Cultivating cannabis seeds is hard work. You spend months so that you can carefully tend to your plants and so you will be able to harvest a crop of fragrant and frosty cannabis buds to try out. But, before you get to enjoy these buds, you first need to dry them. While you might find it tempting to dry your cannabis as quickly as possible, you must do some curing so that you can maximize your harvest.
Curing is a prolonged process of removing the moisture from marijuana buds while placing them under controlled environmental conditions, to provide you a much better quality of cannabis. If you want to learn more about curing, keep on reading.
Why Should You Cure Cannabis?
Curing Increases Cannabis Potency
Cannabis plants produce tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, also known as THC, using a chemical process called biosynthesis. In this process, certain compounds are slowly converted into new blends. THC is well-known as the powerful and desired psychoactive cannabis compound that people seek.
The process of biosynthesis does not necessarily stop the moment you begin cutting your plant. If you retain your harvested buds between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity levels between 45 to 55 percent, the conversion of non-psychoactive cannabinoids to THCA will continue, and your cannabis buds will gain the desired potency. When you do quick drying under warm and dry states, this process gets halted much faster.
Curing Affects the Flavor of the Cannabis Smoke
Many of the cannabis aromatic compounds, also known as terpenes, give marijuana buds their unique scent and taste profile. But terpenes are highly volatile, and they can degrade and evaporate when temperatures are as low as 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The best option is to slow cure the buds at low temperatures will preserve these terpenes better than a quick, hot drying process.
These conditions also start establishing an optimal environment for important aerobic bacteria and enzymes that can break down leftover minerals and unwanted sugars produced by the decomposition of chlorophyll when the drying process starts. The presence of these sugars and leftover minerals causes the harsh, throat-burning sensation you get from smoking some improperly cured cannabis.
Curing Preserves Cannabis
When you do the curing correctly, your cannabis buds will be stored for long periods of waiting without being infected by mold or losing its potency. Well-cured cannabis buds can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to two years without the significant loss of strength.
Initial Cannabis Drying
How you begin completing this step is dependent on how you harvested your cannabis. The most popular way is to cut 12 to 16-inch branches from the plants, remove unwanted leaves, and then hang the branches from string or wire. Some home growers cut and hang whole plants, while others will snip buds and place them on cannabis drying racks. You can fully manicure flowers before drying, or you can wait until after.
Whatever method you choose to go for, you must keep harvested cannabis in the dark and dry room with temperatures kept within the 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit range with humidity between 45 to 55 percent. This is crucial so that you can preserve the flavor and aroma of your harvested products. It is recommended that you have a humidifier, air conditioning unit, and a small fan to gently circulate the air.
When the flowers feel a little crunchy on the outside, and the smallest branches snap when you bend them instead of folding, you are ready to begin curing. Depending on the density of the flowers and other environmental conditions, it can take anywhere from 5 to 15 days for the initial drying to be complete.
The Process of Curing Cannabis Buds
Step 1: Manicure your buds and separate them from the branches if you have not done them yet.
Step 2: Place the trimmed cannabis buds in an airtight container. Most people use full mouth quart-sized canning jars, but you can use metal, plastic, wood, and ceramic vessels as well. Some growers use oven bags, which were perfectly fine, but most plastic bags are not suitable for curing as they are not resistant to oxygen and they can degrade when they come into contact with some terpenes found in cannabis. Just pack the flowers loosely into your preferred container and fill them all the way to the top without crushing the buds.
Step 3: Seal the containers and place them in a cool, dry, and dark spot so that the curing process will be finished. Within the first day, you will see that the buds are no longer crunchy and dry on the outside, as moisture from the inside the flowers rehydrates the outer portions. If this is not the case, you might have made a mistake and over-dried your cannabis.
Step 4: During the first week, open the vessels a few times per day and allow the flowers to breathe for a few minutes. This allows the moisture to escape and replenish the oxygen inside the container. If you notice the aroma of ammonia when you open a case, it means buds are not dry enough to be cured, and anaerobic bacteria are consuming them, which will lead to moldy and rotten cannabis. After the first week, you will only need to open the containers once for every few days or so.
Step 5: After spending two or three weeks in containers, your cannabis buds will be cured enough to provide a high-quality experience, but four to eight weeks of cure time will improve them even more. Some strains benefit from six months or more of curing.
The curing process of cannabis is an often overlooked aspect of producing high-quality cannabis. It is one that was almost ignored when the black market was our only option. Due to the competition in the medical and recreational cannabis market, more producers and dispensaries are paying much-needed attention to this unique process that has the power to turn a decent smoke to an excellent one. Now that you know how to cure effectively, you can do the same to your homegrown flowers.