There’s no one secret to producing great cannabis – the best cannabis is the product of premium genetics, careful cultivation, precise pruning, timely trimming and, finally, a slow-and-steady curing process.
The necessity of this last step should not be understated. A proper curing process (though timely and kind of boring) is key to producing that smooth, flavorful (and yes, more potent) smoke sesh that’s characteristic of only the finest green, and we’ll tell you exactly how to do it right. But before we do that, let’s look at why curing cannabis is so important in the first place.
Curing for Preservation Purposes
People have been curing their food for as long as there has been civilization. In fact, the ability of ancient humans to cure (and thus store) food for later consumption may have been the most important step to creating civilize societies.
No longer was it necessary to consume food as soon as it was harvested or hunted; food preservation via various curing processes meant people could reap bountiful harvest then save it for later instead of always having to be on the prowl for their next meal.
Though many curing methods have been used over the years, the goal is always the same: to remove bacteria for long-term storage.
This is done to meats using preservatives like salts, sugars and nitrites, but when it comes to cannabis, we rely on nothing more than patience and persistence.
Benefits to Properly Curing Cannabis
Though every vegetable requires a different curing process for the best outcome, the goal is the same: to preserve the product while retaining vital flavors, nutrients and in the case of cannabis, cannabinoids.
Proper curing stops the degradation process before volatile compounds like terpenes and cannabinoids evaporate or transform into less favorable compounds.
From the moment the crop is harvested it begins to degrade as enzymes and aerobic bacteria break down excess sugars and starches. Curing cannabis essentially forces the plant to use up those sugars, starches and excessive nutrients before they’ve had the chance to dry out and get stuck inside the plant.
If you’ve ever wondered why some cannabis is harsher or less flavorful when you smoke it, it is because these residual components have not been properly cured out of the plant prior to drying and/or distribution to the consumer. A good cannabis cure will not only improve the flavor and smoothness of a smoke sesh, it will also improve product potency, too!
That’s because cannabinoid synthesis (the process of creating those valuable chemicals) continues even after harvest.
When freshly-harvested cannabis flowers are kept at the proper temperature and humidity, non-psychoactive cannabinoids will continue to transform into THCa, a precursor to psychoactive THC.
How to Cure Cannabis
To effectively cure your harvested cannabis (if you’re unsure when to harvest, click here), begin by hanging trimmed bud upside down in a dark room from a laundry line or clothing hangers. Buds that are still attached to the stock will hang easily at the node while smaller, “popcorn” buds may need to be dried on a screen to encourage airflow.
The room should ideally be kept between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level between 45 and 55 percent to help preserve the terpene content of the bud.
After one to two weeks, the stems should gently break when bent (instead of folding like they do when they’re fresh) and the outside of the flower should be slightly crisp. When this happens, it’s time for the next step: sweating your bud. You’ll do this by removing the bud from the larger stems (use this time to finish manicuring them if necessary) and placing them in sealable containers.
Set the containers in a cool, dark location then return multiple times daily to open (or “burp”) the containers which removes excess moisture by drawing it out through the bud slowly while keeping the oxygen content fresh.
Note: if you notice the smell of mold or ammonia after burping your containers the first few times, it likely means the bud is not dry enough to cure yet. Remove the buds from the jars and continue air-drying for a few more days to avoid mold.
After a few weeks, you’ll be able to burp your containers less frequently (once every few days to a week, for example) while the bud continues curing. Though your bud will be fine to smoke after two to four weeks, continued curing for four to eight weeks or more will improve the flavor and potency even more. Properly cured cannabis can be stored for up to six months in these containers or for long-term storage, it can be kept in vacuum-sealed storage for a year or more.
You don’t have to be an experienced cannabis cultivator to produce high-quality bud at home. Ideal strain and grow conditions aside, the best bud always takes a bit more love and attention, and the curing process is no exception.
Taking the time to properly cure your cannabis will pay off big-time, and earn you some awesome bragging rights, to boot.
Do you have any tips for curing cannabis? Share them with our readers below.