After tending your plants lovingly for months, while relying on weed delivery, you finally have a harvest of pungent, frosty buds just begging for your first taste. However, you first need to dry them. Then cure them. While harrying this process along may be tempting, taking the slow route and removing moisture from the buds properly will give you much better buds, and in several very important ways.
Correct Curing Enhances Potency
Through biosynthesis, a process that converts compounds into new ones, cannabis plants produce tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA, as well as other cannabinoids. THCA eventually converts into tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive compound found in marijuana plants. Biosynthesis does not stop when you chop your plants down. It continues for some time yet.
If you store freshly harvested buds in temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity levels at around 50 percent, then the process of converting THCA into THC continues unabated, which increases the potency of your buds. This process occurs much faster if you quick dry your buds in dry, warm conditions, removing any risk of mold or other unwanted fungi and bacteria from taking hold.
Proper Curing Improves Smoke Quality and Flavor
Terpenes, the aromatic molecules responsible for the unique taste and smell of cannabis, are extremely volatile. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, terpenes start to degrade and evaporate at very low temperatures, as low as 70 degrees Fahrenheit. By curing your buds slowly at low temperatures, you can preserve terpenes better than if you dry quickly in hot temperatures.
In these conditions, the environment is also ideal for aerobic bacteria and other enzymes to break down. This removes undesirable sugars and other compounds produced by the breakdown of chlorophyll while your buds are drying. Chlorophyll tastes horrible. These by-products of its breakdown cause that throat-searing harshness associated with smoking improperly cured buds.
Curing the Right Way Preserves Buds
If you dry and cure your buds right, you will be able to store them for much longer than you would if you do not. You will also have no need to worry about mold or losing cannabinoid potency. You can store well-cured buds in airtight containers for up to two years in a dark, cool space, and without losing any of its cannabinoid content. If badly cured, you cannot to store it for long and will likely attract mold.
How to Dry Cannabis and Cure It
You can cure weed in a variety of ways, but most variate on the most popular method, tried and tested for assurance. While freeze-drying is possible, even using dry ice or water to cure your buds, the surest and easiest method will give you the best possible results from harvesting all of your hard work. Simply follow these very simple steps:
· Drying Your Buds
The initial drying process is incredibly important. How you complete it relies heavily on how you harvest your crops. For most, the best way is to cut branches off the plants, remove the unwanted leaves, and then hang them upside down using wire, string, or some other type of ligature. Some cut whole plants and hang them as is, while still others snip buds off individually and dry them on drying racks.
You can trim your buds before your dry them, or you can do it afterward. No matter which method you choose, it is imperative that you do all of this in a dark room, with humidity around 50 percent, temperature around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and with a fan to provide crucial air circulation. All of this is necessary to preserve potency, flavor, and pungency of your harvest.
To keep conditions optimal and within a healthy range, it is advisable to invest in an air-conditioning unit or a dehumidifier. You will know your buds are dry enough for curing when they feel crunchy to the touch. The littlest branches will snap easily instead of fold when you bend them. If flowers are especially dense, or conditions not ideal, it may take a day or two longer to dry them properly.
· Curing Your Buds
When your buds are nicely crunchy and you determine them ready for the curing process, remove any attached branches and trim your buds. Give them a good manicure, if you have not already done so. Then, place them into an airtight container, such as a wide-mouth canning jar, or even wood, metal, ceramic, or plastic jars. Some even use oven bags, which will work, but plastic is not ideal.
Folks use plastic for curing as a very last resort. It degrades in certain conditions, when in contact with terpenes, and is not impervious to oxygen. Glass is best. Always. When packing your buds into curing jars, pack them loosely, not too tight. Fill the jars to the top, but without crushing or compacting the buds too much, which should maintain their integrity wherever possible.
When the jars are full, seal them tightly and store them in a dry, cool, dark place to cure. Within a day, buds will lose their crunchiness as moisture within the buds rehydrates them. This is normal. If buds are still crunchy after a day or two, you may have over-dried them. During the first week of curing, “burp” the jars several times a day by opening them up and allowing them to breathe for a minute or two.
Burping is important, as it allows moisture to escape and it provides fresh oxygen. If at any time you smell ammonia when burping, then your buds are not dry enough for curing and are under attack from anaerobic bacteria, such as mold, which will rot your buds and make them unusable. After the first week, you do not need to burp jars so often. Every few days will do.
Once your buds have been curing for two or three weeks, they should be ready for smoking. However, although you will enjoy a quality experience, the ideal curing time is around eight weeks. The longer you leave your buds to cure, the better they will be, in taste, potency, and quality. Some strains require a longing curing process than others do, some as long as six months, some even longer.
Drying and curing is likely the most overlooked part of growing weed. However, doing it right is easy if you know how and do not allow chance for mold and other bacteria to develop. Leave your buds to cure long enough, resist the temptation to smoke them before they are ready. There is always weed delivery available while you wait, so follow this guide for healthy, potent, and delicious buds.