Cannabis Cooking Basics with Laurie Wolf: Three tricks to stop cannabis cooking odor

October 9, 2017
Dean Fosdick
(AP Photo/Dean Fosdick)
SOURCE: Dean Fosdick

Celebrity cannabis chef Laurie Wolf takes you from zero to hero in the kitchen with our series, "Cannabis Cooking Basic with Laurie Wolf". This week, three ways to eliminate cannabis odor while cooking!

After receiving a ton of emails, it’s clear the smell of cannabis during cooking is a significant concern. Actually — the cooking is not the problem, it’s the decarboxylation (aka activation) and the butter or oil production that produces the “everyone in the neighborhood is going to know!” odor. The smell permeates the house, wafts out the windows, and as far as I can tell, no fans or sprays makes a difference. When I decarb at home I take a page from a real estate agents handbook. Always have a pot of tomato sauce simmering on the stove (see recipe below).

Fortunately, there are three methods that will allow you to keep your secret. I’ve used them all, and they are game changers. Let’s take a look at each method; the technique is up to you.

The Mason Jar Method

With some precautions, The Mason Jar technique is virtually smell-free. Remember that a water bath does not allow the contents to get any hotter than the surrounding water. This method is also a great way to infuse butter or oil, another smelly yet lovely task.
Special tools: N/A
Ingredients: cannabis flower buds and/or shake
  1. Place the cannabis in a mason jar. Seal. Place your jar(s) in a water bath in the oven, or crockpot. Make sure the water level outside the jar matches the cannabis’ level in the jar. Set the temperature of the oven to 200°F or the crockpot setting on low.
  2. Heat for three hours. Be sure to add hot water as it evaporates.
  3. Allow the jars to cool at room temperature before opening.
  4. Now you got activated cannabis to grind into flour, infuse into honey, or butter and your house doesn’t smell like a Michael Franti concert.

The Turkey Bag Method

This is an easy technique that keeps the smell to a minimum. Some folks like to use two bags, placing the second bag over the first bag put in sealed part first.

Special tools: turkey bags
Ingredients: cannabis flower buds and/or shake
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 240°F.
  2. Place the cannabis in a turkey-roasting bag. Seal the bag well.
  3. Heat for 45 minutes, shaking a couple of times. Remove the bag from the oven and allow to cool completely before opening. If you can open the bag by a window you will further hide the smell.
  4. Now you got activated cannabis to grind into flour, infuse into honey, or oil and your house doesn’t smell like Woody Harrelson’s closet.

The Sous Vide Method

This is an interesting (and increasingly popular) cooking method. Sous vide, “under vacuum” in French, is the process of cooking food using vacuum-sealed food a water bath to a precise temperature. The contents of your vacuum sealed bag comes to the exact temperature of your water bath. This method is also an easy, non-smelly way to infuse butter or oil.
Special tools: sous vide machine; vacuum sealer
Ingredients: cannabis flower buds and/or shake
  1. Set the sous vide machine to 210°F.
  2. Vacuum seal the bag with cannabis.
  3. Cook the cannabis for 4 hours.
  4. Remove and dry the bag. Allow contents to come to room temperature before opening.
  5. Now you got activated cannabis to grind into flour, infuse into honey, or oil and your house doesn’t smell like Seth Rogen’s beard.

Infused Tomato Sauce

Keep a pot simmering on the stove for additional protection.

(recipe from HERB: Master the Art of Cooking with Cannabis)

Makes 4 cups
Special tools: N/A
  • 1/3 cup cannabis-infused olive oil
  • 1⁄2 large red onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (6-ounce) can of tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the canna-olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent.
  2. Pour the whole, peeled tomatoes and their juice into a large glass bowl and crush them with a potato masher or by hand.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to the pan and stir until smooth. Cook three more minutes.
  4. Stir in the remaining ingredients (except the fresh basil, if using), mixing well. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer the sauce for 25 minutes. If you’re using the fresh basil, tear the leaves into small pieces and stir them into the sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings.
  5. Simmer for another five minutes and serve.