Cannabis growers often underestimate the importance of a proper drying and curing process for cannabis. Passionate home growers will often tend to put a lot of emphasis on finding the best cannabis seeds, the best LED lights for growing their supply, as well as supplementing with the right sorts of nutrients etc. However, they can then, unfortunately, fall short by utilising below-average drying and treatment methods for their crop. As a result, the resultant taste and quality of the grass, especially when smoked, can be very disappointing. Read on to find out how you can improve your drying and curing techniques.
Those who have first-hand experience of the distinctive aroma of properly cured and dried buds, know that they have a rich and pleasant smell. As such, it is important that the terpenes that modify the effects of cannabis remain within the buds. The buds may feel sticky on the application of pressure: their texture emits a slightly pasty, intoxicating scent. If the buds have been correctly cured, then they will have lost enough moisture to prevent them from becoming mouldy (when stored in the requisite glass jar) and thus can retain their full effects for up to a year or even two. When the buds have been processed in this way, they will have high terpene levels and their consumption will provide a truly intense and satisfying experience. Following successful cannabis cultivation, utilising proper drying and curing processes is the mandatory icing on the cake. If it is undertaken too quickly, then the risk of it losing its flavour and aroma is high. Therefore, following a handful of simple yet essential guidelines will ensure that anyone can become a veritable maestro in the process of drying and curing cannabis.
First of all, one begins with trimming the cannabis plant’s branches. After doing so, they are often hung on a wire hanger or similar and dried gently with, for example, a small household table fan. It is advisable to ensure that each branch or twig does not come into contact with one other. Doing this ensures that the buds all dry at the same rate, and one has precise control over the total drying time. There are even those who will undertake the drying process in complete darkness, to make sure that the THC is as little degraded as possible. A suitable kind of drying room can easily be created with a carbon filter and exhaust fan in a growing tent. An ideal temperature is around the 20ºC/70ºF mark. It is well known that trying to dry faster, at temperatures that are higher, causes more terpenes to be lost. More terpene loss means a significant drop in flavour, aroma and effectiveness. Thus, fewer terpenes equate to an inferior and poorer quality final product.
The cannabis drying process will result in it giving off a strong and distinctive odour that can be detected from quite far away. As a result, it is absolutely essential to be mindful of others in the vicinity, careful of any regulations, and ensure that air – and so smell – is heavily filtered out of the growing space with a proper carbon filter. An unrushed and controlled drying process is best achieved with the use of air conditioners, which will best ensure that the temperature consistently sits at around the 20ºC/70ºF mark. Equally, the humidity levels in the air are also essential, and should also not be excessively high: the optimal 50% level of humidity will result in the most desirable outcome from the drying process.
Another useful tip in terms of drying, is to make sure that the humidity/moisture levels in the air are around 60% for the initial few days, and then to incrementally reduce them to 55% over the following few days. After about 7 to 10 days, setting a dehumidifier to 50% to dry the buds a little more will produce the absolute best results. If the branches are almost beginning to snap off, then that is the sign that the buds can be removed from them and placed into a glass (not plastic or metal) jar or airtight container. Large buds will usually continue to dry for a day or two beyond the regular sized ones. Some experts choose to remove the buds and dry them spaced out on ‘shelves’ of netting.
How fast cannabis dries will, naturally, depend on the humidity and temperature of the area. Expert growers know never to rush the drying or curing process. The best results are obtained by a conscious, slow and deliberate method. Only inexperienced growers attempt to dry their cannabis by putting it in the microwave oven or on a radiator and expect anything more than dismal results.
Usually, the average drying process takes about 7 days, perhaps a little longer. To slow down the drying process, some growers place the already picked buds into a sealable brown paper bag or envelope for a few days. The importance of using brown paper, specifically, is because it contains no bleach and, thanks to its permeability, it lets enough moisture seep out slowly. When the smallest branches dry out enough and start to snap, it is a clear indication that the moisture content of the buds has also decreased sufficiently to commence curing said buds. A sure sign of this will be that the buds’ outer layer will feel slightly crispy.
As it cures, the moisture will evaporate completely. This is very important because this is the only way the buds will be prevented from going mouldy and keep for months or even years at a time. During the curing process, the full-bodied aroma and taste is released, which means optimal pleasure satisfaction and pleasure for when it is consumed. Sadly, proper drying and curing processes are so often overlooked in cannabis cultivation, especially amongst black market vendors. This is the main reason that home-growing is becoming an ever more popular option; the result is a vastly higher quality product than what can be purchased on the street.
It is not an overstatement to say that the final part of the curing process for cannabis is probably the single most important part of its supply. People often use glass jars for this purpose; plastic is infinitely less preferred. One should place the chopped buds into the jar, remembering to always leave one or two centimetres free at the top. Close the jar tightly and keep it in the dark. Then open them once or twice a day to allow any moisture to escape. The minimum treatment time is no less than two to three weeks, though many experts leave it for much longer, saying that one to two months produces the ideal results. The buds thus treated taste clean and free of chlorophyll. Ripe buds should be stored in the freezer, because the cold preserves the strength of the plant and maintains its quality. For long-term storage, do not store the buds in warm clement temperatures, such as in attics or storage cupboards etc.
No one wants the experience of opening their prized jars of buds, after all the work and effort that has gone into getting them there, only to find that the buds are growing mould and unusable (simply because they were placed there before they were properly dry). Conversely, equally frustrating is opening said jar and being met with excessively dried out and crispy buds (that will look old and shrivelled) with a bitter and unpleasant taste. Again, unusable. The ideal result is, of course, if the bud taken from the opened jar has an optimal mood-enhancing effect, a pleasant aroma and a fresh taste. An excellent way to get this desired result is to use humidity-control bags. These are essentially sachets/packets that can be placed in the jars, which will give off moisture if the buds are too dry, and absorb excess moisture when there is too much. There are numerous options widely available online.