How to Clean Your Cannabis for Cooking

March 22, 2023
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How to Clean Your Cannabis for Cooking

Do you wash cannabis before cooking with it? If that question surprises you, you aren’t alone. But according to Jeff The 420 Chef, you will have much better results if you clean your cannabis before adding it to an edible solvent like butter, oil, or grain alcohol.

Chef Jeff invented a cannabis cleaning process that he dubs the “FreeLeaf” method. The “FreeLeaf” method removes unwanted contaminants and flavors from the flower. The cleaning process takes a few days, but theend result is infusions with a neutral, mild flavor that can be incorporated into a wide range of cuisines.

Why Clean Your Cannabis Flower before Cooking?

Edibles typically have a distinct grassy and herbaceous flavor that indicates the presence of cannabis. If you have ever tried cooking with different cannabis strains, you might have noticed that the end result tastes fairly similar regardless of the strain.

That is because what you are tasting is actually burnt terpenes, flavonoids and chlorophyll. As Chef Jeff says, “Rye, sourdough, pumpernickel—they all taste the same when burned.” Many people dislike this weedy flavor, so Chef Jeff came up with a way to eliminate it. But flavor is not the only reason you should clean your cannabis.

Did you know that cannabis flower often contains contaminants like insect eggs, mold, fungus, and pesticides? When you combine your cannabis, butter, and water in a slow cooker, all of these contaminants end up in your food. Chef Jeff’s “FreeLeaf” cleaning process removes the majority of these surface contaminants, as well as the volatile compounds that burn and give edibles their distinctive flavor. While the “FreeLeaf” cleaning method removes surface contaminants, it cannot remove contaminants that are systemic to the plant, such as pesticides that have seeped in through the roots. Not even the “FreeLeaf” method can remove these contaminants, which is why it is important to use the highest quality cannabis flower you can find when making cannabis infusions.

“Tasteless” Edibles

When you vape cannabis flower, you inhale a combination of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. These different compounds exert a range of biological effects and give rise to the “entourage effect.” However, terpenes, flavonoids and chlorophyll are highly volatile and combustible compounds. They burn off between 100-215 degrees Fahrenheit.

In general, we cook most dishes between 325-450 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, ovens fluctuate by about 25 degrees on average. When you are cooking with cannabis, these volatile compounds will burn. If you don’t want to incorporate this burnt flavor into your dish, you have to remove these compounds before infusing your edible solvent. Only the cannabis plant’s trichomes are not destroyed at cooking temperatures, as they do not combust below 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Trichomes are hair-like outgrowths or appendages on plants, lichen, algae, and certain protists. The cannabinoids in cannabis are synthesized and stored in the trichomes. Chef Jeff’s “FreeLeaf” method allows you to remove the volatile compounds while preserving the trichomes, allowing you to create “tasteless” infusions that can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

What is the “FreeLeaf” Method?

Chef Jeff’s “FreeLeaf” method involves soaking and blanching cannabis before “decarbing” it in the oven at low heat. Most cannabis users think that if flower gets wet, it is ruined. However, soaking cannabis in water will not affect its potency. Trichomes in cannabis are hydrophobic (afraid of water) and lipophilic (fat loving). As a result, they will not dissolve in water and will remain intact until you add your cleaned flower to an edible solvent like oil, butter, or grain alcohol. After soaking and blanching your cannabis, you “decarb” it in the oven at low heat. “Decarbing” or decarboxylation is a chemical reaction in which a carboxylic acid group (COOH) is removed from a molecule, releasing carbon dioxide in the process. With cannabis, THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is converted into THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)—the molecule responsible for cannabis’ psychoactive effects. While blanching removes the majority of the terpenes, flavonoids and chlorophyl, any remaining volatile compounds will evaporate in the heat during the “decarb” process. However, the “decarb” process is primarily to remove the acid molecule from THCA.

How Do You Clean Your Cannabis for Cooking?

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to clean your cannabis at home.

  1. Break up your cannabis flower.
  2. Place your cannabis in a French Press and cover with distilled water.
  3. Let the cannabis soak for 12 hours, then dump the water. Cover with fresh distilled water.
  4. Repeat Step 3 until the water runs clear. This process typically takes 72 hours.
  5. Place cannabis in a tea strainer. Blanche cannabis in boiling water for 5 minutes.
  6. Place tea strainer in ice-water bath for 1 minute to cool.
  7. Rinse cannabis with distilled water to remove any remaining impurities.
  8. Put cannabis in a salad spinner and spin for 30 seconds to remove excess water.
  9. Pre-heat oven to 214 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Spread cannabis in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven.
  11. Let the cannabis dry and “decarb” for 60-75 minutes.
  12. Add your cleaned cannabis to an edible solvent like oil, butter, or grain alcohol to make “tasteless” infusions.

How to Dose Edibles

It has always been difficult to determine the potency of homecooked edibles, but Chef Jeff has invented a solution to this perennial problem with his THC Calculator. To use Chef Jeff’s THC Calculator, all you need to do is choose the percentage of THC or CBD in your cannabis, enter the weight of your flower after the “decarb” process, and select the solvent you are infusing. The THC Calculator calculates the potency of your infused solvent so that you can precisely dose it. For a limited time, Chef Jeff has partnered with Jointly to offer Jointly users free access to his THC Calculator. For helpful tips and videos about cooking with cannabis, check out Jeff the 420 Chef’s website.

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