cannabis for 45-60 minutes and cool. The amount you’ll need for a recipe will vary widely based on the potency you desire in your edibles - there are some good THC potency calculators online that can help you estimate your final potency based on starting cannabis volume and amount of oil infused, but keep in mind that these are only estimates, and you’ll need to be cautious when portioning and sampling your edibles to avoid accidental THC overconsumption incidents.
*If you or a friend do find yourself experiencing paranoia, anxiety, nausea, or other negative side-effects after ingesting cannabis edibles, it is likely a THC overconsumption, and there are several tactics for mitigating those unwanted effects, which we covered in our recent blog post.
- For kief: Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees F. Place your kief in an oven-safe, covered container, and cook for 7-10 minutes maximum - kief decarbs much faster than whole-plant cannabis, so you don’t want to leave this one unattended! Keep in mind that kief is also much stronger in THC percentage that cannabis flower, usually in the 40-60% THC range compared to shake’s 12-25%, so adjust your starting amount accordingly to avoid overly-strong infusions, or cut your final oil with a non-infused version to stretch your infused cooking oil.
Infuse your activated cannabis into your cooking oil, or final recipe - starting with a melted and warmed cooking oil of your choice, in the volume indicated by your THC calculations or your recipe needs, add your cannabis material and simmering for between 3-8 hours on low heat, ideally between 160-170 degrees F but never exceeding 200 degrees F, depending on your desired potency, for shake infusions. You may also add an equal amount of water to your melted oil to help “wash” your infusion of plant matter and control the heating temperature. In the case of kief infusions, stir until your kief is fully dissolved into your cooking oil, then remove from heat immediately. Kief infusions do not require straining, but in the case of shake infusions, proceed to step 3 once your infused oil has cooled slightly. Your kief infusion can go straight into your final recipe mix - avoid cooking infused recipes above 340-350 degrees F maximum to avoid boiling off the activated compounds! If your edibles don’t provide a euphoric high experience and instead make you sleepy and groggy, it’s likely that the active compounds have degraded towards CBN, a minor cannabinoid with minimal psychoactive effects that typically induces strong sedation with foggy mental effects.
Multi-stage straining will be necessary to fully remove the plant matter and mitigate earthy taste and color in your final infused oil. Using a fruit press or layers of cheese cloth with heat-resistant gloves, strain your infused oil and press to remove bulk plant matter. Allow your collected liquid to strain into a clean container and seal to settle overnight. Once the cooking oil has formed a separate layer from the remaining water in your strained collection, remove the oil layer and waste the water. Re-melt the solidified oil at the lowest temperature possible until fully re-melted, and strain through fine cheese cloth once again to purify. The collected liquid will re-solidify once again into your final infused canna-butter or canna-oil!
How to Make Edibles with Cannabis Flower Buds
While you will typically want to reserve your highest-quality cannabis buds for smoking or vaporizing, you can certainly use the buds you have on hand to make edibles if you so choose. The process for creating edibles with buds is practically identical to the shake infusion process outlined above, but you’ll want to grind up your buds into a coarse consistency, similar to table salt, prior to decarbing. While some folks recommend as fine of a grind as possible, you probably do not want or need a super-fine grind - too much grinding will release a higher amount of plant material like chlorophyll, resulting in more grassy taste and dark green color in your infused oil, as well as plant material that is harder to strain out due to its small size, which you will not want.
Another cannabis infusion method option that you have with dry, well-cured cannabis flower is creating cooking flour from dry, decarbed cannabis. To do this, coarsely grind and decarb your starting cannabis at 240 degrees F for 45-55 minutes. Allow the cannabis to cool before adding to a food processor and pulverizing into a fine powder resembling the consistency of standard flour (the only case in which you do want a fine-ground cannabis for cooking). Store your cannabis flour in a well-marked and light-resistant container, in a cool and dry place away from sunlight. It will keep for several months for use in many recipes over time.
