PSA: Here's how you should *actually* bake weed brownies.
by Jessica Toscano Feb 22, 2021
Growing up, many of us had that friend who baked pot brownies. Although they weren’t gourmet, they always did the job. Now, in the realm of weed recipes, brownies are old school, and if you’re going to bake them, you want to do it right. “I first started cooking cannabis when I was in college in the ’80s,” JeffThe420Chef tells Intrigue. “Basically, I would make brownies or cookies and take weed and grind it up and put it into the batter. It didn’t work so great, but it worked a bit.”
The craft of weed-infused dishes is more complex than the simple addition of an ingredient, he explains. “People who are really interested in [cannabis culinary] and start doing the research online will see that cannabis oils are the way to go.”
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington in 2012, a first for the U.S., cannabis-infused cuisine has developed into a culinary movement of cookbooks, restaurants, and elevated experiences dedicated to the art of getting high. Unlike smoking marijuana, which directly enters the bloodstream and elicits an almost instantaneous euphoria, consuming it allows its effects to gradually take place throughout the course of a meal. But like the creation of a relatively straightforward dish like mac and cheese, you can’t just combine the ingredients you think you need and hope for the best; otherwise, you’ll end up with cheese melted over pasta.
When it comes to cannabis, before you can even begin to cook with it, you need to decarb it, which Chef Jeff explains, means a mixture of heat and time to remove the “A” molecule from the non-psychoactive effects of THCA and convert it into the high-inducing effects of THC. “[Without decarbing], you might get the effect of THCA, which is also a fantastic cannabinoid for the body, but you won’t get the psychoactive effects from it,” he says. Not to mention, it tastes horrible.
How long and at what temperature you decarb for depends on whether you choose to first soak your bud in distilled water to remove impurities, like surface insecticides, which he recommends. To do this, you’ll first need to break apart the buds with your fingers or use a grinder to create smaller fragments that can be placed into a container, or as Chef Jeff suggests, a french press. Next, you’ll want to let your cannabis soak for two or three days, changing the water around every 12 hours until it becomes translucent — a sign that it’s time to transfer your buds into a tea strainer, which you’ll place into a pot of boiling water, then immediately into a bowl of ice water to “shock the cannabis back to reality.”
Afterward, you’ll want to ensure your cannabis is relatively dry before you decarb; otherwise, the amount of heat time can alter. A few good spins in a salad spinner should do. Next, you’ll place your dried cannabis into an oven-safe dish and tightly cover it with aluminum foil to keep your home from smelling like a hotbox (or don’t if you’re into that) and into the oven for about an hour at 240 degrees.
You want to be very mindful of that time limit, so your weed doesn’t toast and burn, says Chef Jeff. “[Your bud] doesn’t have to be bone dry, but you don’t want it to be too toasty because the toastier it gets, the more of a toasted plant matter flavor it’s going to have.”
After 60 minutes, promptly remove your dish from the oven, and let it cool for about five minutes before removing the foil. Once you do, you’ll want to make sure your cannabis is completely dry. If it’s not, gently cover it with paper towels, and let it sit overnight. From there, you’re able to begin making your cannabutter or cannaoil, which is the basis of most cannabis-infused dishes. You can find recipes for both on Chef Jeff’s website, along with how to make cannabis-infused sugar and alcohol tincture.
“Ruby sugar is a great example of an innovative new product that makes it really simple and easy to use cannabis, whether it’s in your coffee or baked goods,” says Chef Jeff. But if you live in an area where it’s not readily available, my cannabis-infused sugar recipe is a great alternative. It’s a little tedious because it takes about three weeks to make, but it lasts forever.
As for cannaoil and cannabutter, which last several months when refrigerated, make sure to always check for little globules, which can form at the bottom of the oil, or mold, which might appear over time on the cannabutter, he says. If you notice either, it’s a sign it’s time to toss them.
Once ready to incorporate your DIY infusions into recipes, it’s important to consider the amount you’ll need to feel the effects of the THC. This is where it can get tricky because there’s no hard number for everyone, and you don’t want to consume too much that you’re stoned for hours or too little that you don’t experience the effects of the cannabis at all.
“Everybody’s body is a bit different, but 10 milligrams is a good starting point,” says Chef Jeff. To make it easier to calculate, he created a free THC calculator app that allows you to determine the number of milligrams your edible can or should be, so you know just how much cannabutter or cannaoil to incorporate into your recipe. “If you don’t want to use the calculator, [my] cookbook The 420 Gourmet teaches you all about cannabis,” he adds.
Unsurprisingly, there's a lot to learn. To start, the strain of cannabis means very little in the world of weed culinary. Potency and the ripeness of the trichomes aka the crystalline structures that coat the bud are what come into play most, says Chef Jeff. “The trichomes really are determining the effect. If I want to make bedtime cookies, I’ll look for a riper strength. If I’m making something more energetic for daytime focus and creativity, I’m going to look for something that was harvested earlier on in the cycle.”
He then compares the trichomes to bananas to explain their three ripening stages. Before they're ripe, like a green banana, the trichomes are crystal clear. This is the stage where the bud offers an uplifting effect. But it can be so energetic, he warns, it can give you a headache and make you feel anxious. When the trichomes overripen, like the final stage of a banana where it's covered in black spots, they turn amber and have a sedative effect. This is great if your goal is to get a good night’s sleep. But what cannabis cultivators strive for are the ripe, almost overripe milky-colored trichomes that offer a happy medium between the two ripening stages.
“To get that euphoric effect, most people will harvest their cannabis when their trichomes are milky, going into amber,” says Chef Jeff. That coupled with the entourage effect — the terpenes, chlorophyll, flavonoids, and different cannabinoids in the plant — is what allows you to enjoy the overall effect of that strength in the art of cannabis culinary.
Ready to test your cannabis culinary skills? Give these five recipes a go from Chef Jeff’s The 420 Gourmet. Dose responsibly!
1. Canna Chips
Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the delicacy of cannabis-infused vegan potato chips while bingeing a new Netflix series? Especially when only 20 minutes of this recipe calls for hands-on action; the remainder 40 are spent baking in the oven, a healthier alternative to fried, so you can munch and bake in good conscious.
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Spice up veggies, crackers, and chips (literally) with this canna-oil-infused, Sativa-dominant hummus, sure to elevate your mood shortly after your first bite.
Bake a batch that’ll last with this funfetti recipe that makes 24 large cookies you can warm, sandwich, or freeze for later. The possibilities are endless.
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