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How to Sous Vide Your Own Medical Marijuana Edibles

If there is one thing an immersion circulator is good for, it is infusions. The precise temperature of the water bath gives you greater control over your results, and allows you to basically “fix it and forget it.” This is good for extracting all kinds of things, but today we’re going to extract some THC.

This post is the fifth in Lifehacker’s Green Week , a series where we’re discussing medical marijuana, its benefits, drawbacks, and everything you need to know. Keep in mind, we’re not doctors, so you should check with yours before trying it, and similarly, obey the laws and regulations in your area regarding the procurement and use of medical marijuana.

I’ve never been hugely into edibles, because I do not enjoy the taste of weed, but they do seem to be fairly effective. A good edible depends on good THC extraction, so my Anova Precision Cooker seemed like a pretty good fit for this particular job. To test out this theory, I tried a few different recipes. Let’s see how it all turned out, shall we? (Note: If you are unsure about the legality of marijuana in your state, consult this map , and be sure to read up and follow your local laws and regulations, also be sure to check out our guide on how to use medical marijuana safely and responsibly .)

How to Use Medical Marijuana Safely and Responsibly

Medical marijuana is a safe alternative treatment option (by comparison), but it’s still a powerful

But First, You Must Decarb

For the most effective extraction, you’re going to need to decarb your weed. “Decarbing” has nothing to do with carbohydrates. It’s short for “ decarboxylating ,” which is a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide, converting THCA ( Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid ) to THC ( Tetrahydrocannabinol ). This process takes place slowly as the pot flowers dry out, but you can speed it up with the application of heat. Before you ask, there is no need to decarb pot you’re going to smoke, as the heat from the act of smoking takes care of that.

You can decarb your weed in the oven, but that can be kind of stinky, and the whole point of this article is to speed up the process and utilize our handy sous vide. To get started, simply grind up your marijuana and place it in a sealable plastic bag. (Note: this will pretty much ruin your spice orcoffee grinder for all other applications, so prepare for that.) According to Sousweed , you’ll want to set your immersion circulator to 95ºC (203ºF) and submerge the weed-dust containing baggies for about an hour. Your weed will then be THC-ful, and ready for whatever edible recipe you wish to use it in.

Fatty Friends

Once you know how to infuse one fatty substance, you can pretty much infuse them all, and Sousweed can walk you through the process. Butter, olive oil, lard, and coconut oil all infuse at 85ºC (185ºF), it’s just a matter of how long you leave them in there. Besides coconut oil (which has a ratio of 8 ounces coconut oil for 1 ounce cannabis) the ratio for pretty much any cooking fat is 16 ounces of fat or oil for every ounce of decarboxylated cannabis.

Decarb your ground up flowers as described above, stir them into some melted butter or liquid oil (in a sealable plastic bag or mason jar), and let it hang out in nice, warm, 85ºC-bath for four hours. Remove, let cool until you can handle it, and strain through a fine mesh sieve.

I decided to go with butter, since I always have butter, and scaled it down to 4 ounces with a ¼ ounce of marijuana. I wouldn’t use a pricey butter here, because any subtlety of flavor is going to get completely obscured. The result was a very potent spread that tasted strongly of cannabis. If you like how weed tastes, you will like how this tastes. If you do not like how weed tastes, then you will be upset that you wasted both marijuana and butter. (I kind of was, to be totally frank.) Of course, there are ways to obscure the flavor. Chocolate and sugar are pretty good choices, and these DIY Samoas look like heaven.

Start by making a simple shortbread with THC-infused butter , then drizzle on melted dark chocolate, caramel, and shredded, sweetened coconut.

