How to cure cannabis: patience key for perfect pot
Many people think that cannabis is ready to smoke once harvested and dried. But the truth is one more step is needed for pot to be truly perfect: the cure.
Curing cannabis is a crucial period where any remaining water is distributed through the buds. Typically lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, curing gives flower a more even and flavorful smoke. Without it, the weed experience is bland, harsh, and not the vibe.
Just like when you dry cannabis, curing must be done carefully. If cured improperly, buds may be at risk of mold—or may simply not be the best can be.
GreenState looked to growing guru and resident GreenState resource Ed Rosenthal to learn about different curing techniques and how the process creates a better bud.
Curing 101 – why do we cure weed?
Curing cannabis is an important part of the production process since it’s where bud comes into its own, developing its unique flavor and aroma. Any remaining chlorophyll in the plant breaks down while moisture spreads throughout the buds. If you’ve ever smoked some weed and got a taste of a freshly mowed lawn, there’s a good chance it wasn’t properly cured.
“Curing is essential to the taste and experience of the finished buds,” Rosenthal writes in the Cannabis Growers Handbook. “Like aged wines, well-cured buds are smooth and flavorful. Uncured buds still ‘work’ but are not nearly as enjoyable or desirable.”
In addition to creating a more robust smoking experience, curing also helps keep weed safe. Drying weed may get most of the water out, but likely not all. If you go straight from drying to airtight storage, there’s a good chance mold and mildew may develop, ruining your stash.
How to cure cannabis
The first thing to consider when entering the cure phase is whether your cannabis is ready to make the jump from drying. The moisture levels in buds should be between 11 and 12 percent. If you don’t have a moisture meter to confirm this level, a simple touch test will suffice.
“Buds should feel dry to the touch yet remain slightly spongy when squeezed. The stems at the base of each bud should break or snap when bent, while the bud’s inner stem should remain lightly pliable,” Rosenthal specified in his text.
According to the Cannabis Growers Handbook, the first step to curing is to place buds loosely in an enclosed container or bag, filling it about three-quarters of the way and leaving space for air at the top. Some cultivators use glass jars, plastic or stainless steel bins, or paper bags. Others may place their dried weed on trays, in boxes, or hung on lines. his is called open-air curing and is a great option if you have space and a controlled environment.
It’s important to note that curing cannabis in closed containers has downsides. As buds release moisture, the humidity in the container goes up, which may lead to mold. Many people use two-way humidity control packs like those from Boveda to help prevent issues.
If using a jar or plastic tote to cure, it’s crucial to “burp” your containers regularly by opening the container for a few minutes and gently swirling buds to move air around. You will want to do this every day for the first week of the curing process and every few after that. If you smell ammonia when you open the jar, that’s an early sign of mold. Leave the container open for 12-24 hours before starting the process again.
The environment where you cure needs to be just right. The optimal temperature is 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit with 50-55 percent humidity. Continual airflow is crucial, so ensure you always have oscillating and/or ceiling fans going on their lowest setting.
Curing tools to help you go the distance
While all you really need to cure is some containers, fans, and an ideal environment, there are a few extras that may make the process go even smoother. As mentioned above, Boveda packs are one good thing to have around since they can give off and absorb moisture as needed.
Many people are now using Grove Bags to cure in lieu of jars or totes. Designed specifically for cannabis storage, these bags do not require burping and help buds retain their aromatic terpenes through its patented TerpLoc© technology.
For the craft cultivator (or high-tech home grower), Cryo Cure or Cannatrol are also excellent investments. These devices dry and cure buds quickly, sometimes in less than a day. While these high-tech solutions may cost a pretty penny, they can be worth it for folks looking to cure a lot of cannabis at once (or who don’t want to wait another month to smoke).
How long does curing cannabis take?
In ideal conditions, the curing phase will take between 10 and 30 days, although some growers take even longer. The key is to go to “low and slow,” as the more patient you are, the better bud will be when all is said and done.
Cannabis buds are officially done curing when they are between 8-11 percent moisture content. Rosenthal offers a simple smell and sight test for those without moisture meters.
“By the end of the cure, all hay-like odors should be gone, and terpenes should be prominent,” he writes. “A bud’s pigments are expressed more without chlorophyll’s green dominance.”
Growing cannabis is rewarding, and when the plants are finally ready to take down, it can be tempting to skip the important post-harvest steps. But cultivators who are patient and properly cure their bud will find their hard work will pay off in dividends via a deliciously rich smoke.