Everything you Need to Know About Cooking with Cannabis
Elevated Edibles provides cannabis users with a safe and clear guide on how to effectively cook gourmet cannabis infused food. Cannabis (or marijuana) edibles are a great solution for those who are looking for alternative, potentially healthier forms of medicating and are passionate about cooking and eating delicious food. Whatever your purpose for cooking with cannabis, our guide provides everything you need to know to take you from start to finish.
When many people think of cannabis edibles, they associate it with chocolate brownies that taste horrible and have a mystery effect. We were tired of not knowing how to accurately calculate dosages and eating food with a horrible bitter taste. At Elevated Edibles, you’ll find gourmet quality food tastefully incorporating cannabis with instruction suitable for everyday cooking.
We will strive to deliver the highest quality recipes to bring this culinary art to the forefront. But we can’t do it without you! The key to the success of Elevated Edibles is to incorporate feedback, recipes, and ideas from you, the Hempster community!
In this guide we will discuss the following:
- How to get started
- Measuring potency & standardized Hempster doses
- Eating vs. inhaling cannabis
- What happens if I eat too much?
- What part of the plant do I use?
- The cooking process: decarboxylation & basic cannabis extractions
- Cooking with tinctures and premade oils
- Pairing terpenes with food
- Alternative infusion methods
- Tips to prepare before your first time
1. How do I Start?
Like any other form of medicating, when cooking with cannabis, the strain of cannabis you use will dictate the effect it has on you. You can find the perfect strain for you using our handy customizable search filter. You can also read further if you need a basic overview on each of the most important cannabinoids in cannabis, namely as THC and CBD.
Generally, when cooking with cannabis, most recipes will call for a certain amount of cannabis extract, such as butter, oil or milk which is used in place of the standard equivalent. The reason for this is twofold.
First, when cooking with cannabis, it is imperative to use fat (oil, butter, milk), as THC is fat soluble and not water soluble. As the cannabis mixture is cooked and heated, the cannabinoids will be released from the cannabis and into the soluble.
Second, cannabis needs to be heated to certain temperatures in order to be digested by the human body and used effectively as medication. The process of heating cannabis in preparation for cooking is called decarboxylation and is a vital component to effectively cooking with cannabis.
2. Measuring Potency & Hempster Doses
Measuring potency can be tricky! One of the most difficult aspects of cooking with cannabis is measuring the potency of the finished edible. The main driver of the psychoactive potency will be the amount of THC in milligrams per serving. All licensed producers in Canada and the majority of licensed dispensaries in the US clearly label their cannabis with the exact THC levels.
The general rule of thumb is that a regular cannabis user can consume 10 mg of THC per serving. If you are a beginner, a good starting dose is no more than 5 mg.
Let’s do some simple math:
1 gram equals 1000 mg.
Assuming your cannabis has 10% THC, one gram of dried flower would have 100 mg of THC.
Using that math, a tenth of a gram of dried flower would produce a 10 mg dose.
To make things simple for you, we decided to standardize all of our cannabis extracts so that one tablespoon per butter or oil is equal to one 10 mg dose. In making this assumption we assumed that your medical cannabis does not have a more than 10% THC. In addition, we have created our edible calculator so you can better measure the potency of your edibles or find the right amount of cannabis to use in your extract. Please be aware of the THC content of your cannabis before cooking.
If you want to do the THC potency math at home, divide the amount of ground cannabis in milligrams by the recipe yield.
If your cannabis is high CBD and does not include THC, there is more leeway in finding the potency that works best for you since CBD is non-psychoactive. The standard dose still applies on the assumption of 10% CBD.
It is important to note that as cannabinoids are fat soluble, the fat content of the particular oil, butter, or milk will affect the potency of your cannabis extract. The greater the fat content, the greater the potency.
It may also take up to a few hours for you to feel the full effects of the medicated edibles. Please start slow! Start out with conservative doses and don’t overeat until you’ve found what dosages work best for you, especially if it is your first time. At Hempster, we advocate for waiting an hour or two prior to eating again in order to make a safe and informed decision.
3. Eating vs. Inhaling Cannabis
Eating cannabis is a very different experience than inhaling it. For starters, the effects can take much longer to kick in and can last much longer. Some users have reported feeling the effects in 20 minutes, while some require several hours! Most issues people have with eating cannabis are impatience and overeating too early.