If you want to play around and devise your own edible recipes, be sure to keep a couple of things in mind:

  • First, pay attention to dosage. Depending on the potency of the marijuana you’re using, you may not want to do cup for cup substitutions of cannabutter for regular. If you’re monitoring your dosages closely, like we discussed earlier this week, you don’t want to overdo it. If you’re not sure how to figure that out, let this handy calculator help you .
  • Secondly,don’t bake your treats at temperatures over 340ºF. Doing so will degrade your THC, making your edible less potent.
Make Better Marijuana Edibles with These Tips from a Weed Chef

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Dangerous Dulce Dip

Another sweet treat you can whip up is that ol’ Lifehacker favorite, easy dulce de leche (caramel dip, to be honest). It’s not as fatty as the above, and it takes a little longer to infuse, but the result is a very strong and very sweet dipping sauce.

Make a No Fuss Caramel Dip with a Can of Condensed Milk and a Crock Pot

Want a delicious caramel dip for apples, or to pour over baked goods or ice cream? Sure, you can…

How strong you ask? It’s “am I moving my face correctly while I wait in line to order this burrito strong.” It gets the job done, is what I’m saying. To make this dangerous dip, simply crush and decarb your flowers as instructed above, then swirl it into a jar of sweetened condensed milk (Sousweed recommends a ratio of ⅛ ounces of weed with for one 12-ounce jar of condensed milk. I do not recommend exceeding that ratio.) Let it hang out at 85ºC bath for six hours and remove. In terms of straining out the plant parts, I found that they pretty much all float to the top during the infusion process, so just scrape them off and toss ‘em. Spread that stuff on an apple, stir it into some iced coffee, or just eat it with a spoon, but be careful.

Mix Vices

It’s no secret that my favorite infusions are alcoholic. While I usually prefer using my Anova to infuse alcohol with flavor (as I did in the Great Sous Vide Gin Experiment ), it can also be used to infuse vodka (or any alcohol really) with dankness.

Before we begin though, we should note: proceed cautiously. Alcohol should be consumed responsibly in the first place, even more so when infused with weed, and obviously do not do this or anything like this if you’re not at least 21 years old and it’s legal in your state or region, okay?

Now, the procedure similar to the two above, only it requires less weed (one gram per 250 mL of vodka) and it infuses much faster. Just mix your decarbed weed in a mason jar with your alcohol of choice, and sous vide at 95ºC for a couple of hours.

In terms of dosage, I would start with a couple of tablespoons and go from there, as this stuff is pretty strong. (It’s not quite “what am I doing with my face” strong, but it’s “you definitely should not have texted that dude back” strong.) I also wouldn’t use a particularly nice spirit for this, as the pot is going to completely obscure the flavor. If you want to add just a little bit of THC magic to your cocktail, I suggest using your infusion as a basis for bitters.

How to Make Your Own Bitters for a Signature Stamp on Every Cocktail

Any bar worth its rimming salt should be stocked with at least a couple of bottles of bitters.…

To learn the finer points of DIY bitters, check out our complete guide here , but the short version is this:

  1. Find some spices, herbs, or dried fruit that you think would complement the taste of weed.
  2. Put a couple of teaspoons of each flavoring in its own little jar and cover it with a neutral spirit.
  3. Shake the jars once a day, tasting every couple of days to see how they’re coming along. (A couple of drops in glass of seltzer should give you a good idea). Once they’re flavorful, strain out the plant parts.
  4. Mix your variously flavored tinctures with your pot-infused vodka. Funnel into cute little dropper bottles and add a couple of drops to any beverage you feel would benefit from a little tender love and THC.

Here’s another idea for your THC-ethanol hybrid: Soak some gummy bears in that elixir! According to the website Mix That Drink , just place your favorite gummy bears, worms, or cola bottles in a bowl and pour enough vodka over them to cover. How long you let them sit is up to you. They’ll continue to expand up to the 20 hour mark, but they may be a bit slimy for your taste. I like soaking mine for about 12; they’re pretty big by that point, but haven’t begun to degrade yet. Fish your swollen, gelatinous friends out of their vodka bath, and serve.

