Edibles have become one of the most popular methods for consuming the world’s favourite recreational drug – cannabis. While many people have been making their own cannabis recipes for decades and perhaps even millennia, the gradual easing of cannabis prohibition has opened up many markets to the commercial distribution of cannabis-infused sweets and treats. From gummies and chocolate to sparkling drinks and even beer! Countless edible products can now be found online and in shops all around the world. But if you want to make your own cannabis-infused edibles, there is no better place to start than learning how to make “cannabutter”.
The rising popularity of edibles
It’s true that smoking and vaporising remain the top administration methods for both recreational and medicinal consumers of the cannabis plant. However, edibles offer a completely different experience that, many agree, is fun for a change. Edibles also offer an option for people who don’t like the idea of smoking, whether due to health reasons or simply personal preference. If you’re new to cannabis, edibles are a great option for you, too – although you should definitely be sure to start with a low dose! THC-infused edibles are known for having longer and stronger psychoactive effects.
In the UK and the majority of Europe, high-THC cannabis remains illegal, with the exception of legally prescribed medicinal products. But that doesn’t mean that edibles are completely unavailable. CBD-infused products make up the bulk of the edible market in Europe with all of the aforementioned products available online and in stores across the UK, and THC edibles can be found if you know who to ask. If you don’t, it’s easy to make your own.
DIY edibles with cannabutter
Making your own cannabis-infused edibles can be done in any number of ways, whether you plan to cook with CBD or hemp oils or take a more full-spectrum approach. However, one of the most versatile ways to infuse your food with cannabis is with cannabis butter – or, “cannabutter”.
Butter is the perfect vehicle for incorporating cannabis into your favourite foods. From sweet treats to savory dishes, there are few products that offer as much versatility as butter. It can be used to make cakes, biscuits, pastry, sauces – you name it, you can probably put butter in it. So, in theory, once you have mastered the art of making cannabutter, you can begin delighting your tastebuds with almost every kind of cannabis edible you can think of. Butter is also high in fat – which is required for THC to bind to! So, how exactly is cannabutter made?
Making your own cannabis-infused butter
As the name implies, cannabutter is simply butter infused with cannabis. If you are new to the cannabis edibles world – don’t worry; making your own cannabutter is pretty straightforward and you almost definitely already have everything you need:
- Flat oven tray or rimmed baking sheet
- Baking or parchment paper
- Saucepan/frying pan
- Metal strainer/muslin cloth
- Container for storage
- 7-10 grams of cannabis flower
- 250 grams unsalted butter
- 250ml water
This ratio of cannabis to butter will result in a ‘standard dose’ strength butter. For a milder product, use less cannabis, to make more potent edibles with a higher THC dosage, add more!
In order to make an effective cannabutter, you will first need to decarboxylate your cannabis flower. This process involves heating cannabis flowers, using a stove or oven. This will effectively ‘activate’ your cannabis by converting THCA into THC. When you smoke cannabis, the burning of the plant triggers this decarboxylation, releasing a THC-rich smoke that is inhaled. However, you can activate your cannabis with much lower and less harsh temperatures – as is the case with vaporising.
To make cannabutter, decarboxylation can be achieved by placing your cannabis on a lined baking tray in the oven at a low temperature (around 110-120°C). Leave your buds in the oven for around 30-40 minutes making sure to check on them and give them a shake every 10-15 minutes. This slow approach will allow you to preserve as much of the plant’s natural terpene and cannabinoid profile as possible!
Once you have removed your decarbed cannabis from the oven, allow it to cool a little before using a grinder to grind it into a consistent texture. Be careful not to grind the product to a fine powder, as this may pass through your strainer into the finished product.
Next, you need to melt your butter in a saucepan or frying pan over a low heat. Add the water to help regulate the temperature and prevent your butter from burning. Alternatively, you can use a heatproof bowl over a saucepan containing a little boiling water to make a double boiler. Once your butter is completely melted, add your ground cannabis.
Continue to simmer the mixture on a low heat; be sure not to allow the temperature to exceed 90°C to maintain the integrity of the cannabinoids in your final product. You will need to keep a close eye on the mixture for the next 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally (ideally with a wooden spoon) and never allowing it to come to a boil. If you have a slow cooker it may be possible to control the temperature using the settings to ensure the butter remains
After the simmering time is complete, it is time to strain your melted cannabutter. Place your strainer or muslin cloth over your storage container and pour your butter mixture through it. This will catch the large pieces of cannabis, leaving you with a clean, cannabis-infused butter: your cannabutter!
Finally, all that is left to do is refrigerate your strained butter in an airtight container such as a mason jar. This will allow it to return to the consistency of normal butter so that you can spread, fry, or bake to your heart’s content. This will take at least a couple of hours but it is best to leave it overnight, once refrigerated your cannabutter will have a shelf life of a few weeks in the fridge, in the freezer it should last for at least 6 months.
Not a fan of dairy? You can follow the above process but use coconut oil, olive oil or any other ingredient with a high saturated fat content!
Things to know about cannabis edibles
While cannabis edibles offer efficacy and versatility, this manner of consumption should be approached with caution – particularly when you have no means of testing the relative potency of your edible products and/or a low tolerance level. Making cannabutter is easy, but the potency of the final product can vary significantly from batch to batch.
This can depend on the strength of the cannabis strain used – which, when purchasing from illicit sources is far from an exact science. How long you heat your cannabis when infusing your butter, as well as the temperature applied, can also have an impact on the intensity of the end experience.
For this reason, it is always advisable to start low and go slow. Consider reducing the ratio of cannabis to butter for a milder effect or use less cannabutter in your cooking at first to ensure you are consuming a safe – and fun – amount.
Finally, edibles take significantly longer to kick in when compared to other methods – particularly smoking or vaporising. In fact, in contrast to smoking a joint, which yields results in just a matter of seconds, it can take up to an hour (and sometimes longer) until you begin to feel the effects of a weed brownie or other edible product. So, make sure to start with a small amount and wait for around an hour for the effects to kick in!