Sous Vide Decarboxylation
So, you want to make your own edibles, oil or butter?
In order to cook with cannabis you need to find a way to decarb (short form for decarboxylation) it first, which converts the THCA (won’t make you high but has health benefits) into THC, which is what puts you in your happy place. Same goes for CBD – before decarboxylation, all cannabinoids remain acids and require heat to activate them fully. If you smoke cannabis, the act of lighting it up will decarb it instantly but for cooking, you must use alternative methods.
Another important factor is that cannabis is hydrophobic- that just means that it doesn’t like water and must be infused into a fat (alcohol works too but that is another can of worms that we will discuss later on). So, we know that cannabis MUST be decarbed before infusing and it should be infused with a fat, be it butter, oil or dairy.
Frankly, the old school method of baking it in the oven stinks so if you live in an apartment, downtown, with neighbours who have noses that they can smell with , this is not a great choice. Just because you don’t live on a secluded goat farm in the middle of nowhere doesn’t mean you can’t do this discreetly in your urban abode because there is a solution, my friends.
Also, you are running the chance that your oven is uneven and you can damage the flower and it will not decarb the cannabis and activate the THCA as efficiently as using sous vide. With this method you are going to get as close to 100% activation as you can get at home. This means that if you start with a strain of cannabis that is 21% THCA, you will end up with something that now contains as close to 21% THC as possible. Worst case scenario is that your cannabis will be a bit weaker than you think so you don’t have to worry about dosing too heavily with your infusions.
What is sous vide, you might ask?
Sous vide is French for “under vacuum” and it’s the fancy pants term for cooking things inside vacuum sealed, food grade plastic bags at relatively low, constant temperatures in a water bath.
The sealed bag means it’s virtually odourless and it’s more accurate than baking in a home oven. Reasonably priced Sous Vide Circulators (check Anova and Instant Pot) designed for home use are all over the place now too.
Although Zip Lock freezer bags are great at lower temperature, you are cranking the machine up to 200F so I highly recommend that you upgrade to a vacuum sealer to avoid leaks. I just use a regular old Food Saver from Canadian Tire with generic vacuum sealer bags (you can buy a big roll and cut your own to size or buy pre-cut bags)
Okay, you have your bag sealer, a roll of bags, scissors, a sharpie, some binder clips, a small, gram scale like this one up there (you can get them on amazon or any head shop or dispensary) a sous vide circulator and and you can use a steel cooking pot or a polycarbonate food grade bin (that you can get on Amazon or in any restaurant supply place) to use as your bathtub.
Set up your sous vide according to the manufacturer’s directions, fill it with hottest tap water and program it for 200F.
TIP: wrapping the bin/pot in a couple tea towels (use those binder clips to secure your towels) to insulate it, cover the top with some tin foil to keep the heat in for a faster preheat
You need a coarse grind so use a mini food processor, a coffee grinder or chop up your weed. Buy a cheap one ( Value Village is a great place to find something) and keep it as a dedicated weed chopper. Trust me on this one.
Use your sealer to double up (even triple seal if you are a keener) the seals on both sides and the bottom as a safety precaution against leaks due to the higher heat.
Fill the bag with your coarsely ground weed, spread it out in a thin, flat layer and use the sealer to suck the air out and seal up the fourth side of the bag (double seal that as well)
If you are doing more than one kind of weed, use your sharpie to write the name, the weight and THC/CBD levels of the contents of each bag.
When the water comes to temperature, drop in your bag, hit a timer for 1 hour and 40 minutes and walk away.
TIP: because the bags are very light but must stay submerged, you can put a knife or a spoon in the bottom of the bag to help weigh it down. Just make sure it’s not too lightweight and stainless steel
When the time is up, remove the bag and let it cool to room temperature for about 1o minutes (the CO2 released may cause the bag to swell so don’t panic – that will go down a bit as it all cools)
Open the bag with scissors and proceed with whatever infusion you have planned. The cannabis may be a bit damp but that is from gasses released by the weed, not a leak.
Stay tuned for recipe ideas for turning that decarbed weed into all manners of fats, mocktails, flavoured milk for nighty night tea, dulce de leche, bitters and more.