When it comes to cannabis, growing is half the process with the other half being drying and curing. These are the required steps before you can have that fresh, perfect smoke you desire from your bud, or your desired effect from your edibles.
The point of curing & drying
To beginners, this step seems like a waste of time, but once you gain experience you will realize it is absolutely essential. Fact is, skipping the curing and drying process could make all that time, energy, and money (!) growing your cannabis plant go to waste. Curing cannabis properly is critical in order to produce high quality buds.
Increasing the potency of your buds is probably the primary reason to cure cannabis. To break it down, consider that cannabis naturally produces THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) as well as cannabinoids through biosynthesis. This mechanism involves converting compounds into different mixtures. For example: the conversion of THCA to THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive compound within cannabis.
What you may not realize is that is that biosynthesis doesn’t stop when you cut your marijuana plants. Therefore, storing your cannabis in the appropriate conditions is important which can lead to the process of non-psychoactive cannabinoids in the plant turning into THCA. Once you decarboxylate the buds by smoking them later this means more THC, since there will be more THCA to form it. Thus, the more THC in the plant, the stronger the potency. In order for this biosynthesis to continue, keeping the humidity in your storage area between 45-55% and the temperature between 15.5-21.1°C.
Curing of your cannabis will in fact also increase its shelf-life. If cured in the correct manner, in addition to lasting longer in storage, you will not have to concern yourself with losing any cannabinoid content or the growth of mold.
In the industry, cannabis is rated on a scale of AA, AAA, and AAAA. Accurate drying and curing of cannabis leads to a higher rating and in turn, improved smoke and flavour. While what is considered good differs from strain to strain and the user themselves, there is a general agreement that proper care leads to improved flavour.
The process of curing and drying in optimal conditions will augment the environment for aerobic bacteria and the enzymes that break down the sugars and leftover minerals that aren’t needed.
Would you eat food that has mold on it? Same thing goes for buds; no one likes moldy buds! That is why the drying step is essential. Even if there’s a little bit of mold it can contaminate your entire batch of buds and turn it unsafe to use.
How to properly dry cannabis buds
You now understand the why, but now it’s time to learn the how. There is not clear cut way on how to dry as it depends on the grower’s preferences which can lead to slight variations from one to the next. Here at Freshly Rated Cannabis we dry as follows:
- Designate a dark room where the temperature can be easily manipulated.
- Maintain the temperature between 15.5-21.1°C and the humidity between 45-55%.
- Construct a system where air will be properly circulated (with fans, etc.)
Naturally, to keep your curing room within these conditions you will need a dehumidifier and air conditioner to help maintain it or else the flavour and smell of your bud may be affected.
The type of cut determines your drying
How you harvest your plants will determine how your drying setup will be organized.
Generally, growers will cut branches that range from 12 to 16 inches from their marijuana plants. The leaves are then removed and the branches are hung off a wire or string.
Some growers even opt to cut the entire plant or larger bundles of branches while others may cut off the individual buds instead. Any method you go with will affect your drying time. Cutting branches or whole plants will save time during the initial harvest, but the buds will then have to be trimmed afterwards. Not only that, but the drying time will be much longer and you have to thoroughly ensure it is all dry. Cutting individual buds first before drying will take longer, but you will dry much faster.
When to manicure your cannabis
One decision you will have to make is when to manicure your cannabis. This can be either before or after drying. If you are drying by branches or whole plant you will probably want to save this step until after.
When the buds are dry
Drying time can take approximately 5 to 15 days depending on the density of your flowers and the conditions of your curing room. To verify whether the buds are ready their exterior must feel slightly crunchy. Take a small branch of the bud and attempt to bend it. If the buds are ready then it should bend rather than fold.
Manicuring the buds
This step requires a lot of patience as it will influence the final look and shake of your buds. Here you remove any excess plant and trim to your preference.
Now your must store your buds in a proper manner in the container of your choice which must be air-tight. The most popular form of storage are Mason jars. You can also use any hard plastic, wood, metal, or ceramic if that is what you have. It is important to note that you should NEVER use plastic bags as they can allow oxygen to seep in and may degrade when in contact with a few of the common terpenes. Pack your bud loosely, ensuring not to crush any.
Where to store
Store your containers in a dark, dry, and cool area. After a day your buds should begin to have moisture return to their exterior. This is due to the interior of the plant working to rehydrate the outside. You may have dried your buds too much if they still remain dry and crunchy at this point.
Ideally, you will want to open your containers a few times a day for the first week. This is to let the moisture in the buds escape and help maintain the oxygen inside. Following a week you can start doing this once a week instead of daily.
Caution: Smell the buds! If it has an ammonia-like smell, this means that the buds were not dry enough during storing and so the anaerobic bacteria are eating them. This can and likely will lead to mold growth if this isn’t corrected.
Humidity during curing
When in storage, you must make sure that the humidity is about 60-65% in your containers. Anything lower than 55% then you’ll have to rehydrate the buds with a humidipack or even orange peels. If above 65% then remove the lid of your container for 2-4 hours. This is increased to 12-24 hours if the humidity reaches above 70%.
Estimated curing time
The shortest would be two to three weeks, but when you want that greatest product it can be cured up to six months! Depending on the strain, some may even require such a long cure time. Four to eight weeks is a good compromise for a middle ground that a lot of growers and users will be okay with.
Alternative curing methods
The process above is what we at Freshly Rated
Cannabis are proud of mastering, but there are also alternative methods that
can be used – like freeze-drying, water curing, or dry ice curing. These
methods are considered less reliable, but they are alternatives if you cannot
afford the time.
Warning: The above methods will most likely end up with your cannabis not tasting good at all. Users sometimes report that using any of them can increase headaches and paranoia.