I have a stash box full of cannabis concentrates—it’s a hodgepodge of old oils, discount concentrates that were too cheap to pass up, gifts from friends, and the like. And while I always aim to put them to good use, sometimes months pass before I remember I even have them. I try and smoke one only to find it’s harsh and tasteless; back in the stash box it goes, to be checked on a few weeks later when I’m running low. It’s an endless cycle of hot nonsense.
After some research, I realized there’s a better use for old concentrates: cook them into edibles!
If you didn’t know you could use your leftover concentrates to make potent edibles, break out your stash box and get ready to cook.
Consider the dish you’ll infuse
The first step in cooking with concentrates is to give some thought to the final product—are you making, say, a plain salad dressing? You may want to opt for a distillate rather than RSO as RSO’s concentrated form may leave a bitter aftertaste.
“All types of cannabis concentrates can be used in cooking,” said Jay Denniston, director of science at Dixie Brands. “However, the myriad of different types of concentrates, with variability in potency, form, flavor, and aroma, can create difficulty in choosing the right type of product to use in an infused dish.”
“Full extract cannabis oils like RSO will deliver a heavier botanical flavor and aroma than crystalline extracts,” continued Denniston. “If a food will be consumed in small concentrated doses, like olive oil, the cannabis extract flavor will be present to a higher degree.”
Denniston also suggested opting for high-fat foods like peanut butter, olive oil, or ghee as they more easily accept concentrates for infusion.
Choose your concentrate
Know your concentrate before infusing it.
“Concentrates that occur in semi-solid to solid states, such as live resin, terp sauce, budder, wax, and especially sugar wax, have the potential to contain high amounts of THCA,” said Denniston.
For those of you wondering what THCA is, it is the non-intoxicating compound that converts to the euphoric THC over time or when heat is applied.
Some concentrates are easier to work with than others. Crystal isolates, for instance, often come in the form of a white powder that’s easy to manipulate.
“The main advantage of using distillate is that it’s flavorless, scentless, and completely ready to be incorporated into the fat component of your chosen recipe,” said Troy Ivan, CEO & Founder of ExtractCraft.
Distillate, then, has a lot of appeal considering its potency and the fact it doesn’t need to be decarboxylated. However, each choice comes with its own unique challenges as well.
“The disadvantage [with distillate] is that all other cannabinoids and desirable cannabis components have been purposefully removed,” said Ivan. “Any synergistic and ‘entourage effect’ benefits contained in full-spectrum oil are not present in distillate and many would argue that it’s less medicinal with a lower efficacy.”
Others, like Brandin LaShea, chef and host of the digital cooking show Pot Pie, prefer to go the RSO route for its ease of use.
“I sometimes prefer to use certain concentrates like RSO because you can skip the decarboxylation step, and add them directly to your favorite recipes, which makes the process a lot easier for someone just starting out,” said LaShea.
Make sure you only use concentrates that have third-party lab test results. You want to be absolutely sure of what’s going into your edible.
Dosing cannabis oils for edibles
The key to having a good edible experience is to take things low and slow. This is especially important when dealing with homemade edibles, which are famously difficult to dose.
You’ll need a few basic pieces of information to calculate your approximate dose:
- The weight of your concentrate (in grams)
- The potency of the concentrate (% THC or CBD)
- The number of servings the cooked dish yields (i.e. “makes a dozen cookies”)
To calculate, use this equation:
(weight of concentrate x THC% x 1,000)/number of servings
- Multiply the weight of your concentrate (in grams) by the percentage of THC (as a decimal)
- Multiply that number by 1,000 to convert grams to milligrams
- Divide that number by the number of servings your recipe yields to determine milligrams of THC per portion
For example, 0.25 grams of a concentrate with 80% THC potency, should yield about 200mg of THC: (0.25 x 0.80) x 1,000 = 200.
Then, 200mg of THC distributed throughout 8 servings provides each serving with 25mg of THC, assuming even distribution (mix well!).
Make sure you’re already familiar with your ideal dose, and when in doubt, start with a very low dose (between 1-5mg) and work your way up.
Decarboxylate your concentrate (if needed)
Before cooking, you’ll want to be sure that your concentrate is decarboxylated. This converts non-intoxicating THCA into the euphoric THC we all know and love.
Higher temperatures are more likely to eliminate valuable cannabinoids and other compounds, so decarbing low and slow is generally the best way to go.
Getting your concentrates out of their containers can be tricky. Ivan advises using a lighter to melt concentrates stuck to metallic tools or sticking concentrates in the freezer until they stiffen up and can be easily removed. “Be careful. If you leave it in the freezer too long it will become like glass and shatter into little shards all over the place,” warned Ivan.
LaShea advises decarbing each type of concentrate as follows:
- Desired amount of BHO
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Oven thermometer
- Preheat your oven to 200°F (93°C). Make sure you use your thermometer to test the oven temp before placing BHO in the oven.
- Line your baking sheet with your parchment paper.
- Put your wax, shatter, crumble, or budder on the center of your parchment lined baking sheet.
- Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. You will want to watch your concentrate very closely and make sure it doesn’t overcook. Once it has melted down and starts to really bubble, you know it is ready.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Large stockpot
- Cooking oil (like canola oil)
- Heat proof container for RSO or CO2 oil (silicone or glass)
- Desired amount of RSO or CO2 oil
- Spoon for stirring
- Fill a stock pot about a quarter way up with cooking oil.
- Place sealed container (silicone or glass container) with RSO or CO2 oil into pot with oil.
- Began heating oil on medium-low heat.
- Heat oil to 200°F (93°C), watching very closely and checking temperature with your thermometer. Break up bubbles with a spoon.
- Once you’ve reached the temperature of 200°F, turn off the stovetop and remove pot from heat.
- After about 1-2 minutes or when the bubbles have started to mellow out, remove concentrate container from oil with tongs. You can also leave it in until the bubbles have completely stopped for a more potent oil with stronger effects.
Note: Decarbing concentrates will make them thicken up, so they will be easier to work with while they are a little warm.
- Desired amount of kief
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Oven thermometer
- Preheat your oven to 200°F (93°C). Make sure you use your thermometer to test the oven temp before placing kief in the oven.
- Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Spread kief around evenly in the center of the baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes stirring halfway through.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.
Select your infusing oil
Oils with high saturated fat contents are the best options as a base oil for infusing as these will remain stable and in a liquid state at room temperature. One of my favorite fats for this purpose is high quality avocado oil.
“Dairy-based butter and animal fats do not offer the same stability and ease of use,” noted Denniston.
He touts MCT oil for its many benefits. “A unique plant-derived oil is MCT oil, which is derived from coconut, but does have a high saturated fat content,” he said. “It is this saturated fat content that provides both quick energy and an ideal medium to dissolve cannabis concentrates. While many virgin coconut oils do have a coconut flavor, MCT oil is processed to remove that flavor.”
You’ve already done most of the hard work with the decarbing and infusing. All that’s left is to add your infusion to a recipe.
You can add certain types of decarboxylated concentrates like shatter, budder, wax, and crumble directly to foods with high fat or oil content by crumbling it over the cooking pot. Kief also works this way, though some may opt to cook off kief in oil before adding it directly to a recipe.
If you’re working with already decarbed concentrates like RSO you’ll want to add it to your carrier fat and melt until dissolved, stirring occasionally. LaShea also notes you should not continue cooking once the concentrate is dissolved.
So long as your recipe remains under 300°F, you’re good to go with just about any dish your heart calls to.
After eating, be sure to wait up to 2 hours for effects to kick in before eating more, lest ye end up too high!