The actual ‘high’ can also be quite different. Consuming edibles is often associated with more of a body high, but that is not to say the psychoactive effects of THC may not also be very present. When done correctly, eating cannabis can be a very enjoyable, mellow, and even euphoric experience. The key is to relax into the feeling and ‘go with the flow’ of the experience.
The reason eating cannabis causes a different experience than inhalation is because when ingesting cannabis the THC is metabolized by the liver, which is not otherwise the case. The liver converts the THC to 11-hydroxy-THC, which can cross the blood-brain barrier, resulting in a more intense high. Inhaled THC is absorbed much differently and travels directly to the brain, causing effects to come on and diminish much faster.
Cannabis edibles are perfect for those looking for long term effects or relief, such as treating chronic pain or other ailments. Additionally, if you are concerned about pulmonary health, eating cannabis can be a healthier alternative than smoking as well.
4. What Happens if I eat too Much?
Eating too much marijuana infused food can be an overwhelming, unpleasant experience. You may feel sick, anxious, nauseous, paranoid, like you are unable to walk or speak, or even experience hallucinations. While this can be very intense and uncomfortable, it is important to remain calm and remember that you cannot overdose on THC and the high will eventually fade. If you have eaten too much cannabis, here are some tips that may help you:
- Don’t panic! Remember that everything will eventually be okay and the symptoms will eventually dissipate.
- Consume vitamin C by eating or drinking the juice of citrus acid fruits such as oranges, grapefruits or lemons.
- Hydrate! Drink lots of water to combat any dry mouth you may feel.
- You can sniff or chew some black pepper. Some advocates (including Neil Young) claim it provides instant relief.
- Eat pistachios or pine nuts as they contain pinene, a chemical that can help with mental clarity.
- You can consume CBD products as CBD is known to counterbalance the effects of THC.
- If possible, try to get comfortable and sleep it off.
If you have any others to add, please share your tips in the comments section below!
5. Can I use the Whole Plant or Just the Flower?
As chefs, we love using all elements of the food or plant we are cooking with. Each different part provides different flavours and medicinal effects. Our recipes will include different elements from the plant, including the leaves, the trim and the flower. While not as potent as the flower, the trim and the stems can still be used to create cannabis infusions (and are a great way to save some of your hard earned money).
Each of our basic infusions uses the flower, but you can substitute for trim for a cheaper alternative. Note that making good extracts starts with high quality product, particularly the flower. Flower will provide a more potent product, so you may need to adjust the amount of cannabis you use if using trim.
6. The Cooking Process
Note – you can skip the decarboxylation and extraction steps in general if you prefer to use infused oil directly from a Licensed Producer. Skip below to see if this is right for you.
It may sound complicated, but decarbing is very simple and is important to getting the full medicinal value of the cannabis. ‘Decarbing’ (or activation by heat) is generally done by slow roasting the cannabis in the oven.
The process is important because raw cannabis contains the non-bioavailable compounds found in cannabis, such as THCA and CBDA. Once heated, those compounds are converted into their corresponding neutral forms, THC and CBD, allowing you to get the full effect of the cannabis.
How to Decarboxylate Cannabis
Note: this process will emit a cannabis scent in your kitchen. Open a window or just enjoy the fine aroma!
- Preheat oven to 240° F.
- Break up cannabis buds into smaller pieces and place the material on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for roughly 40 minutes. Watch for the plant color to get darker (a light to medium brown shade). When it is time to remove from the oven, the material should be crumbly looking.
Now you’re medicine is ready for cooking! Click for some basic extraction recipes.
Some other things to consider:
- Ensure your oven’s temperature does not exceed 240°F, as certain cannabinoids begin to boil off above that.
- Decarboxylation may produce a strong odor. If you are concerned, be sure to do it in a well ventilated area.
- If you don’t use all the decarbed material, feel free to store it for later in an airtight, opaque container.
Basic Cannabis Extractions
Once you’ve made one of the extractions below you can make your first Hempster dish. Looking for more? See our full list of cannabis extractions.
