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The Ultimate Holiday Cannabis Pairing Guide

Wondering what strain goes best with pumpkin pie, or might help you re-create that sweet moment at the end of a magical winter night? This pairing guide will help you find the cannabis flower that compliments your favorite holiday foods and moods. (Plus, a recipe!) Created with Top Leaf.
December 19, 2019
Written by Herb
Created with Top Leaf

Photo: ©anaumenko – stock.adobe.com

Selection of traditional Holiday food – turkey, mashed patatoes, green beans, and apple pie. All that’s missing is cannabis and acorn squash (scroll down).

The Holidays are just around the corner—it’s time for delicious food, cozy nights by the fire, and, of course, sharing some top-shelf flower with friends and family. To help you celebrate your holiday season right, we’ve created the Ultimate Holiday Pairing Guide. Learn what gives holiday food its unique appeal, and how to elevate your festivities with thoughtfully paired cannabis flower.

The Ultimate Holiday Cannabis Pairing Guide

Cooking with Cannabis

Photo: ©creative_content – stock.adobe.com

Close-up of fresh dough with cannabis flour.

The most important thing about holiday cooking? Flavor. Holiday food is the antidote to cold winter months, filled with robust aromas that radiate warmth and comfort. Spices like warm cinnamon and herbs like savory rosemary take center stage in seasonal meals and help fill our need for lushness and life when nature is sleeping outside. 

As it turns out, cannabis and holiday foods have something in common: terpenes. Terpenes are the scented molecules that give plants their unique tastes and fragrances, cannabis included. 

The cannabis plant can produce over 200 of these different molecules, giving cannabis flowers a diverse aromatic profile that rivals your favorite glass of red wine. And just like a whiff of Carménère can transport you back to the heavenly bistro where they used to pour your glass as soon as you walked through the door, the scents of cannabis can be equally attached to our memories of comfort and delight. By surrounding ourselves with the terpenes that make us feel good, we can take our holiday bliss to the next level.

There are two ways to elevate your festive vibe. One is by pairing your meal with a complimentary cannabis inhalable. For example, some cultivars, like Jack Herer, feature some of the same chemical constituents as nutmeg, a quintessential holiday spice. A mouthful of its sweet, spicy smoke might trigger the same sentimental feeling as eggnog on ice. 

Another way to make your spirits extra bright is by infusing fragrant strains right into your food. Combining cannabis with spices that feature similar terpene profiles makes it easy to create mouth-watering dishes with an enlightened kick.

Created with Top Leaf.

Photo from Top Leaf.

Flavor Pairs for The Holidays

Lay your table with these foods and strains to create an immersive, nostalgic experience.

Pine

Crisp pine, juniper, and spicy rosemary provide strong evergreen overtones to winter walks and holiday meats. The terpene pinene is responsible for this signature scent, bringing a fresh and clarifying quality to holiday dishes. 

In cannabis, pinene gives a spicy and sharp aroma.

  • Common Dishes: poultry, fish, lamb, game meats.
  • Complementary Cannabis Cultivar: Top Leaf Jager OG

Mint

Fresh like the first winter snow, a combination of the terpenes menthol and linalool give mint a breezy floral quality. Some cannabis cultivars contain similar flavor profiles, which pair well with both sweet and savory dishes like lamb, chocolate treats and desserts.

  • Common Dishes: quail, lamb, game meats, chocolate desserts.
  • Complementary Cannabis Cultivar: LA Confidential
Created with Top Leaf

Photo from Top Leaf.

Nutmeg

From pumpkin pie to egg nog, nutmeg features a distinct nutty aroma, complete with dashes of citrus and a hint of spice. The terpene terpinolene lends its delicate floral quality to nutmeg, as well as to many classic cannabis cultivars.  