To use your final cannabis flour in recipes, simply replace up to 1/4th of the normal flour in your recipe with your cannabis flour. Be sure to sift the two flours together completely before adding to your recipe - sifting is incredibly important to ensuring even dosing in your final edibles, so mix it all up really well before using in your recipe!
Infusing with Extracts - How to Make Edibles with Concentrates of all Kinds
Cannabis extracts as an increasingly popular segment of the cannabis industry, and they can be produced through a wide array of processes using different combinations of solvents, heat, and pressure. No matter how they are produced, the final marijuana extracts with their high cannabinoid and terpenes profiles can be a great choice for infusing edibles at-home!
In fact, with the recent news around illnesses and possible deaths linked to vaping illicit cannabis products, it may be a good idea to minimize the amount of cannabis products you vaporize. While early reports suggests that the non-cannabis additives in vape cartridges are the likely culprit, some research has also indicated that super-heated terpenes, like those produced during high-temp dabbing, may become carcinogenic compounds like benzene and methacrolein - so using your extracts in edibles can be an ideal way to get the benefits of their active compounds without exposing yourself to possible negative side effects of inhaling them through vaporizing or dabbing.
How to Make Edibles with Common Extracts - CO2 Oil and BHO
The two most popular forms of solvent-assisted cannabis extraction on the legal market are BHO (Butane Hash Oil) and CO2 extraction. These products can also make great edibles - they can create more concentrated edibles with less cannabis product used, they generally have less cannabis flavor than whole-plant infusions, and they require much less time and effort than the infuse-and-strain steps of flower infusion. The downside is that they generally lack the full-spectrum of cannabis compounds you can get from whole-plant infusions, so they may not have as well-rounded of an experience or as much medical efficacy, but they definitely have their time and place for cannabis enjoyment!
In general, CO2 oil is preferred for edible creation due to the potential for residual butane taste in BHO, but if you have a well-processed BHO without any hints of butane, you can certainly use it in a pinch. It’s important to note that these cannabis extracts contain inactive THCA rather than activated Delta-9 THC, so you will still need to decarb them prior to infusion, and the decarb process differs from decarbing flower quite a bit.
When creating edibles with BHO or CO2 oil, follow these infusion steps:
Decarb your extract first - Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees F. Spread your BHO or CO2 oil on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper with plenty of extra room for spreading and bubbling, and place in an oven safe bowl. Heat your oil for about 20min, until bubbling mostly subsides, then cool completely. The decarbed oil will be very sticky and hard to handle, so place it in the freezer to harden, about 10 minutes or so, to help peel the oil off the sheet for addition to your cooking oil or directly into your final recipe. No straining is required for extract infusions, so these are the ideal product to use for edible infusions that lack a cooking fat like butter or oil. However, you will want to stir your ingredients very thoroughly after adding your cannabis oil to ensure even dosing in your batch.
Infuse into cooking oil - As with the flower infusions, heat a cooking oil of your choice in about a 1:1 ratio (depending on your potency preference) to create a concentrated infused oil. Over gentle heat, lightly melt the decarbed extract into your cooking oil until just dissolved, taking care not to boil or cook the oil once your extract is added. Stir thoroughly to evenly distribute the active compounds throughout your oil. To use in recipes, cut the amount of oil called for in the recipe with the appropriate amount of infused oil for the desired potency, using the THC calculator above as a guide.
How to Make Edibles with Rosin or Hash
Rosin and Hash are two other popular marijuana extract that are preferred by some due to their production processes being free of harsh chemical solvents . This means there is no chance of residual compounds like butane in the final product, since rosin and hash are produced only through the application of heat and pressure in the case of rosin, or water and screens in the case of hash. If you’ve ever seen or tried a cannabis extract that was made at home using parchment paper and a hair straightener, you’ve witnessed the process for creating simple rosin. For ice water hash production, the cannabis is passed through screening bags with progressively smaller holes in the presence of ice water, helping to concentrate and purify the active compounds and resulting in a potent and earthy final product that can be ingested many ways. However, hash will impart more of its strong flavor to an edible than rosin or CO2 oil will, so use in dishes accordingly and try it in dishes that already have strong flavors to mask the earthiness.
