If this looks like a growers only guide, you should first let us have the chance of showing you the importance of the process of curing buds and why this will affect anything cannabis related that you use in the future.
The importance of the process
Curing has been necessary to preserve herbs and food since the beginning of times and cannabis flowers are no different. As soon as a plant is harvested it will start to degrade as it is not connected to a nutrition font anymore, enzymes and aerobic bacteria break down excess sugars and starches. The process of curing will actually force the plant to use those sugars, starches and nutrients before they get a chance of drying out, maintaining flavour, smoothness and improving potency.
All of this is explained when we understand that the process of creating valuable chemicals will continue even after harvest so having the ideal climate (temperature and humidity especially), will help to improve potency by allowing that non-psychoactive cannabinoids carry on transforming into acidic cannabinoids such as THCA, CB DA,and others. Acidic cannabinoids are non-psychoactive too and there have been found more and more medical uses for them, recently.
Quick guide on drying correctly cannabis flowers
But before we even start talking about how to properly cure cannabis, we will first briefly speak about the importance of drying and how to do it. Drying is a first step to guarantee preservation of cannabis flowers, during the process the bud should lose between 10% – 20% of its weight, depending on how crispy you want the final product to be.
The most common way to do the process is to cut the branches, trim the unwanted leaves, and hang the branches upside down on a cold dark room. But, ideally not any cold dark room and not for any time. In the first three days, a temperature of 68° F (20° C) and a relative humidity of 55% will ensure that the buds get to roughly dried at a level of 30-40% water content. From then on, the temperature should be dropped to 64° F (18° C) to slow the drying process, maintaining humidity. This allows the chlorophyll to decompose, leaving no bitter and green aftertaste and for the starches to be used up.
A good way of seeing if the flower is properly dried is to crack a branch and for it to break and not bend. Beside that, after some experience one may hold the bud and knowing by the crispness if it is ready or not. Important to remember that during curing, the bud will get drier too.
The best ways of curing cannabis flowers
Once the flowers are dried the next step is to start the curing process. If you haven’t trimmed all you needed now is the best time to finish up and take every unwanted and separating the buds from the bigger branches, without breaking to much to preserve trichomes.
Place the trimmed buds in glass jars with hermetic closing to insure that no terpenes and flavonoids will be lost, but do not fill up because the flowers should have some air to breathe and move freely when shaking the jars. After that it is important to stock them in a cool, dry and dark spot (18° C, 50% – 60% humidity), emphasizing the dark part since light may enhance chlorophyll. On the first couple of days, the flowers rehydrate a bit in the outside area.
“Curing weed corresponds to aging a good wine. If the weed quality is average, it is not worth the effort and time necessary to cure it. On the other hand, if the buds are high grade, it is well worth waiting a little longer to get the best out of it.”
— FRANCO, THE STRAIN HUNTER
During the first week, it is recommended to open the containers a couple of times per day and let the flowers breathe for a few minutes. This allows moisture to escape and replaces the oxygen inside the container. Humidity should be ideally be around 60-65%, you can use Boveda to control humidity and guarantee the best cure. After the first week, you only need to open the glass jar every few days and your buds are ready to smoke after two to four weeks. For a ideal cure, some may wait up to two months before smoking.
Extra: the best ways of curing your hash
For extractions, the importance of cure is not so different than it would be for flowers, it will preserve flavour, smoothness and improve potency. Although for hash an important factor to be weighted in, is if the raw material used to produce the extraction was fresh frozen or not. Lately hash makers have been studying the differences in the timing to freeze the flowers before they are used to make hash, but also the differences in the effects it may have in our body, since fresh frozen flowers are higher in THCA.
As it would be with flowers, the best way of curing extraction is in glass jars in a cold, dry and dark spot. The difference between them is that flowers are ready in four to eight weeks, while for proper curing of an extraction one might wait up to three to four months. Having said that, and with the dimension that normally one will carry less quantity of extraction, connoisseurs carry small glass jars inside a dark plastic container, with hermetic closing.
For centuries in the countries where hashish first emerged, curing and aging hash was an art and highly encouraged. Keeping it for to long may has some tricks, it’s important to open it for time to time to prevent mole and to know that some of the terpenes will be lost, while potency and effects will change and increase.