Making Cannabutter has many entry points for error that may ruin your batch. Follow these steps to avoid a mess.
When it comes to making cannabutter, some of us never get it right. Often blind to our mistakes, we fail to realize that our process could be refined with a few simple steps. From using too much cannabis to decarboxylating incorrectly, and from grinding it too fine to straining it poorly, the potency and taste of our cannabutter often disappoints. To help you along in the quest for that perfect batch, let’s run through the common mistakes people make with cannabutter and how to fix it.
How Much Cannabis Do You Need for Cannabutter?
The ratio of cannabis to butter can make or break an infusion. As a general rule, you should use 1 pound of butter for every ounce of cannabis.
Many beginners make the mistake of using too much cannabis. In their pursuit of more potent effects, what they fail to realize is that there is a finite amount of fat in the butter that can be used for infusion. When too much cannabis is used, cannabinoids end up getting left behind without enough fat to cling to. And in the process you just end up wasting your money and your medicine.
To maximize the amount of fat available for infusion, one thing you can do is clarify your butter. Commonly known as ghee, it’s a form of butter without the lactose and casein – two potentially problematic compounds for people with food allergies. Bring the butter to the boil and remove the white layer that forms on top. After about 30 minutes, you should have a golden clear liquid.
With clarified butter, there is a higher ratio of fat, which enhances the infusion. The higher concentration of saturated fats also provides increased bioavailability of the cannabis when consumed. Just remember that you’ll lose approximately ⅓ of the butter in the clarification process, so you’ll need to begin with more than you would otherwise.
Don’t Forget to Decarboxylate Your Cannabis
Sadly, making cannabutter is not as easy as dumping raw cannabis into a pot of heated butter. You’ll need to decarboxylate it first. This is the process of converting both THCa and CBDa into the active forms of THC and CBD.
Many beginners make the mistake of not decarboxylating at all. Others do it incorrectly. Decarboxylation takes place when cannabis is heated to within a narrow, but low, temperature range and exposed to it for anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes (depending on the method). If the temperature is too high, or you expose it to heat for too long, then you end up destroying many of cannabis’s beneficial compounds. Likewise, if the temperature is too low or it’s exposed for too short a time, then you obtain suboptimal results that will result in less potent cannabutter.
Some people use slow cookers, but the best way to decarboxylate is using an oven with strict temperature controls or a water bath. If using the oven, stick to 220-240F and leave it for 45 minutes while keeping the oven door closed. Decarboxylated cannabis should come out dry and light brown in color.
If you’ve underdone it, then you can simply pop it back into the oven. However, if you’ve overdone it, and burned your cannabis, sadly there’s no turning back!
Don’t Grind Your Cannabis Too Fine
When making cannabutter, you’ll want a coarse grind to ensure the best taste. The mistake many beginners make is grinding the cannabis too fine or into a powder. Too fine a grind leads to the cannabutter having a grassy taste, which masks the true flavor of any food you add it to. Moreover, finer grinds can be harder to strain out, leaving your cannabutter grainy.
Regulating the Potency When Making Cannabutter
You don’t want to be the one who feels nothing after consuming a serving of cannabutter, while your aunt – who just had a serving – is off on some transcendent intergalactic journey. In the case of cannabutter, it’s the uneven distribution of cannabis within the butter that can lead to large variations in the potency of servings. Stir it well, perhaps even until your arm hurts.
Dosing edibles is complicated. In one study, the inconsistent potency was deemed the number one barrier for the emerging edibles industry to overcome.
If after sampling the cannabutter, you find it’s less potent, then you can dissolve some hashish or kief into it to help increase potency. If, however, it’s too strong, well there’s no going back. Just be sure you let your aunt know, and eat small amounts!
There’s a simple trick to gauge potency. Make a small batch and take 1/2 teaspoon of cannabutter with food. Wait an hour and note the effects. If you deem these satisfactory, then simply multiply that dose by the total servings you wish to make.
Straining the Butter
The last step in the cannabutter process is one in which many people go wrong. With the oil infused, you’ll need to strain it and ensure none of the plant matter gets into your final product.
A cheesecloth is recommended for this procedure and it’s best to just let gravity do the work. The mistake many people make is in working the solution through with a spatula in an effort to get their money’s worth. By doing this, they end up spoiling the taste of the cannabutter by introducing plant matter.
If you do make the mistake of forcing the solution through the cheesecloth, don’t worry – you haven’t ruined your batch. Just strain it through again to remove leftover plant matter.
If you want to take it a step further to ensure pure tasting cannabutter, place the cannabutter in the fridge overnight. When cooled, the butter will separate from a rusty brown liquid that forms at the bottom. You can later strain and dump this liquid before reheating the cannabutter and straining it once more. While you do lose some volume via this method, you help enhance both potency and taste.
Honing Your Cooking Skills
Making cannabutter is a learning process for many. But the deeper connection it provides to the medicine means that, for many, it becomes a very worthwhile experience. It’s a case of trial and error, but when done right and made with some TLC, your batch of cannabutter can be that potent, good tasting, and discrete medicine we all know it can be.