For people who want to consume marijuana but don't want to inhale it, cooking with the herb is a fantastic alternative. There are literally hundreds of ways to cook with cannabis, and consumers who learn to make tasty edibles in their own kitchens will enjoy experimenting with new recipes for years to come. Here's an overview of what budding marijuana chefs need to know.

Cannabis Cooking 101

Cooking with cannabis is a little more complicated than taking the entire plant and tossing it into brownie batter. In addition to producing some unfortunate-tasting brownies nobody would want to eat, doing so would also defeat the purpose of cooking with cannabis, as the herb needs to be processed (via heat) in order to decarboxylate and become psychoactive. Left to its own devices, the human body can't digest the THC found in raw cannabis. Because of this, most cannabis recipes require a form of cannabis extract, such as cannabutter or cannabis-infused oil.

Because cannabis is fat-soluble (stored in fat), it must always be cooked with some form of fat -- like butter, an oil, or milk. This allows the compounds within the cannabis to release into the fat, maximizing the effects of the plant and creating a better-tasting edible.

The Process of Decarboxylation

Decarboxylation is the process cannabis must go through before being used for cooking, and also before being included in any form of cannabutter or cannabis-infused oil. Because raw cannabis contains a multitude of compounds that are not psychoactive (THCA, for example), it must be heated in order to change the chemical structure of the herb and activate the psychoactive compounds within it.

Decarboxylation is a simple process that can easily be done at home. Most consumers choose to decarboxylate their cannabis by laying it out on a lined cookie sheet and baking it at low temperatures for a long period of time. At the end of the baking period, the cannabis becomes crumbly and dry. At this point, it is ground in a food processor and can be included in a variety of different extractions.

While decarboxylation may seem like an added step in the journey toward homemade cannabis cuisine, it's something consumers who want to cook with cannabis must do in order to ensure a quality product.

Extracting Cannabis

Cannabis must always be processed with heat before cooking, and there are several methods of doing so. The two most popular methods of extracting cannabis at home are by making cannabutter (cannabis-infused butter) and cannabis-infused oil.

While the THC in cannabis doesn't bind to water, it binds to fats very well. This means processing the cannabis in the form of heated butter or oil activates the psychoactive compounds within the plant, preserves the terpenes (the heat-sensitive oils and compounds within marijuana that give the plant its taste and smell), and produces a simple, tasty, and easy-to-use method of incorporating cannabis into a variety of meals and dishes. Most consumers enjoy experimenting with both cannabis-infused oil and cannabutter, each offering ease of use and versatility.

Cannabutter

Cannabutter is a favorite of cannabis consumers everywhere. Easy to use on everything from toast to homemade cookies, cannabutter is a versatile method of extracting cannabis at home. Check out our cannabutter recipe.

Cannabis-infused oil

Simple, tasty, versatile, and easy to use, cannabis-infused oil can easily be used as a replacement for normal cooking oil in recipes like brownies and other baked goods. It can also be used in things like salad dressings and garnishes. See our recipe for marijuana-infused oil.

Measuring Cannabis for Cooking

One of the biggest struggles home cannabis cooks face is accurately measuring the amount of marijuana to include in a recipe. Homemade edibles that contain too much cannabis produce an uncomfortable high, while homemade edibles that don't contain enough cannabis are simply disappointing. Fortunately, it's easy to calculate cannabis levels correctly by using a simple guide.

As a general rule, 1 teaspoon of cannabis butter or cannabis-infused oil contains 10 milligrams of cannabis, which is a good introductory serving (people who have never used cannabis before will be more comfortable around 5 milligrams per serving). If the consumer would like to alter the serving size as they become more experienced with homemade edibles, they should be sure to start off slowly and move up gradually.

What to Expect From Cannabis Edibles

Consumers who have never eaten marijuana before are often shocked by how different the effects can be from smoking. In addition to producing a different high, consuming edibles produces effects that last much longer than they would after inhalation. Here are some general guidelines about what to expect from homemade edibles:

  • Effects of the edibles are generally felt within 30 minutes to three hours after consumption of the edible.
  • Effects usually begin with relaxation and may become a "head high," depending upon which strain of marijuana the consumer is using.
  • People who do not enjoy the effects of edibles can drink citrus fruit juice (such as orange or grapefruit) or consume a high-CBD product to calm the effects.

Cooking with cannabis is a fantastic way for consumers to expand their toolbox of marijuana tricks and create some tasty, unique edibles at home. From brownies to salad dressings and everything in between, there's no question that cooking with cannabis is a skill every marijuana aficionado should master.

Some simple and popular recipes include:

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