A Guide to Curing Cannabis
Anyone who grows is perfectly aware of how much love and care is required to produce high-quality flower. An important part of this process is drying and curing your weed. Curing cannabis allows the flavors to be brought out from the weed while diminishing the plant-like taste. While cannabis can, of course, be smoked immediately after cutting, taking the time to properly dry and cure your marijuana will lead to better quality, aroma, and flavor.
Why is Curing Cannabis Important?
All plants require a curing process for the best flavor and quality. At the same time, curing is designed to preserve the product in its freshest form. In the case of drying marijuana, the curing process is helping to preserve the cannabinoids within. By learning how to dry marijuana, you’re preserving both cannabinoids and terpenes. Without this, they would either evaporate or morph into compounds you don’t want in your weed.
So, what happens from the moment you harvest the cannabis crop? After harvesting, the enzymes and aerobic bacteria begin to break down starches and excess sugars. Curing marijuana removes these starches and excess sugars before they have the chance to dry and become lodged in the plant. If you’ve ever wondered why some strains of weed taste harsher than others, this is the reason. Quality products are dried and cured properly before being shipped out to dispensaries and customers. Curing weed improves flavor, maintains a high level of cannabinoids, and makes smoking an overall more pleasurable experience.
How to Cure Weed
Drying marijuana for the first time may seem intimidating, but it’s a relatively quick process. But first, you must gather the right equipment before you begin the process of curing cannabis.
Step Zero – Equipment Required for Curing Marijuana
While some equipment is required for drying cannabis, you can pick up most of the following items for just a few dollars. Here’s a brief rundown of the minimum equipment required:
Step One – Set Up a Drying Cannabis Room
Before you start curing, you need to set up a dedicated space for it. A drying room can be anything you want it to be, as long as you have as much control over the climate as possible. The ideal drying room won’t be in direct sunlight and will be cool and dry. For larger operations, you may have the facilities to micro-adjust the climate of your drying room.
Most growers prefer to use a garage or a basement as their drying rooms because these rooms tend to be less exposed to outside elements. The ideal temperature for a drying room rests between 60-70℉, with a humidity rating of between 55-65%. Later on, if you realize your plants are taking too long to dry, you may need to adjust the temperature or humidity. Drying is an extremely delicate process and it’s crucial that you monitor the temperature and humidity in your drying room.
Step Two – Drying Your Buds
The first step after harvesting is to dry your buds. Learning how to dry weed is surprisingly easy — the traditional way of doing it is to hang them upside down inside your dry room. It’s important to dry them upside down because this allows the THC to move from its non-psychoactive state into a psychoactive state. In other words, without this step, you’re going to struggle to get high once you start smoking. Avoid rushing this process as THC can degrade too quickly. It takes an average of five to seven days to complete the drying process properly.
Step Three – Trimming Your Buds
Once your buds are dry, trim them with your trimming scissors. Wear your nitrile gloves to make it easier to handle your marijuana and make sure you properly separate each bud (make sure you remove the sugar leaves as well). Due to the fact the drying process can take 5-7 days, and the buds will continue to dry as you trim, you may want to trim in portions.
Step Four – How to Cure Weed
Curing weed requires you to place the trimmed buds in an airtight container. The most common containers used are quart or half-gallon mason jars. However, you can also use wood, ceramic, or metal containers. As long as the container is completely airtight and sealed, it’s a viable option for curing cannabis. Never try to cure inside a plastic bag. Not only do they fail to keep out oxygen, but they can also degrade when coming into contact with cannabis terpenes. Pack the buds loosely in the containers you’re using. They should not be crushed inside or compacted. Make sure you insert your miniature hygrometer into each jar to keep track of the moisture levels.
During the process, you’ll quickly notice how the buds become softer. This happens due to the moisture within the center of the buds redistributing to the outer portions. If this hasn’t happened, it means you dried your buds for too long. At all times, the humidity within the jars should rest between 55-65%. During the first few days, expect to check your hygrometer twice per day.
Step Five – Burping Your Jars
When you start the curing process, seal the jars overnight and check them the next day. If any of your buds are too wet, which you can tell from the miniature hygrometers in your jars, leave the lid off for either a half-day or a full day. Repeat this until they reach the appropriate moisture level. You can also gently squeeze them to test their consistency. Burp your jars once or twice per day for a couple of minutes during the initial week of curing. This rids the jars of excess moisture and allows a small amount of oxygen inside.
It’s also good practice to smell each jar when burping. If you detect the stench of ammonia, it means the buds are too wet. The anaerobic bacteria are consuming your cannabis, which will eventually leave them moldy and rotten. If this happens, leave the lid off for a full day. After the first week has passed, burp the containers just once every few days until your bud is ready to be smoked.
