Every grower’s favorite part of the growing process is finally tasting the final product after all the hard work and effort put into their cannabis plants. However, in between the harvesting and the tasting comes the curing process, which can make a major difference in the quality of your cannabis flowers.
Admittedly, curing is boring and it takes time and patience, but whichever cannabis strain you’re growing will benefit from it. The top-shelf quality buds you see in dispensaries are buds that have been cured, so if you think that you can skip it – think again. Sure, you can consume green marijuana too, but the difference in flavor and potency will be lightyears away, plus, green marijuana spoils quickly.
If you’ve ever wondered what it is about the curing process that’s so important for the quality of your harvested cannabis, keep reading, because in this article we cover all about it, plus some recap on how to cure weed properly.
What Is the Purpose of Curing Marijuana?
Curing is the final stage of cannabis cultivation. After the marijuana plants have been hung to dry so that the initial excess moisture can evaporate, it’s time for a slower, more controlled drying, or curing.
If the initial drying pulls out the moisture on the outer layers of the buds, then curing allows for a slow evaporation of the moisture on the inside of the buds. The curing process lasts for weeks and requires controlled conditions with specific temperatures and humidity levels in order to obtain maximum results.
It may sound like a lot of effort, but the purpose of curing is to remove bacteria and preserve the buds for long-term storage, and at the same time, retain all the cannabinoids, flavonols, and terpenes present in the plant matter. Ultimately, this results in high-quality weed that will last long without losing any of its chemical profile or potency.
What Does Curing Cannabis Do?
Fresh cannabis contains the non-psychoactive acidic precursors of THC and CBD called THCA and CBDA. When cannabis crops are harvested, the production of these cannabinoids doesn’t just stop – as long as there is still some moisture and oxygen, the cannabinoids will continue developing further until they reach their full potential. When provided with an adequate temperature and humidity during the curing process, the buds will have a higher cannabinoid content, which also means higher potency.
From the moment you harvest your crops, aerobic bacteria and enzymes naturally present within the plant matter start to degrade all the unnecessary sugars and starches that are actually leftovers from the breakdown of chlorophyll. When these residual components are used up, what you’re left with is the pure terpene profile of your cannabis strain. In fact, it’s chlorophyll and its byproducts that give that harsh and grassy flavor to weed that has not been properly cured. Cured buds result in a vibrant and full flavor, and smoke that’s a lot smoother.
Basically, curing stops the degradation of the most important components in the plant. Both the terpenes and the cannabinoids are highly volatile and can easily evaporate or transform into less potent compounds, but the slow evaporation of moisture helps to fully preserve them.
Therefore, cured buds will provide you with a much better smoking experience – the unique flavor of your strains will be much more pronounced and the smoke won’t be harsh. The risk of experiencing side effects like anxiety and paranoia will also be reduced, plus, your buds will last for months without getting moldy or losing their potency.
Proper Curing In a Nutshell
Proper curing consists of two steps – initial drying and curing. Drying your cannabis buds before you cure them is a vital step of the process because this is how you prevent mold and bacterial overgrowth from forming due to excess moisture.
So how to dry marijuana to prevent all that? Let’s find out.
Step 1: Initial Drying Process
Technically, the drying process starts as soon as you cut down the buds and trim off all the unwanted fan leaves. Therefore, you need to find a way to dry the cannabis, and you can get as creative as you want. Some growers prefer to dry whole branches turned upside down, while others snip off the buds alone and put them on a drying rack.
Whatever you do, you need to dry the buds in a dark room because the cannabinoids are sensitive to light. For the first three days, the temperature should be around 65 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity should be at around 55% – this should allow for most moisture to evaporate. After that, drop the temperature to 64 degrees Fahrenheit to slow down the drying process and encourage the breakdown of chlorophyll.
The drying process should last no more than 10 to 14 days, otherwise, the cannabinoids will degrade. To maintain these conditions, we recommend you get a small fan and dehumidifier in your grow room for an even airflow and to discourage the build-up of humidity. You can also use an air conditioner and a thermometer to keep track of the temperature. Be careful not to overdry the buds – it’s much easier to remove the little extra moisture than to rehydrate them.
Step 2: Curing the Cannabis Buds
The curing process can begin when the stems of your plant gently snap when they are bent, while the buds feel dry but not crumbly.
For the curing process, you’ll need to place the cannabis buds into airtight containers. Mason jars are by far the most popular containers used by growers as their sealing system is good enough to keep the air in. Fill the glass jars about 2/3, leaving extra room at the top, so that the buds are able to move when you shake the jar. Store the jars in a dark room with the temperature at 64 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity at 50%.
During the first week, you should open the jars a few times a day to allow for a fresh air exchange. If you notice your buds are sticking together, it means there is excess moisture and you need to leave the jars open for a while before you resume the curing. If you notice mold, dispose of the moldy buds right away. Also, if you notice an ammonia smell, it means there is a bacterial overgrowth due to excess moisture, and if it’s not too late, leave the jar open for a day or two.
Prepare For Long-Term Storage
After the first week, you should open the jars only once every few days. Eventually, if everything is looking good, after four weeks, you can stop opening them. Cured buds are ready to be consumed after four weeks, but most cultivators would say the longer you cure it, the better taste these will have. So, if you can extend the curing to eight weeks (or even more), the end result should be pretty impressive.
Cured weed can be stored for up to about two years without the risk of turning moldy. After two years, the cannabinoids will slowly start degrading. However, this won’t mean that it won’t be potent, just that the high will be a little milder.
Bottom Line – You Should Always Cure Cannabis if You Intend to Store It
Curing is a must if you intend to store your marijuana. However, besides preserving, curing has unique perks that will significantly improve the quality of the buds, such as flavor and potency. So, if you want to elevate your hard labor as a cultivator and experience the full glory of your cannabis crops, curing is your stop.