How to Master Drying & Curing Cannabis

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Properly
dried and cured cannabis flower buds burn evenly and have a smooth, rich taste.
When smoked, the embers have an even glow and enter the body smoothly. When
vaporized, there should be no apparent “green” taste.

If
flower buds are dried too quickly, chlorophyll and other pigments, starch and
nitrates or other fertilizer salts are trapped within plant tissue, making it
burn unevenly and taste unpleasantly “green.” If buds are dried too slow, or not at all, they rot.

Gardeners can lose some or all of their crop to poor drying and curing cannabis techniques. Here’s how to do it right:

Drying

Drying converts 75% or more of a freshly harvested plant into water vapor and other gases and converts carbohydrates to simple sugars. Drying also converts chlorophyll and other pigments so that no “green” residuals remain.

You
can harvest an entire plant, individual branches or strip flower buds from
branches to dry. When stems are severed, the transport of fluids within the
plant continues, but at a much slower rate. The natural plant processes slowly
come to an end as the plant dries. The outer cells are the first to dry, but
fluid still moves from internal cells to supply moisture to outer cells, which
are dry. When the drying and curing processes occur properly, plants dry evenly
throughout. Removing leaves and large stems upon harvest speeds drying;
however, moisture content within the “dried” flower
buds, leaves and stems can become uneven.

Drying
time depends upon temperature, humidity and bud density. Ideal temperature is
60-70°F and the best humidity range for drying
is 45-55%. Most flower buds will be dry enough in three to five days before
passing to the curing process, but they may take longer. It can take up to two
weeks before all chlorophyll — the stuff that gives the “green” taste — has dissipated from
foliage. Big, fat, dense flower buds can take three to four days longer to dry
than smaller buds. Gently squeeze buds after they have been drying for a few
days to check for moisture content. Bend stems to see if they are dry. If the
stem breaks rather than folds, it is ready to cure. The bud should be dry to
the touch but not brittle. The bud should burn well enough to smoke when dry.

Curing

Even
after plants, branches or buds have dried on screens or been suspended in a
drying room for five to seven days and appear to be dry, they still contain
moisture inside. This moisture affects taste, fragrance and cannabinoid content
(potency). Curing will remove this excess moisture and all it contains.

Curing makes buds uniformly dry and pleasant to consume, and preserves natural cannabinoids and terpenes.

Curing
after drying helps remove any remaining chlorophyll, other pigments, latent
fertilizer salts and so on that have accumulated in flower buds, leaves and
stems. If dried too quickly, flower buds retain more chlorophyll and have a “green” taste, and when vaporized
or smoked are harsh on the pallet and often burn too hot. For some, curing is not
essential. In fact, some medical patients prefer the often minty flavor of
uncured cannabis.

Curing
also allows cannabis to fully dry so that mold does not grow when it is stored.
Well-cured flower buds are soft and pliable but dry inside. Flower buds should
feel like they are dry and only the dry pliable foliage is holding resin onto
stems. Here’s how to cure bud:

Gently place “dry”
flower buds in an airtight container. Clear and opaque turkey bags are popular.
So are food-grade sealable plastic buckets. There are also bags that reflect
heat and are airtight (when properly sealed) and infrared-proof, which protects
them from heat.

Write the date on the containers and place in a cool, dry, dark place. Moisture inside buds will migrate from the center of the stem outward. Check the container after two to four hours to see if buds feel different. Gently squeeze a couple of buds to see if they feel moister now, but be careful, resin glands bruise easily.

Open the drying container two to three times a day for the first seven
days to release moisture. Take a whiff the instant you open the container. The
fragrance should be sweet and somewhat moist. Close the container quickly. If
necessary, remove buds from jar for a short time to inspect for mold and
disease.

After the first week, open
containers once or twice a week for a quick whiff. Do not open too many times
or the slow-curing process will stop. Some gardeners cure flower buds slowly
for six months or longer. However, after two to three weeks they should be
fully cured and remain fresh, firm and pliable. Flower buds can be sealed in
containers and stored.

Things to Avoid

Light — especially ultraviolet (UV) rays from natural sunlight — heat and friction hasten biodegradation of resin glands and cannabinoids. Do not place dried cannabis in hot automobile glove compartments, and keep it away from heat vents and so forth. Friction and rough handling can bruise and rupture resin glands. Even with proper drying and curing, brutal handling of harvested cannabis will diminish cannabinoid content.

TELL US, have you ever grown cannabis?

Originally published in Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE



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