March 29, 2021 // Rachel Burkons

How To Cook With Cannabis Concentrates

How To Cook With Cannabis Concentrates
When it comes to cooking with cannabis at home, we tend to talk a lot about flower-based infusions for oils and butters, and for good reason – for decades, cannabis flower was more accessible than more complex extracts made from the plant. But in today’s modern cannabis marketplace, we have more options for concentrates and extracts than ever, and there’s no reason cannabis concentrates can’t be a cornerstone of your culinary cannabis repertoire. And if the thought of using concentrates to make infusions seems foreign to you, consider this: Commercially produced edibles are infused using concentrates. If you’ve eaten an edible from a dispensary, you’ve eaten a concentrate infusion! Manufactured edibles are made this way because not only is bulk production of cannabis butter and oil infused with flower impractical and imprecise, but using concentrates like distillate to make commercially infused products is more time- and cost-efficient.

Why Cannabis Concentrates?

As a home cannabis user, there are a few reasons to explore using cannabis concentrates as opposed to flower in your infusions. First, they’re concentrated! Very small amounts of cannabis concentrates can go a long way in terms of creating potent infusions and fine-tuned precision dosing. Second, working with concentrates results in lighter-tasting, cleaner infusions. When using flower for infusions, you’re working with the full plant material, and infusions can pull unwanted compounds like chlorophyll from the plant, resulting in the signature “weedy” flavor and dark green infusions. Concentrates, on the other hand, have been processed to separate the oils from the plant material, and can result in less vegetal-tasting, lighter infusions. Third, some concentrates are made in a way that give you access to all of the plant’s compounds, harvested and preserved at the peak of their freshness, which means you’re able to capture all of the cannabinoids and terpenes in your infusions when working with certain products.

Distillate vs. Live Resin

Because there are so many different kinds of concentrates, infusions can vary widely in flavor, cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Using distillate, for example, results in a mostly flavorless THC-only infusion, as all other compounds are stripped from the oil in the extraction process. Using a live resin, on the other hand, will result in a more balanced infusion. This concentrate is made by freezing fresh cannabis plants immediately after harvesting them rather than allowing the flower to go through the drying and curing process first. This allows the extract to retain a full cannabinoid, flavonoid and terpene profile, so when you use live resin in your infusions, you’re able to capture the specific profile of a cultivar, allowing for strain-specific infusions. Full extract oils will also result in a more intense cannabis flavor. Terpenes themselves are astringent and bitter, so consider the final product you’re infusing when working with full-spectrum concentrates. 

How To Do It

When working with cannabis flower, your first step is an important one: Decarboxylation! This process activates the cannabinoids by applying a little heat for a short period of time (read our full decarbing guide here!). Decarbing is an essential step in cooking with concentrates too, but again, it’s important to consider the product you’re working with. Concentrates like distillate have been made by applying heat, so these products do not need to be decarbed; others like wax, shatter, crumble or budder need to be decarbed. Decarbing concentrates is also different in that you’re working with a highly-meltable material rather than flower. You may want to create a little parchment paper “boat” to ensure your concentrates don’t slide off as you move them in and out of the oven. Decarb at a low temperature of 200 degrees in the middle of your oven for about 20 minutes. Watch your concentrates – when they’re bubbling a lot, they’re ready. You’ll want to pour from the paper while still warm, so have a jar nearby and ready to go. You may also decarb concentrates using a water bath: Simply place the concentrate in a boilable pouch, and boil for 90 minutes.

Mixing It Up

While your decarbed concentrates are in their more pliable liquid form, you may immediately stir them into oils for seamless infusions. Avocado oil, MCT oil and (liquid, unrefined) coconut oil are carrier fats that work really well for this technique. Combine small quantities of these oils for concentrated infusions that can be delivered drop-by-drop to nearly anything for easy potent dosing in everything from salad dressings to your morning juice. You may also keep decarbed crumble or shatter in a jar and keep it in your cannabis pantry as a special little addition that you can stir small amounts of directly into food you’re cooking, whether you’re stirring into a hot pot of soup, or mixing it in with a pasta sauce. As always, when cooking with cannabis, be mindful of temperatures, as cannabinoids begin to degrade above 300-degreees or so. Once your concentrate-based infusion is complete, as always, consider your dose and consume mindfully!