Infusing edibles with rosin or hash is very similar to the BHO and CO2 oil process outlined above - the only difference comes during decarboxylation, where you’ll set your oven to about 220-240 degrees F and heat your covered rosin or hash on parchment paper for about 20-30 minutes, until bubbling subsides. Decarbing takes longer due to the lower purity of rosin and hash compounds compared to chemical solvent-extracted products, but the end result will look very similar. You’ll then infuse the decarbed product into a heated oil as directed above before adding to your final recipe, or add it directly into your final recipe if no oil is required.
How to Make Edibles with RSO (Rick Simpson Oil)
One of the most well-known medicinal cannabis products is Rick Simpson Oil, often abbreviated to RSO. This very dark, thick, pungently flavored oil is often sold in syringes for topical application or sublingual absorption by placing under the tongue, and its use has been reported to have powerful effects on cancer cells. The extra-high levels of cannabinoids and terpenes also give RSO strong anti-inflammatory effects. As such, infusing edibles with RSO may be the best option if you’re looking to create medical-grade edibles for use in supporting wellness or to assist in managing acute symptoms of illness.
Creating edibles with RSO is also quite easy, as the active compounds in RSO are fully activated, and do not require any further decarboxylation processing. In fact, it’s best not to apply any additional heat to RSO to avoid destroying all the beneficial compounds contained therein. The best uses for RSO in edibles are as additions to finished sauces, toppings, or in no-heat recipes when possible.
It should also be noted that similar to hash, RSO has a very strong, earthy, somewhat unpleasant flavor, so you’ll want to choose heavily flavored dishes with savory or umami notes to disguise the earthy flavor of the RSO - think mushroom dishes, hearty pasta sauces, balsamic salad dressings, garlic or spicy hummus, dark chocolate bars or desserts, or the like. To infuse a finishing cooking oil or other compliment with RSO, gently heat the infusion base until just warm enough to dissolve your preferred dose of RSO into it, mixing thoroughly to combine. You can then use the oil in low-heat recipes or as a topping.
How to Make Edibles with Tinctures
Tinctures, like RSO, are another ready-to-consume cannabis product that has already had its THCA content converted to active THC. Tinctures are best used in edibles for candy making, drink infusion, and sauce or topping infusion. Tincture infusion is also the most simple edible infusion method there is - just add as many drops to your final recipe as you need for your desired strength! Tincture can be added to your favorite drink or water, dripped onto a piece of gum for microdosing, added to a candy mix to make lollipops or gummies, dripped into a BBQ or caramel sauce, or even used in moderation in a mixed drink (be aware that combining cannabis and alcohol results in a multiplied effectiveness of both compounds, producing much stronger effects than alcohol or cannabis would on their own - this should only be experimented with by experienced cannabis users with high tolerances, under safe conditions, and only in low doses to avoid negative side effects). Experiment with using tinctures in your favorite pre-made food and drink items to find the combination that works best for your lifestyle.
We hope that this general guidance on all the different ways that you can infuse both whole-plant cannabis and its derivative products into your food have inspired you to get creative with your cannabis consumption options.
As a final reminder, new edibles experimentations should always be undertaken with caution and preparation to avoid overconsumption incidents. The Periodic edibles mantra of “Start Low, Go Slow” is vital to successful and enjoyable edible experiences - start with a low dose, and wait up to 2 hours before dosing further to observe the effects you experience. Consider keeping a journal to track your dosage and experiences so that you can better predict your future adventures and empower yourself with knowledge of your individual needs.
If you have any tips or tricks for creating at-home edibles that you’d like to share, or a method for infusing a cannabis product that we didn’t mention here, please reach out to us at email@example.com, and we’ll update this blog post with a special credit to your edible genius!