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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wake and bake: How to cook with cannabis

Posted By on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 at 8:36 AM

On the upcoming stoner holiday of 420 (better known this year as Easter), folks will be celebrating in all sorts of ways - tokes, vapes, bong rips. For cannabis culinarians, that means a wonderful assortment of cannabis-based edibles. That is, weed made delicious.

The practice of ingesting cannabis has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to 2500 BC when its euphoric properties were discovered by the ancient Chinese. Since then, folks have been tinkering with methods to extract the mood-altering cannabinoids (the stuff that gets you lifted), primarily tetrahydracannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) from the plant, to add to their favorite recipes.

Edibles run the gamut from baked goods to full-on culinary applications, such as soups, sauces and even breads... and weed, man. Most commonly, edibles arrive in the form of cookies or brownies, although there are thousands of recipes to, um, elevate your curiosities.

Let's have an Alton Brown moment and talk about exactly what needs to happen in order to extract these delightful chemicals from your fat sack. Cannabinoids are fat soluble; meaning, in order to extract them, you must bond them to a fat molecule and heat them to encourage decarboxylation, which promotes the activation of THC. Think oil, butter or milk as your fat-soluble liquid. Cannabis can also be cooked directly into foods or ground to a fine powder and mixed with other ingredients. Cannaflour, anyone?

Mary Jane, at least that's what we'll call her for anonymity's sake, agreed to speak with me (on her corporate lunch break, all hush-hush over the phone inside the printing room of her office) about her favorite extraction process. Mary Jane started cooking with cannabis in college (didn't we all?) and was first taught the process of extracting with oil.

"It was a mess. The smell got everywhere and was hard to get out," the 32-year-old says.

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  • Photos provided by Mary Jane

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Four years ago, she and her husband stumbled on the word "cannabutter," or cannabis-infused butter, and found a tried-and-true recipe on the 420 Magazine website, a popular publication for cannabis enthusiasts. The simplified process is: combine one ounce of product, four sticks of butter and several cups of water and slowly boil it together. After a few hours, the glossy butter mixture is strained through a cheesecloth and then left to harden in the refrigerator. Once solidified, excess water is drained off and the butter is ready for use. Cannabutter preparation takes about two to three hours of simmering, says Mary Jane, and is best done outdoors. She makes it a social event with friends.

Mary Jane keeps her baking simple - brownies, cookies and mini-muffins. The baked goods produce a full-body high that lasts approximately six to eight hours. She prefers it to smoking because she's an athlete and doesn't want to pollute her lungs with smoke. She recommends you start small because ingesting cannabis produces a more powerful high that can be a real buzzkill if you overdo it. Nobody wants to be your babysitter for the night.

Of course, this is not the final word on how to make edibles. No matter what's cooking, experimenting, testing and perfecting a recipe is the name of the game. This is just one of many methods.

Need inspiration? Hit up The Stoner's Cookbook (www.thestonerscookbook.com), an online compilation of weed recipes.

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