Overall, I feel pretty confident in recommending sous vide as a method of THC extraction. It’s easy, it’s effective, and it results in a product that will make you question what exactly your lips are doing while you wait in line for a burrito.

Claire is the Senior Food Editor for Lifehacker and a noted duck fat enthusiast. She lives in Portland, Oregon with a slightly hostile cat.

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DISCUSSION

Wow, I had no idea you had these kinds of skills! Every Friday you surprise me.

You’re a true alchemist, and a benefactor of humanity.

Unfortunately I have to wait until my state catches up with the XXI century to try these recipes (since I have no *cough cough* medical condition to justify them).

So. did Kinja pay for your “research expenses”? Ha ha ha.

ETA: let me suggest an alternative potion for your alcoholic infusions. The cheapest brandy (for example, E&J VS) is actually pretty decent, and much better-tasting than cheap vodka.

No, it’s not a sipping beverage, but it’s a viable mixer and macerator, marries fruit better than grain alcohol (because it’s fruit alcohol), has no bitter aftertaste, and its rotgut score is ZERO— yes, it’s absolutely drinkable.

I insist on the cheapest versions because the ones that cost $1 or $2 extra (VSOP, etc., lololol) will have shitty overpowering vanilla and caramel flavors which I strongly suspect are artificially added; whereas the cheaper bottle will have a wilder alcohol burn but actually tastes natural (with a faint bit of oak). Add some cherries (or weed, or whatever) and you’re gold.

If there is one thing an immersion circulator is good for, it is infusions. The precise temperature of the water bath gives you greater control over your results, and allows you to basically “fix it and forget it.” This is good for extracting all kinds of things, but today we’re going to extract some THC.

The best damn cannabutter recipe, according to me

By Nicholas Nedin , Feb 26 2020

“Good butter makes every batch of cookies the best batch of cookies.”
– Christina Tosi

I’ve always found the most important recipes, in my life, were vague suggestions: A list of ingredients, sparse instruction, an unspoken dare to replicate an experience.

Learning how to make cannabutter was the opposite of that experience. It was information overload.

Six years ago, my partner and I set a goal to make the best cannabis-infused cookie we could. What we learned very quickly was that our cookie recipe was great, but the process of infusing our butter was damaging its integrity. So we set out to find a way to infuse butter—not for maximum potency—but for the best possible flavour, and to preserve what makes butter magic. (Now there are people “reading” this column who are going to subtweet about how writing a primer on cannabutter is being non-inclusive for vegans, and that would be correct: this piece is going to have more butter love than a Bertolucci film, kids, so bear down.)

What the fuck is butter?

As briefly as possible, butter is a byproduct of the fats and proteins found in milk and cream. Most butter North Americans know comes from cows, however, butter can be derived from the cream or milk of sheep, goat, yak, and bison. These fats and proteins are then mechanically mixed (churned) and a uniform product is then portioned, packaged, and sent to your local grocery store.

Butter in a more technical sense is an emulsion of fats and proteins that stays semi-solid at room temperature and begins to melt at around 90 degrees F. As you raise the temperature of butter to near 120 degrees F, you will begin to notice a white foam forming at the top of the butter. These are the proteins in the butter separating from the pure butter fat. This separation process is known as clarification, which we will touch on later.

Why does most cannabutter taste like Swamp Thing’s taint?

What I have found in picking through hundreds of recipes for cannabutter, is that there are totally understandable utilitarian goals which underpin these recipes. I am not inferring that these techniques are wrong, they just come from a different perspective.

First, these recipes endeavour to maximize the cannabinoid content of the butter, something I think we can all agree is an important goal for many patients making edibles at home. If you pile a bunch of trim into a slow cooker and leave it simmering overnight, one can make some rocketfuel potency cannabutter. There is nothing wrong with that, it’s just not what I am looking for in an edible experience.

