Have you ever wondered how top-shelf strains earn that esteemed title? Well, besides the impeccable growing conditions, the buds are expertly dried and cured under optimum conditions. Curing cannabis helps to retain the flowers’ potency, flavor, and aroma to a high degree. Properly dried and cured buds have a superior taste that sets them apart from non-cured ones. Read on to find out what curing is, how to cure cannabis and the proper storage conditions for cured buds.
Why is curing marijuana important?
After harvesting comes your time as a grower to take the quality of your buds to the next level. The drying process helps to remove most of the moisture (up to 75%) from the buds and usually takes 2-7 days. Curing marijuana is an intricate post-harvest process that removes the remaining moisture from your weed over the course of a few weeks. As it dries, harmful bacteria, sugars, and chlorophyll disintegrate, making for one smooth smoke session. In short, curing cannabis is like the aging of wine: it gets better with time.
Besides enhancing the potency, flavor, and aroma of weed, curing marijuana helps to extend its shelf life. Cured cannabis can last up to 2 years when stored under favorable conditions. With minimum moisture in the core and other parts of the flower, mold and other pathogens cannot attack and compromise its quality.
Drying cannabis buds
Drying your cannabis properly is essential before starting the curing process. A successful drying process will make the curing process much easier to execute. If the flowers aren’t sufficiently dried, it can lead to mold formation and destruction. Excess drying can negatively affect the compounds (cannabinoids and terpenes), which leads to lower potency and compromised flavors. So, before we go deep into the curing process, let’s briefly highlight how to dry your cannabis flowers effectively.
The correct process to drying buds
Drying your buds thoroughly is important to prevent mold later on when your store your weed. The success of the drying process ultimately determines the ease of curing and the final quality of the buds. You should start drying buds immediately after harvest. This ensures that the moisture-filled flowers do not develop bud rot.. Drying cannabis can be done in either of two ways: as a whole plant or individual buds.
With the first option, you hang the whole plant in a hanger or line inside the drying room and leave it to dry as is. The buds are trimmed once drying is complete. The other alternative is to trim the plants while wet and place individual buds on a drying rack. It takes 2-7 days for the buds to sufficiently dry. Try bending a branch or a stem to determine if your buds are dry. If they snap, the bud is ready for the curing process.
Conditions necessary for drying cannabis
- A dark room
- Temperatures of 60°F to 70°F
- Humidity levels ranging from 55% to 65%.
Conditions Necessary for curing cannabis
After a successful drying process, it is time to improve the buds’ taste and potency through curing. This process needs patience, attention to detail, and optimum conditions to be successful. The following are some of the factors that need to be checked for adequate curing.
When curing marijuana, darkness is an essential element as it guarantees your buds remain THC-rich. Many consumers love cannabis for the experience it offers. Light can threaten that experience as it breaks down cannabinoids and deactivates essential terpenes production and emission. In short, light exposure will alter the compound composition of the weed. Ensure you store your buds in a dark place like a cupboard or use a Miron glass jar.
The ideal temperature for curing weed is 70°F (21°C). Extreme deviation from said temperature will compromise the potency of your buds. Heat gradually carboxylates/converts THCA (acid precursor of THC) to THC. Further exposure to high temperature degrades THC into CBN, a compound known as the relaxation cannabinoid.
Compared to cold air, warm or hot air contains more moisture. This can lead to bud rot when air enters the curing containers during burping (more on this later). If you live in areas where the temperatures are extremely high, consider investing in an air conditioning unit.
This piece strongly emphasizes on correctly drying your cannabis because moisture-filled buds will grow mold when placed inside a curing container. This is worsened if the humidity levels of the curing room are elevated. High humidity creates the perfect breeding conditions for mold and harmful pathogens.
If during the curing stage you open the jars and experience an ammonia-like smell emanating from the buds, do not close the lid. Regulate the humidity levels to 45% to 55% until the buds are sufficiently dried. Get rid of the destroyed buds, if there are any, and continue with the curing process.
On the other hand, curing extremely dried buds will not create smoke-worthy flowers. Instead, you will get an unpleasantly harsh smoke. The ideal humidity level for curing cannabis is 60% to 65%. Without further ado, let’s dive into the curing process.
How to cure weed
You are ready. It’s time to know how to cure cannabis. At this point, you know everything you need to know about curing marijuana. All you need is the procedure, which is exhaustively discussed below. Here are the tools and equipment you will need;
- Perfectly dried cannabis flowers. If you hadn’t trimmed your buds before drying, this is the right time to do so. Get rid of the excess sugar leaves and leave behind a perfectly manicured flower.
- Airtight container.
- Thermo hygrometer to measure humidity and temperature simultaneously.
- Air conditioning unit (if you live in areas with extreme temperatures.
Curing cannabis in an airtight container
Learning about how to cure weed is a straightforward process. Pick a container to put your buds in. You can use a variety of vessels, such as ceramic, wood, and metal containers. However, the recommended container is a mason jar. Avoid plastic bags as they can allow air penetration, which can compromise the quality of the buds. Additionally, mason jars are see-through and will allow you to monitor the flowers in real-time.
When placing the buds inside the container, ensure it fills up to the ¾ mark (75%) to allow unrestricted airflow. Shake the jar and study the sound the buds make. The flowers are ready for the curing process if they make a rattling sound. If they clump together, you need to repeat the drying process as going further will lead to bud rot.
Maintain optimum temperature and humidity
Once you stash the buds inside the jars, keep them in a dark place. Temperatures should be 70°F, while humidity should range from 60% to 65% inside the jars. Use the thermo hygrometer to ensure the conditions remain constant throughout the curing process.
The Process of Burping cannabis
Within the first two weeks, the moisture content in the buds is roughly around 20% to 25%. This means that as they gradually go through the curing process, the moisture will be emitted and will fill the mason jar. This is where burping cannabis or the expulsion of air from the jar will help maintain ideal humidity levels. You need to open the jars twice a day for 30 minutes as you inspect the buds for any issues. During this time, the moisture-rich air is replaced with fresh air.
Always keep an eye on the thermo hygrometer reading. A reading deviating from the norm requires immediate action. With high humidity, you need to open the lids for up to 3 hours to allow the excess moisture to escape. If the humidity reading is lower than expected, stop the burping sessions until there is an increase. Consider placing a humidity pack inside the mason jars displaying low humidity if this doesn’t work.
After the 2nd week, you can begin burping the cannabis once a day. By the beginning of the 3rd week, the buds will require burping once every few days.
How long should a curing process take
It depends on the cultivator. The buds are ready for consumption after the 2nd week. Most people cure their cannabis for 4 to 8 weeks. More patient growers prolong the process for up to 6 months or more. There is no standardized time frame; however, the more time it takes to cure the buds, the more flavorful, potent, and aromatic they become.
Storing your cured cannabis flowers
As mentioned earlier, curing cannabis extends its shelf life. You can store the buds for up to 2 years under optimum storage conditions without significantly compromising on their potency. Store the flowers in a cool dark place as mold, mildew, and other pathogens flourish in temperatures ranging from 77 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Helpful tip: if you are growing various strains simultaneously, ensure they are separated throughout the drying and curing process. Label the jars with the strain’s name and relevant dates to avoid mixing them up.
Curing weed is a simple process that enhances your buds’ flavor, aroma, and potency. In order to successfully cure your cannabis, you need to conduct thorough drying. If the buds have excess moisture during the curing stage, they become susceptible to bud rot and other pathogens. While most people cure cannabis for 4 to 8 weeks, some take 2 weeks, and others go past the 6-month pack. After the curing process is complete, store your buds in a cool, dry, and dark place.