If you want to grow your own cannabis at home, you'll need to learn about the growing and harvesting process. The next thing you'll need to educate yourself on is drying and curing your flower when you harvest it. If you don't cure your cannabis properly, you'll have wasted all the care and labor that went into growing those beautiful buds, and you'll have to do it all over again.
Drying and Curing Cannabis
Some people tend to confuse drying cannabis with curing it. They are actually two different steps in this part of the process. Drying is exactly that: drying the cannabis. Removing the moisture from the plant material is important to prevent spoilage due to mold growth, and it makes it smokable. Simply drying the buds is enough for some people to be happy, but true top-shelf cannabis must also be perfectly cured.
Why Should You Cure Your Cannabis?
Curing is the process of letting the cannabis age in glass jars, sometimes for weeks, before certain chemicals produced by the drying process have degraded. The curing process reduces the harshness of the smoke and causes the buds to smell and taste better. By curing in glass jars, you're preserving the terpenes that make cannabis taste great.
The curing process also causes the buds to become more complex and potent over time as the cannabinoids present in fresh buds convert from cannabergerol (CBG) to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). You'll increase the shelf life of your cannabis by curing it. You could be able to keep your buds fresh and free of mold for up to a year if you store it properly.
To recap, here are the basic reasons to cure your cannabis:
- It preserves terpenes and taste
- Increases potency
- Reduces harshness of smoke
- Reduces the opportunity for mold to grow
What You Need to Cure Cannabis
When curing cannabis, you'll need a few things to do it properly.
Wide mouthed mason jars
Wide mouthed jars are the best for storage. You should get the 1 quart (32oz) size for this. They usually come in packs of 12. Jars this size hold around an ounce, depending on how big your buds are.
A drying rack
A drying rack might be necessary if you’re drying a lot in a small space.
A hygrometer keeps an accurate measurement of the humidity in the jar, so your buds cure properly.
How to Dry Cannabis
How you harvest your plant is an important part of this process. You may cut branches off of your cannabis plants and dry them that way, or you can cut and dry the entire plant at once. Some growers cut the buds off and put them on drying racks. Some trim their buds before drying, others don’t. This is up to you.
What stays the same is the conditions in which you dry your cannabis. You must do this in a dark room between 60°F and 70°F with the humidity between 45 and 55 percent. You’ll need a fan to move the air around in the space. Without a fan, it will take longer for your cannabis to dry, and it gives mold spores the opportunity to settle on your buds.
If you’re using a fan, don’t point it directly at the drying cannabis. Point it at a wall. All you’re trying to do is create air circulation around the buds, not forcefully dry them with the fan. Fans should be used with care, because they can over-dry your harvest.
Where Should I Dry Cannabis?
Dry your buds in a place that’s easy for you to get to so you can check on it every day.
There are various things that you can use to help control the temperature and the humidity of your drying environment.
You may need one or more of the following to achieve your desired temperature and humidity:
- Dehumidifier - Raises temperature, reduces humidity
- Humidifier - Raises temperature, increases humidity
- Heater - Raises temperature, decreases humidity
- Air Conditioner - Reduces temperature, reduces humidity
- Evaporative Cooler - Reduces temperature, increases humidity
If you’ve dried your cannabis while it's still attached to the branches, you can tell that it’s ready when you can fold the stems and they break instead of bend. The buds should feel dry to the touch.
Jar your buds as soon as they feel dry. Under normal conditions, it should take between 5 and 15 days for drying to be done. You should check your cannabis daily after day 5 for the stems to be ready, or for the buds to be dry to your touch. Don't jar any buds that feel damp. Let them continue to dry out.
If you've ever had "brick weed", you've experienced what cannabis cured in a wet environment is like. The effects are different, and bud cured this way is an inferior smoke.
How To Cure Cannabis
If you haven’t trimmed your buds yet, now is the time to do it. You’re ready to put them into their proper glass storage container at this point.
Don’t pack the buds tightly in the glass container. There should be room for air to flow around them. When you're done packing, you should have some space for air at the top of the jar and if you shake it, the buds should be able to move around somewhat freely. They shouldn't be sticking together; if they are, leave the lid off to let them dry out some more.
Burp the Containers and Inspect Your Weed
After your buds are packed and their containers sealed, you should place them in a cool, dark location. You need to “burp” the containers a few times a day to let moisture out and let fresh air back inside.
After you’ve opened the containers a few times a day for the first week, you should only have to open them once every few days for the remainder of the curing process.
How Long Should I Cure My Cannabis?
You should keep your cannabis stored in this manner for 2 to 3 weeks at a minimum. Optimally you want to cure for at least 4 to 8 weeks. Curing can go on for as long as 6 months — if you have that kind of time to wait.