Four Methods for Curing Cannabis
Over the years, growers have worked to produce the best flavors and the most potent buds. This extensive trial and error has led to several more technical methods for curing, including:
Heat dehydration cure method
The Water-Cure Method
Unlike traditional cannabis curing, the water-cure method cuts down on the required waiting time. It also helps to purify the plant and remove any unwanted pieces from what you harvested. Water curing involves submerging the buds in water for one week. This causes a hydrolytic reaction to happen, whereby the water dissolves salt, sugar, toxins, and insecticides at a faster rate.
The downside to this method is terpenes often get dissolved too, which can ruin the plant’s aroma and flavor. Also, if you care about the aesthetic of your plant, this is not the curing method for you. Use the water-cure method if you value speed over all else.
The Freeze-Dry Method
Freeze-drying, or lyophilizing, has been discussed for years. The newest of the curation methods, it’s only recently been mastered. Cannabis lyophilization involves drying the buds first and then curing to preserve the aesthetic of the flower. It also has the effect of reducing the amount of moisture exposure. This method includes three different stages:
The sublimation drying stage removes 95% of all water content within the buds. Finally, the second desorption drying leaves all but 1-4% moisture. This also allows it to be preserved for longer. In cans, it’s estimated that your cannabis could last for up to 25 years. As long as you have the equipment, the entire curing process can be completed in just 24 hours. The downside is that since this is a resource-intensive process, the high operating costs are prohibitive.
The Sweat-Cure Method
Also known as high-humidity curing, this method involves rotating the buds at regular intervals on a flat surface to ensure they dry evenly. The leaves will change color rapidly due to the presence of microorganisms. This is a laborious form of curing and is usually only recommended for tiny buds that don’t suit other curing methods.
The Heat Dehydration Method
Heat dehydration is a riskier method because while you can remove more moisture than with other curing options, you must monitor the temperature closely. If you fail to keep a handle on the temperature, your buds could completely disintegrate. Types of heat dehydration curing include microwave drying and oven drying. Heat dehydration increases the speed of the curing process but keep in mind that there is a high risk of crippling the potency and the flavor of your buds.
Factors Affecting Cannabis Curation
Learning how to dry cannabis and cure it properly means understanding the factors that influence the result.
Your drying and curing room should always be hidden from the light. During the curation process, light is one of the things that can degrade molecules, including terpenes and THC. In other words, light exposure will ruin not only the potency of your buds but the flavor. A darkened room prevents this from happening.
If you’re struggling to find the right place, consider investing in Miron glass jars. These jars are designed to keep out all visible light, while only allowing ultraviolet light inside. Even if you do have a dark room, some cannabis connoisseurs prefer to use these jars anyway for additional protection.
For most growers, heat is not a factor. However, if you live in certain parts of California, Arizona, or Nevada, you need to be mindful of the climate. Heat has a direct influence on how quickly cannabinoids degrade, which will reduce the potency of the buds. The ideal temperature for the curing process is 21℃ (69.8°F). A simple thermometer and a fan to circulate air should be more than enough to maintain a suitable temperature.
The biggest challenge when curing weed is preventing excess humidity. Too much humidity increases the chances of your cannabis going moldy, or even rotten. Buds in humid environments tend to clump together and also cause anaerobic bacteria to start breaking down your plant. As mentioned previously, ammonia is the tell-tale sign of this process. To complicate matters, if you lack humidity, the buds become dry and crumbly. While they can still be smoked, the taste will be excessively harsh and unpleasant.
When drying cannabis, the humidity should stay around 45-55%. The sweet spot when curing is roughly 62%, but as long as it remains between 55% and 65%, you will still have an excellent result. Digital hygrometers are essential for this process. Plus, if you live in a humid climate, you may want to invest in a dehumidifier.
How Long Does it Take to Cure Weed?
Determining how long to cure weed largely depends on your level of patience. Some growers won’t touch their harvest until after at least two months of curing have elapsed. On the other hand, most people agree that weed is considered cured after a single month. It largely depends on how soon you want to start smoking your stash, but anything less than a month usually leads to poor results.
How to Store Your Cannabis Once Cured
So, you’ve finished curing — congratulations! However, storing your buds is just as important to maintaining quality as proper curing is. Cannabis can be stored for up to two years without losing too much of its potency. Proper storage is essential for keeping it as fresh as possible. Luckily, the hard part is over as storage is relatively easy. Just choose an air-tight container and store it in a dark and temperate location. Many growers choose to use the same container they cured their cannabis in.
It’s recommended to burp the jars once a month, but this is far from necessary. As long as the drying and curing process went according to plan, the jars have already been burped enough.