Second, these recipes find uses for the cannabinoid-bearing parts of the plant that are less prized than the flower. Popcorn buds, trim, kief, sugar leaves, all of these byproducts of the process need to be used somehow and moving these cannabinoid-bearing assets into edibles is a great way to maximize the profitability of one’s harvest. Eliminating waste is a basic tenet we should all have and it’s admirable.

Third, many of these recipes are one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t really take into account what kind of lipid is being used. Butter, unlike coconut oil or olive oil, has pesky proteins which can burn during the infusion process, and they tend to take on some of the more “dank” flavours from the cannabis.

What I do differently

When I am making cannabutter, I have different goals than most home cooks. My goal is to create a less potent but more flavourful butter, which expresses at least some of the flavour profiles found in the cannabis I am infusing. I find that this generally expresses in a golden brown butter with delicate nutty flavour backbone and usually citric, spicy, or herbaceous notes depending on the plant matter.

Your butter will take on flavour based on the type of cannabis you’re using.(Add Weed photo via Unsplash)

The flower

I also use flower for my edibles. Rarely do I use trim or kief, as I find those substances can impart some of those more off-putting flavours. Along those same lines, I do not grind my flower at any point in the process. (This does limit the potency potential of the final product, but I have found that the reduction in potency is relatively small.)

For the purposes of safety, I also check all of my flower before decarb with a loupe (a small magnifying glass) to make sure there is no mold or botrytis visible. Mycotoxins are serious business and it’s not uncommon to find mold in any supply chain.

I have tried numerous decarboxylation methods but I find doing the decarboxylation (converting the non-intoxicating compound THCA found in cannabis to its active form, THC) in a closed vessel (like a Dutch oven) at 240 degrees F for one hour to be the best. Then the closed vessel should sit at room temperature for an additional hour to cool, and to allow any vapour to condense back into the flower.

The butter

I like to use the best possible butter when infusing. I have had a longtime love affair with Amish Roll butter which generally comes in at about 85 to 88 per cent milk fat. I then take that butter and clarify it by slowly heating it to about 120 degrees and skimming off the milk solids which rise to the top. Generally this process takes about 35 minutes of skimming but the clarified butter really does deliver a better flavoured, more potent infusion.

The infusion method

I personally use a sous vide method with an immersion circulator and mason jars. I find this gives me both the ability to precisely control the temperature of my infusion and to infuse multiple different cultivars at the same time. However, if you have a MagicalButter Machine or prefer a simple bain-marie method these are all great ways to infuse at home with considerably less mess and complication. (A bain-marie is also known as a water bath or double boiler. It uses the heat of a water bath to evenly transmit heat into a container—in this case, a mason jar).

Ingredients and equipment

  • 28 g decarboxylated whole cannabis flower
  • 500 g liquid clarified butter (The best quality butter you can find)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower lecithin
  • Mason jar(s)
  • Immersion circulator (or MagicalButter, or bain-marie)
  • Deep pot
  • Instant read thermometer
  • Silicone gloves or heat pads
  • Silicone spatula
  • 2 medium saucepans
  • Fine sieve
  • Mircon filter bag (or cheese cloth)
  • Food syringe
  • Silicone molds
  • TCheck UV spectrometer
  • Large Ziplock freezer bags

1. Preparation

I like to have all of my ingredients laid out in my workspace from the beginning. In French kitchens this is called “mise en place”, or putting in place. I always find doing this step allows me to keep a clean and sanitary workspace, and it ends up saving time in the long run.

Butter, pre-infusion. (Ponce Photography photo via Pixabay)

Put the decarbed cannabis into the mason jar. Then, pour the liquid butter over the cannabis, afix the lid of the jar, and tighten.

In a deep pot filled with hot water, begin your immersion circulator at 160 degrees F. If you are using a water bath method use your instant read thermometer to get a temperature reading in your slow cooker or in the oven. Keep in mind, most oven temperatures are wildly inaccurate and can vary in different spots in your oven. (I have a thermometer that lives in my oven because I have trust issues.)

