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Decarboxylation: The First Step to Cooking with Cannabis

Decarboxylation: The First Step to Cooking with Cannabis


Decarboxylation is a critical step when it comes to cooking with cannabis. It’s the process of applying low heat to dried cannabis to transform THCa into the psychoactive chemical THC. Skipping decarboxylation would result in very weak edibles to say the least! So, before you begin creating your canna-butter or canna-coconut oil or whatever you’re whipping up, you’ll want to take the time to make sure you’ve activated that THC through one of these methods.

Oven Method

One of the simplest methods of decarboxylation is using a baking sheet and oven. Cover a baking tray with tinfoil or parchment paper, break apart your cannabis and spread it out evenly on the tray. Place in an oven set to 225F.

Remember that oven calibration can fluctuate, especially in older models. Keep an eye on your cannabis while baking to ensure it doesn’t singe or burn which will destroy the potency and flavor. You should invest in an oven thermometer if you plan on doing a lot of cooking with cannabis. If in doubt, set your oven lower and bake for longer. Toast for approximately 45 minutes until light brown. Cool to room temperature and then store in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it.

Sous Vide Method

Another popular method of decarboxylating cannabis is sous vide, the boiling bag method. Although you need more equipment, sous vide has the added benefit of being mostly odorless. Simply place your ground cannabis in an airtight boiling bag and add to a large pot of boiling water for approximately 90 minutes. It’s important to make sure the water doesn’t evaporate during this period, so keep an eye on water levels. Ideally, you want to keep the water at a full boil. After 90 minutes, remove the bag, allow to cool, remove the cannabis and store.

Microwave Method

If you don’t have access to an oven or stove, or simply want an ultra-fast, super easy decarb method, then the microwave is for you. This is not a preferred method of decarboxylation with edible crafters but in a pinch, it’ll work! Place ground cannabis in a microwave-safe bowl and cover completely with heavy plastic wrap, a basting bag or similar covering. The idea is to keep the vapors from the heated cannabis enclosed so that the chemical compounds can be absorbed back into the cannabis when cooled.

Microwave the cannabis for 90 seconds, repeat 2-3xs. Allow to cool before removing the cover.

That’s all there is to decarboxylating cannabis, although if you decide to become a serious baker there are advanced ways to do it with more expensive equipment designed to maximize preservation of cannabinoids and terpenoids. But for the average home chef, the above methods will work fine. Just make sure not to skip this important step or you’ll end up with unimpressive edibles!

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