“What do you mean I have to dry and cure the cannabis I just harvested?”

by Alex Robles

     In case no one told you, that beautiful looking, smellie cannabis bud that you just harvested won’t be ready to smoke for at least 3 more weeks.  A proper drying and curing of your flower will help lock in those aromas and flavors that we love about this beautiful plant.   It’s almost impossible to light and enjoy freshly harvested cannabis buds because they still have too much moisture.  If you do manage to get that wet weed lit and not turn it into a figure from Pompaii, the high amount of chlorophyll that’s still in it is going to give that bud a grass or hay taste.  The chlorophyll is also going to give you a harsh burning acidic feeling at the back of your throat when you inhale, it’s not enjoyable or tastey.  Drying and curing have a similar effect on cannabis but are not the same and shouldn’t be rushed. 

Drying

    The drying time will help pull a majority of the moisture that’s in the bud to the top layers of the flower so it can evaporate away.  The rest of moisture that’s deep in the bud will be slowly drawn out in the curing process.  As always with all things cannabis, timing is everything.  The dry shouldn’t be too fast or you run the risk of locking in a lot of chlorophyll.  If the drying time is too long you run the risk of the bud developing mold.  The drying process usually takes about 7 to 10 days depending on air flow, humidity and temperature.  The best combination of temperature and humidity that works for me is 70 F at 54%-55% humidity. 

    If I’m drying a small batch of cannabis, 3 plants or less, 2-3ft tall.  A hall closet is the perfect size and it’s temperature controlled.  Remember to take out any clothes that are in there or they will smell like your bud.  If you store paint or cleaning supplies in that closet, remove them also.  The fumes will tanit the flavor of your cannabis.  I’ll also put a small fan in there to circulate the air and I’ll open the door a few times a day to refresh and exchange the air.

     I typically hang the whole plant upside down on some hangers to dry, this seems to give me a more even drying.  Before I hang her up I trim off as many leaves as I can to cut down on the amount of chlorophyll that the bud has to get rid of.  Circular mesh drying racks work pretty well too.  You just have to remember to rotate the buds at least once a day so they don’t get a flat spot on them.               

     After 3 days I’ll start bending the branches to test to see how the drying is going.  If the branches snap off, the buds are ready for their final trim.  If the branches don’t snap, I leave them up drying a little longer, while checking them daily.  Don’t be surprised if drying takes upto 10 days.  Once the drying is over, your cannabis bud is ready for the curing process.

Curing

     The curing process should take at least 2 weeks in order to get a good flavor and high out of your flower.  Some growers do a 4 or 6 week cure, sometimes longer, to get that really stellar taste and high.  The cure is going to let you do two things.  First it’s going to pull the rest of moisture that’s still deep in the middle of the bud to the surface so it can evaporate away.  You don’t want to store cannabis for a long time if it’s still moist because it will mold.  The second thing the cure is going to do is give aerobic bacteria time to digest and break down any leftover chlorophyll metabolites that could give your smoke a harsh throat burning taste.  Think of it this way, curing our cannabis helps us to control the loss of moisture so we can preserve the true flavors and aromas of that cannabis variety.   

     Before I start the cure I give the dry buds a final trimming.  I make sure to trim off the leaves I might have missed during the first trim.  When I start the curing process I’ll cut the dried buds off the large stems and branches into glass mason jars.  I make sure not to pack or force the buds into the jars because this could break off trichome heads.  I suggest using glass, ceramic, wood or metal airtight, light proof containers to cure and store your cannabis.  Store any clear glass jars of cannabis in a dark space, light degrades trichomes faster.  I don’t recommend using plastic containers because they could have micro pores and allow unwanted air or moisture in.  Also some of the oils and alcohol based terpenes in the trichomes could react with the chemicals in the plastic. 

     During the curing process, you’re going to want to open your jars at least twice a day for 15 min at a time.  This is called “burping” and it helps ensure that the moisture that is escaping from the bud won’t build up in the container, condense and cause mold.  The moisture escaping is also the reason why a day or two after you first start the curing process, the buds feel more moist and supple than they did when you first jared them up. 

  The perfect humidity range for curing cannabis is between 55-65%.  I use a product known as humidity packs to keep the humidity where I want it in the jar.  These little packages respond to any humidity inside a container by adding or absorbing moisture as needed to maintain the relative humidity (RH) level that’s marked on the package.  I get the 62% RH 2 way humidity control packs and they’ll last 2-4 months depending on conditions.

    Most cannabis varieties will give you an ok flavor and high after 2 week of burping and curing.   But usually I like to do a 4 week cure on most of my flower.  Some growers like to take 6 to 8 weeks, while others will take months.  Your cure time should be the one that gives YOU a quality experience.  Once your flower is adequately cured, you should be able to store it in an airtight, light proof container for a long time with very little degradation.  

     Congratulations, you just cultivated and processed your first cannabis harvest.  It always feels good when you roll the joint from your flower.

    In the next section I’ll talk a bit about how I make canna-butter and share a few of my favorite recipes. Enjoy your smoke.    

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