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 an important process?
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 5 -10 days. Curing marijuana is an vital 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 the bud a much smoother smoke. 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 will not develop and compromise its quality.
When should you start curing cannabis?
You can begin curing your cannabis immediately after the drying stage is complete. Drying your cannabis properly is essential and a successful drying process will make curing your bud much easier to execute. If the flowers aren’t sufficiently dried, it can lead to mold developing while the bud is being cured. Although if the buds are too dry this can negatively affect the compounds (cannabinoids and terpenes), which leads to lower potency levels and a lack of flavour. So before you start the curing process, make sure you read our full guide on how to properly dry your cannabis.
What are the ideal conditions 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.
Cure cannabis in a dark room
When curing marijuana, darkness is an essential element as it guarantees your buds remain THC-rich. Light can cause the buds to deteriorate by breaking down cannabinoids and terpenes production and emission. In short, light exposure will alter the compound composition of the weed reducing taste, smell and potency. Ensure you store your buds in a dark place like a cupboard or use a glass mason jar.
What is the ideal temperature for curing marijuana?
The ideal temperature for curing weed is 70°F (21°C). Deviation from this temperature will compromise the potency and overall quality of your buds. Exposure to high temperature degrades THC into CBN, two of the main compounds within cannabis that give it its psychoactive effects.
Warm air contains more moisture than cold air so its important to keep tabs on the temperature of your curing space. If excess moisture manages to get into the curing jars it can quite quickly lead to the development of mold. If you live in areas where the temperatures are extremely high, consider investing in an air conditioning unit.
What is the ideal humidity for curing weed?
The ideal humidity level for curing cannabis is 55% to 65%.
It is very important that your bud has been thoroughly dried before the curing process begins. Any excess moisture in the buds could be a catalyst for mold developing. 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. Dispose of the affected buds and take the bud out of the jars to air dry for 1 to 2 days before starting the process again.
What is burping weed and how does it improve taste?
Cannabis plants naturally contain chlorophyll, CO2 and sugar, all of which are vital to the plant while its growing, but after you have harvested your bud, they leave a bitter vegetal taste behind if you smoke it without thoroughly curing first.
Burping weed is a vital step of the curing process that helps to improve the taste, potency and smell of your weed by breaking down and reducing the amount of chlorophyll, CO2 and sugar left in the bud.
How bacteria aids the process of burping weed
When you store your bud inside a container to cure it, it removes the airflow from around the bud and allows aerobic bacteria begin digesting chlorophyll and metabolising other sugars found within the bud.
Aerobic bacteria are bacteria that grow and live when oxygen is present. What we do not want is for anaerobic bacteria to come into play. Anaerobic bacteria are often the sign of mold and give off a distinctive smell of ammonia. If you open the jar and smell ammonia take the buds out, inspect them for mold and leave them to air dry for a little longer before replacing them inside the jar.
The process of burping weed
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, gas and moisture are expelled from the bud and begin to fill the sealed jar. This is where burping or the expulsion of air from the jar will help maintain ideal humidity levels and reduce CO2 in the bud.
You need to open the jars once to twice a day for 10 – 20 minutes as you inspect the buds for any issues. During this time, the moisture-rich air inside the jar is replaced with fresh air.
Always keep an eye on the thermo hygrometer reading (humidity monitor and thermometer). A reading deviating from the norm requires immediate action. With high humidity, you may 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 just once every few days.
How to cure cannabis step-by-step
What do you need before you can start?
Perfectly dried cannabis flowers: If you didn’t trim your buds before drying them, now is the time to do so. Get rid of the excess sugar leaves so that you are left with a perfectly dried and manicured flower.
Airtight container: You will need an airtight contain such as a mason jar or click lock Tupperware box (although glass is preferred).
Humidity monitor: This is not an essential piece of equipment, but it will help you to reduce the risk of mold developing. Use a thermo hygrometer to measure humidity and temperature simultaneously.
Temperature control: If you live in a particularly hot country you may need an air conditioning unit to effectively control the temperature.
Step 1: Clean your container with warm water and soap to make sure it is bacteria free before placing your buds inside. Thoroughly dry it, even a slight bit of water could cause mold so I recommend drying it with a cloth and then leaving it for a few hours to air dry to make sure no moisture is left inside the container.
Step 2: Now that your container is clean and 100% dry, place your buds inside the container, leaving at least 1-2 inches at the top to allow for airflow and room for you to be able to shake the jar to move the buds around.
Step 3: Seal them inside the jar and store the jar in a cool, dry, dark place such as a cupboard for 24 hours.
Step 4: Now that the buds have been left to cure for 1 day, open the container for between 10 – 20 minutes twice each day to allow the build up of gas and moisture to escape, this is called burping weed. Use this as an opportunity to inspect your buds for mold or excess moisture. Gently feel your buds, if they feel particularly moist take them out and dry them a little more before replacing them to be cured them. Once the bud has been aired for at least 10 minutes, reseal the container, give it a shake to move the buds about and place it back in your cupboard until the following day. Repeat this process every day for the first week.
Step 5: After the first week you can begin burping your cannabis once per day and by the third and final week cut down to once every two days.
How long should the curing process take
It depends on the cultivator. The buds are ready for consumption after the 2nd week. Most people cure their cannabis for 3 to 6 weeks. More patient growers prolong the process for up to 6 months or more. There is no standardized time frame; however, the longer the time spent on curing, the more flavorful, potent, and aromatic the buds 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, dry place inside an airtight container such as a mason jar.
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 the flavor, aroma, and potency of your bud. 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 and your top shelf weed should now stay fresher for much longer.
Hend Elsaghir and Anil Kumar Reddy Reddivari (2020). Bacteroides Fragilis. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553032/.