Photography by Jonathan Coward for Herb
Depending on what kind of edibles you’re looking to store and how you store them, their shelf life could vary from a week to many years. The most effective methods for storing your edibles, however, are almost always the same: keep them cold, in a dark place, and sealed.
The most easily stored of all edible cannabis products are tinctures. Alcohol-based tinctures, stored in the refrigerator in an amber dropper bottle, can potentially remain edible for decades. If you want to learn how to make alcohol-based cannabis tinctures, you can read this article here. You can also make tinctures using glycerine if using alcohol isn’t an option for whatever reason. Tinctures made with glycerine, however, have a much shorter shelf-life.
Edibles made to resemble baked goods, like brownies and cookies, will not last nearly as long. For these types of edibles, your best bet is to take guidance from the packaging they came in, or of the products you used to make them. This is because the ingredients you use to make the actual edible—like cookie dough—may not last as long as the cannabis butter or oil itself. This also applies to pre-made edibles you may purchase at your local dispensary, or online. In most cases though, it’s still possible to store homemade edibles for extended periods of time—if you use the right technique.
Another great option is to store your butter or oil separately, then only using enough of it to create edibles that will last you through, at maximum, the week in which you make them. Cannabis oils and butters are easily stored for long periods of time in the freezer. Cannabis butter can simply be wrapped in parchment paper, sealed in a vacuum sealed bag, and placed in the freezer.
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, store your products in an opaque glass container, rather than plastic.
The bad news is, it’s impossible to quantify exactly how long any edible will last when stored even under the best conditions. The good news is, storing edibles is incredibly simple. In some cases, storing your edibles only requires two steps.
1. Keep your tinctures in a dark amber bottle.
2. Put your tincture in the freezer to store.
1. Package your edibles in a vacuum sealed bag, using a vacuum sealing machine to take all of the air out of the packaging.
2. Put your vacuum sealed bag of edibles in a dark, safe place in your freezer to store.
1. Wrap your butter in parchment paper.
2. Package your parchment paper wrapped butter in a vacuum sealed bag, using a vacuum sealing machine to take all of the air out of the packaging.
3. Put your vacuum sealed bag of butter in a dark, safe place in your freezer to store.
1. Pour your oil into an ice cube tray.
2. Put the ice cube tray of oil in the freezer long enough for the oil to solidify.
3. Take the ice cube tray of frozen oil out of the freezer and package it in a vacuum sealed bag, using a vacuum sealing machine to take all of the air out of the packaging.
4. Put the now vacuum sealed bag containing the ice cube tray of oil back in the freezer in a dark, safe place to store.
Improperly storing your edibles can have a negative impact on your health, the same way eating improperly stored food of any kind could. If you don’t properly store your edibles, especially for an extended period of time, it could result in the growth of harmful bacterias like mildew and mold, or even the contamination of your edibles by small insects. Homemade edibles are especially susceptible to these types of negative outcomes because they, unlike the pre-made snacks you may purchase at the grocery store, likely don’t contain any sort of preservatives.
When trying to effectively store your edibles, there’s a number of factors that are best avoided if you want to maintain the quality of your products. Heat, light, moisture, and air are all factors that can degrade the quality of your edible. Moisture and air, in particular, are responsible for a lot of bacterial contaminations.
If you don’t have any of the products listed above (for example, a vacuum sealer or parchment paper), and are looking for alternatives, be careful to avoid using anything made out of plastic. Plastic, especially if improperly stored, can affect the taste of your edibles. If exposed to excessive heat, chemicals in plastic could seep out into your edibles.
Since you’re trying to keep your edibles away from sunlight during storage, it’s recommended that they’re either kept in a back corner of your freezer so that when you open it they’re not hit by sunlight, or kept in an opaque container. It’s also a good idea to avoid frequently opening and closing the freezer where your edibles are stored, as the fluctuations in temperature are not ideal for the maintenance of your edibles’ quality. (On this point, however, don’t be nervous to ever open your freezer—this is only if you’re constantly in and out of your freezer.)