Whether you need some herbal butter for a creamy risotto or just to spread on toast in the morning, cannabutter is super versatile and can be stored for future use. This water-simmered cannabutter is a tried and true recipe that has been used by experienced cannabis chefs for years. If you are keen on reducing the time, effort, and mess involved there are magic butter machines to easily infuse the cannabis into the butter.
Shelf life is similar to normal butter. For longest use, properly seal and refrigerate or freeze.
Cannabis infused oil is as versatile as it gets. From cooking your morning eggs to using in a salad dressing or in a dessert, the opportunities are limited only by your imagination! While the Hempster chefs prefer olive oil or coconut oil for most of our recipes, the process below works with any oil of your choice.
Shelf life can be 2 months or longer with refrigeration.
Coconut oil is a favourite for infusions due to its richness in fatty acids that help the cannabinoids bind with the oil. Coconut oil can have up to 80% saturated fats allowing it to retain up to 4 times more cannabinoids during extractions than olive oil. Coconut oil is not just ideal due to its fat content, but also provides a tasty, mild oil flavour ideal for balancing a variety of cuisines.
Shelf life can be 2 months or longer with refrigeration.
4. Magic Milk
Magic milk is the perfect substitute in any recipe that calls for milk. Whether you want to enjoy a medicated coffee, tea, or a delicious morning smoothie, this recipe has you covered. Magic Milk can be created with any assortment of milk, from cow to almond. But remember, the higher the fat content, the more effective the cannabinoid (THC, CBD…) activation will be.
For best results we recommend you use full fat milk. Take note of the expiry date of the milk if you are storing in the fridge for future use.
That being said, Almond Milk is a healthy and vegan alternative to using regular cow’s milk. We love it for our morning smoothie to get the day started off right!
We recommend making your own almond milk as store-bought almond milk may contain little to no saturated fat. Without the fat content, the cannabinoids will not effectively activate and emulsify.
*Unlike the oil and butter, a proper dose is closer to ½ cup of milk depending on your personal tolerance levels and strain potency.
This medicated sweetener is perfect for adding to smoothies, teas, or even our ooey gooey chicken wings. Store some of the honey at room temperature to use on the go and keep larger amounts in the fridge where it seems to store indefinitely. We would give a shelf life, but for some reason the honey always seems to get finished before it goes bad!
7. Cooking with Cannabis Tinctures and Premade Oils
Cannabis tinctures, essentially infused alcohol, are a liquid concentrate made through alcohol extraction, typically Everclear. These cannabis based extracts are a low calorie alternative to medicating your edibles, as one or two drops can be sufficient for a dosage. Tinctures can easily be incorporated into your food by adding the appropriate amount to any of your food or drink.
Cannabis oils are a quick and easy alternative to those looking for simply adding a few drops of oil to their food for precise dosing. Since cannabis oils are already decarboxylated, you can add your ideal dosage of drops to any food. Licensed Producers in Canada provide equivalency factors so patients can easily identify the THC or CBD dosage in milliliters. Simply identify your ideal dosage (say 5 mg per serving) and you can easily calculate the amount of premade cannabis oil to add to your recipe.
8. Pairing Food and Terpenes
Pairing the right cannabis with your food or beverage is more than just about what medicinal effects you are looking for. The right pairing should consider the cannabis terpenes, the naturally occurring compounds that give strains their unique aromas and flavours.
Terpenes can provide a citrusy or earthy note that can perfectly complement your dish. Take note of the aroma of your flower when considering how it can be paired with your food. If you want to learn more, here’s how to pair food and drink with Terpenes.
9. Alternative Infusion Methods
Infusing foods with cannabis, whether psychoactive, purely medicinal, or both, is really only limited by our imagination. Any fat can be infused with cannabis much like with any other aromatic herb. Leading chefs and experimenters are pushing the envelope of what is possible, from CBD distillates to concentrated resin, people are finding new and unique ways to elevate their edibles.
10. Tips to Prepare Before your First Time
1. Eat before you eat.
Edibles will pack a more powerful punch on an empty stomach.
2. Get cozy.
Choose a relaxing, safe place where you can enjoy in peace and comfort.
3. Start slow.
Always start with a low dose and wait at least 1-2 hours before eating any more.
4. Don’t drink alcohol.
Alcohol can exasperate the “high” and produce an unwanted spinning feeling.
Your mindset is the key. Remind yourself that everything will be okay!