Over a saucepan place a fine mesh sieve with cheese clothes or a micron filter. I really love the MagicalButter Micron bag, I was given one for a gift over five years ago and it’s still performing admirably after hundreds of uses. This will be your filtration station.

On a sheet pan, lay out some silicone molds. I like these ones as they hold about 20 millilitres of liquid, so it’s a very good vessel for 15-milligram portions.

2. Infusion

Light a joint, put on a playlist (see below), find a comfy chair, dance around your kitchen, do whatever you want, but every 20 minutes, check your thermometer and make sure that your infusion is hanging out somewhere around 160 degrees. You can also carefully flip the jar to make sure the plant matter is getting fully submerged in butter. Do not shake the jars! I repeat, keep checking your temperature, but also enjoy the two hours of minimal work.

3. Fining and filtration

When your infusion is done, slowly pour the contents of your mason jars into your cheesecloth or micron bag, which should be sitting on top of the strainer. The liquid butter will run through the layers of filtration into the saucepan. Any butter which runs freely through the filter should be collected and put aside. This first run of butter is going to taste the best and should be reserved for sauces and more delicately flavoured baking (think shortbread).

Swapping in your second saucepan you can now gently press the wet plant matter against the filter. I like to use a silicone spatula to do this pressing because it allows for a more gentle pressure. You will notice a much darker coloured butter from this technique. This infused butter will taste a little more “weedy and dank”, and it is best used in something with a stronger flavour, like chocolate or cheese.

4. Analysis, packaging, and storage

Once I have filtered my butter, my next step is analysis. I take small samples from both runs of butter and use my TCheck Uv Spectrometer, which gives me a reasonably accurate representation of the cannabinoid content of the butter.

I then use a food syringe to measure out 15-milligram portions of liquid butter and carefully dispense the butter into individual cavities of my silicone molds. This gives an accurately portioned and dosed butter pate. Once the molds are filled, put them in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up. Once firm, pop the butter pates out of the mold.

For storage, I like to use Ziplock freezer bags. They protect reasonably well against freezer burn and are easy to suck the air out of before popping into the freezer. I always package my two runs separately as they taste differently and generally have different potencies. Freezing the butter adds considerably to its shelf life. I generally would never leave infused butter in the freezer for more than three to four months, but I have heard people keeping cannabutter in the freezer for over a year with no ill effects.

Recipes have flash forwards, right?

As you may have noticed, the above recipe is partially incomplete. We left off with these awesome little pates of infused clarified butter that were stored in a Ziplock bag beside the ice cream in the freezer. And knowing what you now know about butter, this infused butter is missing its milk solids, which are paramount for butter reacting like butter in any recipe.

So, let’s flash forward to a future mac and cheese recipe. I am making an infused bechamel sauce that calls for 112 grams of butter. Assume that I have been on top of things and I have grabbed two of those 15-gram cubes and allowed them to soften on my kitchen counter overnight. I then add 82 grams of softened, non-infused butter to my 30 grams of infused butter, and do my very best to blend them into a uniform mixture. I now have a cannabutter that can do everything that butter can do, with a subtle cannabis flavour and lots of THC.

This technique also makes dosing much easier. Say your infused butter came in at 10 milligrams per millilitre of THC. You can quickly figure out the potency of your recipe by multiplying that 10 milligrams per millilitre by 30 grams of infused butter. This means 300 milligrams of THC is going into this recipe. You can then divide by the number of servings and you can easily figure your potency per serving. In this case, the recipe makes eight servings, which would give a potency of 37.5 milligrams of THC per serving.

Now, is this recipe overly complicated? Probably—it involves time travel—but it’s also better than a list of ingredients, sparse instructions, and a dare.

So we set out to find a way to infuse butter—not for maximum potency—but for the best possible flavour, and to preserve what makes butter magic.