Serious cannabis growers know that curing weed is the single most important step towards creating high-quality buds. Curing is not an essential part of the production of marijuana, but it’s necessary if you want your weed to taste good and last long. The difference in flavor between weed that has been carefully cured and weed that has only been dried is huge. Experienced users know this, and many of them strongly prefer cured weed.
Growing cannabis is a lot like growing any other plant – it needs care and devotion, but overall, it’s not a difficult process. However, with marijuana, curing can make a difference. Even if the crops you just grew are perfect at harvest, if not cured properly, their quality will lower significantly.
Therefore, proper curing is very important, and it’s the topic for today’s article. Let us introduce you to the basics of curing and how you can cure cannabis successfully and get some pretty dank weed.
Curing Cannabis – What It Is and Why It’s Good for Weed
Simply said, curing is preserving your frosty buds so they can be safely stored for months at a time, and sometimes even years, without spoiling. Essentially, the curing process involves prolonged removal of excess moisture from the buds, and it usually takes weeks. This requires patience as you’ll probably be impatient to try the fruits of your labor, but when you give it some time, the results are so much worth it.
This process is also more than just preserving weed, and it has many other benefits for the buds (think aging wine or cheese).
For one, curing weed allows for unnecessary starches, sugars, and other byproducts released in the drying process to be broken down. It also breaks down chlorophyll which automatically improves the taste of the buds as chlorophyll gives a grassy and harsh flavor when you smoke weed.
Proper curing also keeps the terpenes from being destroyed. The terpenes are largely responsible for the unique flavors of the different cannabis strains, but they’re very volatile. When you cure your buds, the slow evaporation of water preserves them while getting rid of all the other unnecessary compounds.
As curing alters the chemical composition of weed for the better, the compounds within the plant start to work better together. The cannabinoids (CBD and THC, especially) further develop and become more potent. The flavor and aroma are enhanced, thereby giving you a better high and fewer headaches, and less anxiety. The smoke is also smoother and more buttery, and way more flavorful.
All in all, with curing, the unique components of cannabis have time to reach their full potential in controlled conditions making the whole experience a whole lot better.
Basic Steps for Proper Curing
After the germination, the planting, and the growing, the harvest sounds like the last step in the process, but it’s not. You’ve done half the job so far and you just need a little more patience before you can fully enjoy the glory of your cured buds.
Before you cure your buds, it’s necessary to dry them. Drying cannabis removes the excess moisture from the surface layers, but the insides of the buds will still stay moist (unless you overdry them, which is not recommended).
Curing marijuana, on the other hand, allows for the moisture within to gradually evaporate by moving through the buds all the way out through the surface layers, preserving all the good stuff.
First Things First – Cannabis Buds Need To Be Slow-Dried Before Curing Them
The drying process begins shortly after you’re done with the harvesting. Once you’ve harvested your buds, you need to trim them. Each grower has their own preferred way of trimming the buds – some prefer to cut individual branches and hang them to dry, while others like to cut only the buds and place them on a rack to dry. This part is totally up to you.
You’ll also need to trim any extra leaves. Most growers trim fan leaves, but sometimes you may want to remove some sugar leaves as well. You don’t have to throw out this plant material, though, as it’s great for infusing oils or making cannabutter. Removing leaves also allows for the buds to dry a little faster as leaves also contain moisture. However, if you live in a dry area, this will prevent the buds from overdrying.
You can hang your buds upside down to dry in your drying area using a common item like a clothes hanger or you can get as creative as you want. If you live in an area with high relative humidity, you can also put them on a drying rack as it won’t let the moisture build up. Drying racks are not recommended for areas with low or average humidity because they will dry the buds too quickly.
The room temperature is also important for drying, as well as the relative humidity levels. The room temperature should be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, while the humidity should be about 50%. If you need to adjust your environment, you can use additional equipment, like an air conditioner, humidifier or dehumidifier, or a heater. If your area is too humid, adding a small fan for extra airflow will definitely help. Just make sure you don’t point the fan directly towards your crops but at a nearby wall.
Finally, you’ll have to wait. Slow drying is the best form of drying weed. It will take anywhere between 3 days to a week for the buds to become ready for curing. Checking on them often and adjusting the temperature and humidity (as needed) is recommended.
Dry cannabis is ready when the smaller stems snap and the larger stems bend. If the smaller stems leave a stringy residue, then you should give them one more day to dry. Incidentally, dry buds with previously trimmed off stems should feel dry to the touch, but they shouldn’t be brittle.
In any case, if you’re not sure, err on the side of moisture, as it’s much easier to remove excess moisture during the curing process than to rehydrate overly dried buds.
Now it’s time for the next step.
After the Drying Process, The Cannabis Curing May Begin
Curing cannabis itself isn’t a difficult process at all, it only requires diligence, and, again, patience. Curing can last anywhere from two weeks minimum, to up to six months for some strains. Most strains, though, will be good enough to smoke after two-three weeks, but the longer you leave the buds to cure, the better – four to eight weeks may be the optimal time.
Start by putting your dried buds in your chosen curing jars. Most growers prefer the wide-mouthed 32oz (one quart) glass mason jars. Their sealing system is pretty tight and the size is also convenient.
Fill the glass jars about 3/4, leaving some room at the top. The buds should move freely when you shake the jar. If they stick together, they probably still have excess moisture and need to be dried a little longer. In this case, just leave the mason jar open for a while so the water can evaporate.
Storing Your Buds
Store the mason jars in a dark place away from sunlight. This is very important, as sunlight will not only increase the temperature within the jars but also degrade the cannabinoids. The temperature in the jars should be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, while the relative humidity levels should be 60-65%. You can invest in a hygrometer to help you monitor the humidity inside the jars and fix any problems before it affects the buds.
When it’s all set, diligently monitoring the progress will be the key to successfully completing the curing process. This predominantly means checking up on the buds regularly. In the first week, you’ll need to open the jars every day (about twice per day) to “burp” the buds. In other words, it’s to allow exposure to fresh air during the process. Leave the jars open for a couple of minutes every time and once you close them, shake them gently to allow the fresh air to mingle with the buds.
Monitor and Follow-Up
During this time it’s especially important to inspect the jars for any sign of mold or bacterial growth. If you notice moldy buds, remove them right away. And if you notice an ammonia smell, then remove the lid and leave them to dry for a day or two. Ammonia smell indicates bacterial overgrowth, so acting quickly will save your batch from spoiling.
For the following week, continue with opening the jars only once a day, and continue monitoring the buds. If all looks good after the initial two weeks, open the jars only once a week for the following two weeks or more.
After several weeks, you can open the jars only once a month. However, after 6 months, the curing process will naturally end and you’ll have to prepare the buds for long term storage. To store them, place them in a cool and dark room in airtight containers (mason jars are perfect).
When properly stored, weed can remain equally flavorful and potent for up to one year. Afterwards, the cannabinoids start to slowly break down. It will still get you high, but the high will be more mellow.
Curing weed is a simple process, but it does require patience and diligence. However, assuming that you enjoy growing cannabis, it shouldn’t be a problem, and the ending result couldn’t be more rewarding. Happy curing!