  • Common Dishes: Pumpkin pie, eggnog, sweet baked goods, savory holiday sauces, and stews.
  • Complementary Cannabis Cultivar: Jack Herer

Cinnamon

Along with nutmeg, cinnamon is one of the most recognizable scents in holiday baking. Its sweet, warming quality is characterized by the terpene beta-caryophyllene (BCP). BCP is also a common constituent in black peppercorn. However, our nose can tell a mulled apple cider from a peppery chai thanks to cinnamon’s unique profile of secondary terpenes like pinene (pine), terpinolene (wood), and nerolidol (floral). Interestingly, many cannabis varieties contain the same combination of compounds.  

  • Common Dishes: Sweet potato, apple pies, cookies, bread, and sweet desserts. 
  • Complementary Cannabis Cultivar: Top Leaf Blue Dream
Created with Top Leaf

Photo from Top Leaf.

Clove

Deeply warming clove provides depth to pumpkin pies, red sauces, and many holiday baked goods. Like cinnamon, clove features a spicy kick and distinguished flavor, but with a slightly fruitier finish. The terpene myrcene is to thank for the musky quality in cloves, as well as some mangoes and hops. As luck would have it, myrcene is also the most common terpene in cannabis flowers. 

  • Common Dishes: pumpkin pie, cookies, red sauces
  • Complementary Cannabis Cultivar: Granddaddy Purple

Cranberry

No holiday meal is complete without a touch of acidity. Sour cranberry is a classic source of acid that compliments sweetness and even tenderizes meats in holiday cooking. 

This winter fruit features a complex aromatic profile that contains a mixture of most of the aforementioned terpenes. As a result, cranberry pairs well with both sweet and savory dishes, adding tartness and abundant flavor. 

  • Common Dishes: cranberry sauce, cranberry jelly, cranberry drinks 
  • Complementary Cannabis Cultivar: Top Leaf GSC

Whether the holidays make you crave nourishing squash, root vegetables and lovingly roasted meats, or sweet apples, citrus, and cranberry, the evocative scents of terpene-rich cannabis can increase the glow on the moments that warm your soul.

Two Sensational Holiday Recipes From Top Leaf

Created with Top Leaf

Photo from Top Leaf.

Nobody knows how to layer comforting flavours and sensations like a cannabis chef. Calgary’s Chef Elycia Ross of Lil’ Truck on the Prairie has created two magical recipes inspired by the flavors and aromas of Top Leaf bud. Roll up your sleeves and give them a shot, and may you create the merriest moments of the year.

Stuffed Acorn Squash (Vegetarian)

Created with Top Leaf

Photo from Top Leaf.

Yield: 8 servings | Dosage: 4 mg THC per slice of squash

Ingredients:

  • 2 Acorn Squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp cannabis infused butter (THC content = 33 mg per Tbsp)
  • 1 cup soft goat cheese 
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 1 tsp fresh picked thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped sage
  • 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
  • Chives

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 °F 
  2. Cut each squash into 4 pieces, and toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven, seeds still attached, for 30 minutes or until fork-tender.
  3. Once tender, pull from oven and cool for 5 minutes. 
  4. Scoop seeds out, leaving the flesh behind and toss the seeds out or save for roasting.
  5. Soften the infused butter and mix together with goat cheese, walnuts, chopped thyme & sage. Once combined scoop mixture into each squash segment and then top with the breadcrumbs. 
  6. Pop back into the oven for 10 minutes to heat through the goat cheese mixture.
  7. Enjoy!

Chicken Gravy with Citrus & Pepper

Created with Top Leaf

Photo from Top Leaf.

Yeild: 1 L of gravy | Dosage: 4 mg THC per ½ cup of gravy

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp infused butter (THC content = 33 mg per Tbsp)
  • 3 Tbsp regular butter 
  • 1 L chicken broth
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme 
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon (juice & zest)
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Roast poultry drippings

Directions:

  1. Melt butters in a medium-sized sauce pot and add the flour, cook until it forms a paste or a roux. 
  2. Add thyme, sage and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. 
  3. Whisk in 1 cup of broth at a time, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer and cook on low for 10 minutes. Add in your lemon zest and juice as well as your pan drippings if you’re roasting a chicken or turkey.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Enjoy! 
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December 19, 2019
Written by Herb

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