But what about vacuum-sealing or freezing cured cannabis? While vacuuming is possible, plastic touching your hard-earned flower isn’t necessarily a good thing for the purity of the buds. Of course, for short periods, such as when dispensaries send out their orders to customers, this is perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, vacuuming does tend to crush the buds. This takes away some of the majesty of all-natural flower.
Regarding freezing your weed, this is another viable option and removes the need for burping your jars (if you choose to do so). On the other hand, the effect of freezing on weed is not dissimilar to freezing and defrosting food. It diminishes the taste and the flavor. Finally, freezing means that you need to prepare in advance if you’re going to use any of your stored weed, which can be inconvenient.
Pro-Tips for Cannabis Curation
Curing marijuana isn’t only about the actual curing process, but the drying process as well. Implementing best practices from day one will ensure you keep your weed pure and the flavor fantastic.
Take it Slow
The number one piece of advice is to take it slow. If you’re someone who lacks patience, you’ll have a hard time harvesting the best quality weed. Generally, it’s recommended that you dry and cure for the full two months before doing anything with your marijuana. While it might be frustrating, implementing alternative curing methods to speed up the time will inevitably lead to compromising on texture, taste, and potency.
Use Gloves When Handling Marijuana
During the drying and trimming process, you might not believe you need gloves. While not everyone minds handling marijuana with their bare hands, there are two reasons to invest in a pack of nitrile gloves.
Firstly, marijuana is much easier to handle. Remember, when marijuana is harvested, it can be extremely sticky, with some strains being far stickier than others.
Secondly, you don’t know where your hands have been. Reducing the potential for contaminants will reduce the chances of experiencing funguses and bacteria from ruining your entire harvest.
Use Liners to Collect and Transport Your Harvest
Your drying room should not only be a place for drying and curing weed, but also a sterile area. While you can’t control every pollutant in the room, using liners to collect and transport your harvest will limit the number of contaminants in the room. As any grower knows, trimming and drying can dirty a room quickly. Mold growth anywhere in the vicinity can and will lead to ruined products. Keep your drying room as clean as possible to stop this from happening.
Choose a Dry Trim Over a Wet Trim
While some growers favor the wet trim over the dry, you will always get better results if you take the time to allow your buds to dry before trimming. There is a huge loss of quality with wet trimming as terpenes tend to be lost while curing. Generally, once the cannabis has dried on the outside and the stems become brittle, it’s time to start trimming.
Consider Drying Racks Over Trays
Trays are a cheaper option for trimming, but they should only really be used when wet trimming. When dry trimming, trays aren’t ideal because you either need to keep rotating the harvest or accept an uneven dry.
Also, using trays means you will need to beware of flattening on one side. If you want to avoid labor-intensive drying, invest in drying racks. Drying racks will remove the water content of your flowers by 10-15% every time, which is something you won’t find when using a tray.
Opt for Longer Drying Sessions
As already mentioned, the standard drying time for cannabis is five to seven days. However, by adjusting the conditions inside your drying room, you can also extend the drying time. Some farms have even started to adopt a 14-day drying cycle for their harvests to bolster the aroma, aesthetic, and terpene profile of each plant.
Store in a Terpene Shielding Container
If the classic mason jar isn’t your thing, consider purchasing a cannabis humidity pack. These packs are useful for maintaining optimal humidity, preventing moisture damage, and maintaining freshness. Some advanced cannabis storage packs even contain a terpene shield, which protects the trichomes from evaporation. Terpene shielding containers have been proven to enhance the potency of your marijuana for longer.
Invest in Better Climate Control
One of the biggest developments in the world of marijuana growing and harvesting is the use of technology. While some growers prefer nothing more than some hooks on the wall, a selection of mason jars, and a home thermometer, there’s more you can do to control the local climate. The more control you have over the climate, the better the end product will be. AC systems, dehumidifiers, and remotely controlled gauges can take the strain off your shoulders while leading to a more accurate drying and curing process.
Pay More Attention to Your Weed
Finally, the best piece of advice is to pay attention to your weed. The timings given in this guide are only guidelines and only you can know what your specific crops need. Until you’re confident in drying and curing cannabis, pay extra visits to your curing room. Look carefully at each jar of marijuana and inspect it using touch and aroma. The more closely you pay attention, the more you will learn, and your next harvest will be better than the last.
Drying cannabis and curing it for the first time is a time-consuming yet vital process in producing a premium product. If you don’t want to wait, you’re in luck. Amuse’s premium products have already gone through the process so you don’t have to. We offer a quality selection of the finest cannabis for home delivery, so shop now or contact us today to learn more.