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6 common mistakes to avoid when baking with cannabis oil

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Now that legalization has passed, Canadians are looking for more ways to incorporate cannabis into their day-to-day lives. Rather than wait another year for edibles to be distributed by your licensed producer, why not make them at home? (Don’t worry, that’s perfectly legal).

There are a number of quick and easy recipes online, but sometimes making a medicated oil can seem complicated and overwhelming. The simplest mistake can trip up even the biggest cannabis connoisseur. That’s why we put down our cooking utensils and decided to ask a pro the do’s and don’ts of cooking with cannabis oil.

Reena Rampersad runs the High Society Supper Club, a catering business in Hamilton, Ontario with a unique angle: they incorporate edibles into their food. Growing up, Rampersad saw her grandmother using cannabis in the making of various salves and remedies, which sparked her interest in using the plant in her own cooking. By following Rampersad’s tips, you’ll be able to avoid those common little mistakes that so-often ruin newbie’s batched and stashes.

Over-grinding your flower

When people first start out making edibles, they often make the simple mistake of over-grinding their bud. Rampersad reminds folks to not grind their bud into a powder, noting this is a common mistake a lot of first time bakers make. While it may seem logical that the finer that you grind, the more potent your end product will be, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“Grind it as you would if you were rolling a joint,” Rampersad explains. The reason for this being that you want to  to create as much surface area as possible when you’re baking to access the THC.

Not properly activating your cannabis

We’ve all been there before: super excited to make edibles for the first time and no clue that you could or should active your weed. I mean, who knew that you needed to? So what exactly does it mean to activate or decarboxylate your cannabis? Rampersad explains that it “removes the extra carboxylic acid molecules which therefore removes an additional molecule off the THC and then activates the plant,” making it psychoactive.

This step is pretty essential in the edibles-making process, so don’t forget it. If you’re wondering the best method for activating your cannabis, it’s actually pretty easy. Rampersad always uses her toaster oven, but explains you could also use a regular oven. After you’re done grinding up your bud, “Put it on a baking sheet, stick it in a toaster oven and then bake it for approximately 45 minutes at a temperature of 220 degrees Celsius. That will activate it for you.”

Overheating your product

After you’ve finished activating your product, take it out of the toaster oven and cool it off. The next step is emulsifying the product in butter or oil. To do this, Rampersad suggests heating it up to a temperature of approximately 180 degrees on your stove top or in a crockpot. While this step is key, it’s easy to turn up the heat a little too high and burn the product. If you’re using the stove top method, Rampersad suggests using a candy thermometer in the butter or oil to check the temperature, stirring once every ten minutes for up to two hours on the stove or four hours in a crockpot. You should also add one cup of water to the mixture to avoid burning the oil or butter.

Improperly straining the oil

Once you’ve infused your butter or oil, your next step is straining. After an hour or two on the stove top, according to Rampersad, you’ll want to strain the entire thing through cheesecloth into a big bowl or a pot. She recommends using silicone mitts while doing this, as the process can get very slippery and the infusion can absorb into your hands. Beginners often fail to properly strain their infusions, which Rampersad says is very important to do. “It’s important to get a good few squeezes out there” as THC can remain in the discarded product, Rampersad explains. She notes that if you are using some kind of double mesh strainer from your kitchen, use a spoon to push everything through.

Over-medicating

Every newcomer to edibles goes through the uncertainty and trepidation of wondering if they have the proper dosage. Rampersad recommends 10 milligrams per serving as a safe dose for anyone partaking in edibles for the first time. She notes to keep in mind that one gram of cannabis is equal to a 1000 milligrams and one gram contains about 200 milligrams of THC.

“I would absolutely say start out with 10 milligrams per serving, and just leave it at that, and give yourself a good half an hour to an hour because different people metabolize it at different rates.”  She recommends starting low and going slow and educating yourself on strains and dosage before starting.

As for your oil, the ratio to keep in mind is 1 cup of oil to 1 gram of ground cannabis (about 200 milligrams of THC).

Not testing the oil’s potency

When you are about to infuse your oil, you’ll want to make sure there is an even distribution of the potency in your batch. Rampersad says that if you’ve followed the 1 cup of oil to 1 gram of ground cannabis rule of thumb, you should have an even distribution. This will give you about 10 milligrams per tablespoon of product.

If you’re making a salad dressing, hot sauce or syrup, be sure to give it a good shake before each use. Rampersad points out that while dressings and sauces can have some sediments, the infusion is already in the product.

Now that you’ve learned the tricks of the trade, check out our recipe for making your own cannabutter.

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