Happy 4/20. Have you planned your munchies yet?
Now that California has officially entered the land of legal pot, it's high time we know what to do with it. And while smoking is a time-honored tradition, what about those of us who prefer to nibble our way to bliss? Because butter is the foundation of so many good things in the kitchen, it's time to learn how to make pot butter, also known as canna-butter.
Recently, I spoke with Jeff Danzer, a.k.a. JeffThe420Chef. Known as the "Julia Child of weed," Danzer is the author of "The 420 Gourmet: The Elevated Art of Cannabis Cuisine," a comprehensive guide to cannabis, complete with recipes that go way beyond cookies and brownies, and begins with the foundations of cannabis-infused butter and oil.
If you've never made canna-butter, it's not that difficult, but it's a little more involved than tossing dry buds in a saucepan with a couple sticks of butter. Danzer recommends following a few steps to get the best product:
STEP 1: Soak and blanch
"Just like you wash your fruits and vegetables, you have to clean your cannabis," says Danzer. You don't know how it was grown, whether inside or outside. "A lot of stuff on the bud, you don't want in your food or your body: dirt, bugs, bacteria from dirty hands."
He recommends soaking your cannabis buds in filtered water for 24 to 48 hours, changing the water every 12 hours or so. This helps to remove surface contaminants by opening up the bud to allow impurities to leach out.
After soaking, blanch the buds to destroy additional microbes in boiling water. It's just a quick blanch, and the water isn't hot enough to destroy the trichomes (those shiny, sticky little crystals covering the bud and leaves that contain the cannabinoids and terpenes that give cannabis its signature effects) in the cannabis. After a few minutes, drain the buds and shock them in ice water to stop the heating process.
STEP 2: Dry and "Decarb"
Cannabis buds contain THC-A. The only way to get the psychoactive effect from THC is by burning or smoking the cannabis, or by drying it at an elevated temperature, which converts the THC-A to THC, also known as decarboxylating or "decarbing." Danzer recommends drying it in the oven at 240 degrees for 60 to 90 minutes to ready the cannabis for infusing.
STEP 3: Infuse
Now that your buds are ready, steep them in gently simmering butter or oil for a few hours. That's it.
4 to 5 hours, plus overnight soaking and drying times. Makes about ½ cup butter
¼ ounce (7 grams) cannabis flower
1 1/3 sticks (10 ½ tablespoons) salted or unsalted butter
1. Coarsely grind the cannabis flower and soak in distilled water for 24 to 48 hours, changing the water twice daily.
2. After soaking, place the "cleaned" cannabis in a tea strainer. Bring water to a boil in a pot, then add the tea strainer and boil the cannabis for 5 minutes.
3. Remove the tea strainer, and place in a bowl of ice water for 1 minute. Remove from ice water and pour distilled water to rinse out any residual impurities. Remove the cannabis from the strainer and wring out excess water.
4. Spread the cannabis evenly over a large baking sheet and place a large piece of aluminum foil loosely over the top of it (i.e. don't crimp it tightly around the edges). Set aside overnight. Your cannabis should be dry by the next morning. (You can skip this step if you use a dehydrator.)
5. Heat the oven to 240 degrees.
6. Crimp the foil down over the cannabis in the sheet and bake for 60 to 90 minutes to "decarb" the cannabis.
7. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes (this allows the THC and CBD vapors to settle back onto the herb). Remove the foil and loosely cover with a couple of paper towels. This creates a dark environment with airflow.
8. Set the pan aside, covered with paper towels, on the counter for 2 to 4 hours to dry out any residual moisture.
9. Melt the butter in a French press placed standing up in a pot of simmering water.
10. Place the cannabis into the melted butter and cover the French press. Press the plunger to just above the butter. This will be your water line.
11. After 3 hours, remove the French press from the pot, push the plunger all the way down, and strain the butter into a butter container. Refrigerate to resolidify.
12. Remove the solidified butter from the refrigerator and separate from the butter dish onto a paper towel, dabbing to remove any residual water that accumulated during the process. Place the butter back in the dish and keep refrigerated for up to 1 month. To soften, set out at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
Note: Adapted from a recipe in "The 420 Gourmet" by JeffThe420Chef, along with updated notes from the author.