If you are after high-quality marijuana flowers, the curing process is very important and certainly shouldn’t be skipped. Yes, curing is crucial for flavour, but it can also prevent mold growth and enhance potency.
Long before improved cannabis processing methods were discovered, early weed growers were not familiar with the techniques of modern times. The desire to find better, healthier ways to process bud has evolved greatly through the ages.
Originally, cannabis was available in various colours. From Acapulco Gold, brown Colombian, and redder-than-red Thai stick to the bright green Oaxaca big bud. The variety of colours was a result of drying plants in the sun, as an old-fashioned alternative to today’s curing methods.
Why Cure Your Cannabis Buds?
Patience is a virtue in all areas of life. Just like a good bottle of wine, allowing your bud to cure certainly pays off. To really get the most out of your harvest, this step shouldn’t be skipped. Although it’s a prolonged process that can take weeks to complete, you will be glad you did it, with the end result being a buttery-smooth smoke.
By-products such as sugars leave a particularly harsh and unpleasant taste in the mouth. Prolonged curing leads to the degradation of these distasteful by-products produced by the drying process. This allows the terpenes and cannabinoids to reach their full potential for improved flavour and potency. Proper curing also prevents mold from rotting your valuable flowers.
During the cultivation and processing chains, there are several factors that impact the marijuana’s final qualities. The curing of your cannabis buds can, quite simply, be the difference between ending up with quality cannabis buds or not.
There are various curing methods and each leads to a different outcome. A few of the most common means of curing your harvest include:
- The Water-Cure method
- The Freeze-Dry method
- The Sweat-Cure method
- The Heat-Dehydration-Cure method
- And the more traditional, Sealed-Jar method.
1. The Water-Cure Method
This is a viable alternative to the traditional curing of a cannabis harvest since it reduces the waiting period while ensuring the removal of any unwanted bits while purifying the cannabis plant.
The water-cure method is done by submerging the marijuana flowers in water for around one week. A hydrolytic, purification-like reaction occurs, as the water dissolves the unwanted hydrophilic compounds, such as salts, sugar, insecticides, and any toxins that may be present. This process is more rapid and effective, as opposed to letting the buds absorb these compounds themselves.
The process appears to be quite painless. It does, however, flush some of the desired hydrophilic molecules, such as some terpenes, which results in losing some flavour and aroma.
On the plus side, this method gives the cannabis smoke a less conspicuous, smoother, and healthier flavour. But it can also cause the flowers to lose some of their aesthetic quality: water-cured cannabis is not as lush as air-cured cannabis.
In summary, water-curing speeds up purification but there is a loss in the sensory qualities (taste, sight, smell, touch) of buds cured this way.
2. The Freeze-Dry Method
The process of freeze-drying your cannabis has been a topic of discussion for many years, but it hasn’t been perfected until recently. Freeze-drying involves drying buds before the curing process in order to preserve the aesthetics or visual appeal. The perfection of this process came into fruition as a system that would preserve the phytochemical-dense trichomes and still allow the marijuana to be smokable.
There are three critical stages: 1. Freezing stage (which eliminates the formation of any large ice crystals in the final product), 2. Sublimation drying stage (which removes 95% of water present), and 3. Desorption drying stage (which leaves just 1-4% of moisture in the freeze-dried product).
. The buds can be stored for 6 months to 3 years in poly bags and possibly 25 years or longer in cans.
This is currently the fastest method of curing. The entire procedure can be completed in about 24 hours, which results in a lightweight, vibrantly coloured, and nutrient-dense plant, compared to alternative methods. The only downside is the high operating cost.
3. The Sweat-Cure Method
Sweat-curing is also known as wet-curing or high-humidity curing. It involves laying the cannabis buds on a flat surface and rotating them in intervals to ensure they are evenly dried. This method involves the action of microorganisms on the cannabis leaves which cause a rapid colour change.
Sweat-curing is not the most convenient option because it is quite labour-intensive. But it could be quite appropriate for buds too small for any other method.
There are modifications to this method, which involve the use of paper or absorbent materials to soak up any condensed moisture that slows down the process. Roll the cannabis plant up in plastic bags and open them up once a week until the curing process is complete.
4. The Heat-Dehydration-Cure Method
This is the most critical curing method of all because of how well it removes excess moisture from the buds. The temperature needs to be monitored closely in order to prevent the destruction or any adverse effects of vital compounds.
Regardless of how carefully you monitor, using this amount of heat would undoubtedly alter the composition the compounds of the cannabis buds. However, the level to which this happens is obviously determined by what temperature the buds have been subjected to.
Curing is a top-priority cannabis processing phase. There are several criteria and qualities to consider for the market in which it has been harvested and processed must be placed into top consideration.
5. The Sealed-Jar Method
Last but certainly not least. Once you have done the “snap test” and are sure your bud is dry, you can proceed with this method. Place the trimmed flowers loosely into an airtight container and fill it to 75% capacity. It’s important to leave room for air. Mason jars are a good option and allow growers to easily monitor their buds throughout the process.
To double-check that your bud is dry enough for curing, give the jars a gentle shake. If your buds rattle around the glass freely, it is safe to say you can begin curing. If they begin to clump together, this is a sign the exterior is still too wet. If still wet, allow more time to dry before continuing to cure. Store your container in a cool and dark place. A cupboard or a room that maintains a temperature of 21°C and relative humidity of 60–65% within the jars is perfect.
Keep a close eye on your jars, monitoring the humidity levels and ensuring there is no mold forming. Initially, you will need to check on them twice a day. Open the lids for a couple of minutes each time you check to allow for fresh air. Continue to open the jars once per day over the next 2 weeks, then it should be safe to seal them up.
After 3 weeks, your buds will be well-cured and ready to smoke up. However, the more patient you are, the greater the reward will be. Your cannabis buds will continue to increase in quality for up to 6 months of curing.
Most people opt for the familiar sealed-jar method, but we thought we’d enlighten you about the other options. Whichever method you choose, the good news is that, if you’ve made it this far, most of the hard work is already done and it’s nearly time to dine on the fruits of your labour. Why not check out our tasty seeds selection for a new flavour next time?