One of the most important aspects of cooking with cannabis is the balance of potency and flavor profile in a given recipe. Achieving this balance is what I call cooking for “flavor and feeling”. In my opinion, the biggest problem with most edibles and cannabis meals is the assumption that people will enjoy the food just because it’s infused.
I have ordered restaurant food based on a single ingredient and have been massively disappointed more times than not. The same has been my experience with many cannabis edibles.
When preparing any food, the first thought should be “How is this going to taste?” I am blessed with having a momz (Brooklynese for mother) who can make shoe leather taste like Beef Wellington. With that in mind, my feeling is that you MUST make food delicious first—but never forget the kick of the cannabis.
How to make it easy and fun
There are some easy things that you can do to improve the taste and potency of your recipe when you’re cooking. First, you should decarboxylate your herb by baking it at 250°F/120°C for half an hour. Not only will this literally create the THC that activates your cannabis, it will also give it an appealing toasted, nutty flavor.
Second, be kind to yourself, and do your herbal extraction in a MagicalButter® machine. This device is by far the easiest, most consistent way to infuse the goodness from cannabis into foods. (Put the ingredients inside, and push two buttons. If you like simple, it’s just that simple.)
Once you select the base for your recipe (butter, oil, or alcohol), you may want to adjust your recipe to either enhance or mellow the herbal flavor cues. It could be as easy as adding a little extra vanilla extract and sugar to your cakes and cookies, or adding honey and citric acid to your gummy and hard-candy recipes.
For savory dishes, aromatics rule the day. There is nothing that sets off the flavor jets in the mouth like the aroma of onions and garlic sautéing in a bath of butter or olive oil. Have fun experimenting with taste tweaks until you achieve that perfect balance!
Start low, go slow
It takes some (extremely fun) trial and error, repeating recipes, getting them to the perfect balance of flavors and feeling, until confidence and repeatability set in. My advice is to develop a recipe to where you love it before infusing it. Once you love the flavor of the recipe, you can start to experiment with infusion. Remember when ingesting cannabis—especially if you’re new to this method of enjoying the herb—that it’s easy to overdo it. So, follow the time-tested maxim: Start low, and go slow.
It’s a relatively simple process to adjust the strength of your food. As for your confections, if you make them stronger, you can eat less sugar and still get the same effect. Be careful, though. Making delicious food that gives you the munchies could turn into a positive feedback loop. You may never want to stop eating!
As for dosing, here is an approximate formula:
(% THC content) x 1,000 = milligrams of THC per gram of cannabis in sample
For example, if your cannabis is 15% THC, and IF you could extract 100% of the THC from it, you would have 150 mg of THC per gram of cannabis.
.15 x 1,000 = 150 mg/g
Then just multiply that result by the number of grams of cannabis in your sample, and you have your total THC dose in milligrams. (Funny, I don’t seem to remember the arithmetic examples being quite this fun and easy in grade school…always something exciting about train schedules instead.)
The cannabis is going to be the star of the dish, no worries, but it shouldn’t overwhelm the palate. Work it into your recipe until your dish has the desired character. It’s fun to create depth of flavor and elevate the taste of your edibles, so that all the work you put into making them will make you “feel delicious!”
To reduce bitterness, add sweetness or tartness to your recipes. Honey, corn syrup, and agave nectar are perfect for upping sweetness and mellowing bitterness. Honey is not only a stabilizer, but also a natural preservative.
Citric acid is my tartness agent of choice. A little goes a long way, and, like honey, it is a natural preservative as well. Try to limit using citrus fruits and juices, though: The ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) dampens the effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Conversely, the monoterpene myrcene found in fresh mango is widely known to enhance the mood-elevating and relaxing effects.
Here are some herbs and spices that impart a wide variety of healing properties, give foods incredible, exotic flavors, while enhancing the euphoric effects of your cannabis infusion.
- Black pepper
Joey Galeano is the executive chef of MagicalButter.com. For tons of great recipes, how-to videos and information on the MagicalButter Botanical Extractor™, visit MagicalButter.com.