Eat your greens – ways to use fan leaves
The five-tipped green pot leaf is iconically used in cannabis branding, design, and even jewelry. Cultivators sometimes spend hours in the garden pulling fan leaves so that the lower nugs can get more light, but instead of throwing them away– the inventive growers use them in a variety of ways. Sure, they won’t get you high like a blunt filled with sparkling flower, but consuming fan leaves has benefits.
A study of compounds in fan leaves taken from the top portion of a cannabis plant showed minute concentrations of cannabinoids and higher quantities of minerals. The marijuana leaves contained hundreds of milligrams of potassium, calcium, and manganese, among other minerals. Other research shows the leaves also contain antioxidants and beneficial chlorophyll.
The nutrients and minerals are a great reason to eat them, but that’s not the only way people are enjoying this unsung hero. Here are the best ways people use their pot leaves, whether they’re eating them in salads or rolling them up.
Fresh juiced leaves can deliver a solid amount of vital nutrients in one cup. Juicing cannabis leaves can do the same, whether you add them to a recipe or drink them straight. The best way to drink pot leaves is to wash and juice them, but there are some tricks to getting the most out of leafy greens in a commercial juicer.
Roll the leaves up to help a juicer macerate them, or get a wheatgrass juicer designed for leafier fodder. For those working with a juicer powered by centrifugal force, rolling the leaves and combining them with denser plants can maximize the cannabis leaf juice output.
The experience of enjoying a cannagar is one-of-a-kind, and it’s only accentuated when you roll up a cannabis leaf. Cannagars aren’t just blunts with a different name, they are compacted flower with a hollow center that causes them to smoke slowly and thick like a cigar.
Most people roll these heavy hitters up with a mold, which sets and compacts the shape. After setting the base, you wrap the torpedo up with fan leaves. Check out this simple tutorial from Purple Rose Supply, just don’t forget to wash your fan leaves before starting.
Rather than juicing, some eat fan leaves raw in salads. But like kale varieties, the leaves have veins that can make the leaves unpalatable. To combat this, Emily Kyle suggests using younger fan leaves for salads and reserving more aged, tenuous leaves for juicing. Check out her salad recipes for inventive ways to use young marijuana leaves.
Chef Michael Magliano is known for another application of fan leaves. The Los Angeles-based chef breads a whole hemp leaf with heavily peppered chickpea flour batter before frying each one to a perfect golden brown. He describes the flavor as similar to a kale chip. He used leaves from Ziese Farms which describe themselves as the first federally legal hemp farm.
“I like the visual impact used in this form, and it created a medium as well to add more flavor at times, such as hot Cheeto, ranch, or sumac and pepper,” Chef Magliano shared.
Though the chef is not serving fried hemp leaves out of a kitchen right now, he did formulate products for Pantry, which are available to California consumers.
Other culinary applications
A member of Grass City Forum also pontificated on using cannabis leaves instead of grape leaves in dolmas. Dolmas are a Persian dish (also made in Mediterranean cultures) of grape leaves stuffed with vegetables. Though we haven’t seen this one executed, it sounds like a brilliant idea.
Italian food lovers could try a fan leaf pesto. Emily Kyle suggests replacing a cup of basil with one cup of loosely packed cannabis leaf in your favorite pesto recipe. A friend of GreenState found the resulting sauce a bit bitter, but perhaps choosing younger fan leaves could alleviate this quality.
When left on the plant to age, the leaves become bitter and hard to chew. But the young leaves could be a viable new green for sauces, stir-fry, and other dishes. Chef Magliano agreed. He recommends cutting the leaves into a tabbouleh, making chimichurri, and wilting them with pea shoots and garlic in a dynamic oil such as sesame, as a few satisfying options.
The same antioxidants and minerals in cannabis leaves that are beneficial in our diet also protect and repair the skin. Antioxidants are helpful to defend and repair skin that comes in contact with pollutants in the air. Zinc, also found in the leaves, can reduce inflammation when applied topically. The list goes on. Calcium, for example, can promote smoother, more even skin when applied topically.
Whether these compounds are readily accessible through the skin is unresearched, but other studies suggest cannabinoids are– which has to be a good sign for other compounds in the plant.
To make topicals with fan leaves, wash them and use them the same way you would butter. Decarboxylate the leaves and add them to a crockpot or infusion machine. Both options use heat, time, and sometimes agitation to extract compounds from the plant matter.
Homestead and Chill use cannabis, coconut oil, olive oil, and beeswax to get the desired consistency in their homemade cannabis balm. You can also add essential oils or other herbs for additional benefits or intentional aroma.
Composting is always an option for those who don’t have time to process and utilize fan leaves before they dry out. How a farmer compost is as personal as their soil recipe, everyone does it a bit differently.
Some throw the dry leaves into the compost pile to do their thing. But one Reddit user recommends making compost tea with them. Just put the leaves in a bucket of water and let them sit for a bit, and voila: compost tea. The tea can be fed to plants or used to moisten the pile, promoting the growth of beneficial microbes.
Cannabis fan leaves don’t have to go into the compost pile, although that’s a valid option. The iconic, often discarded marijuana leaf can be used in various ways. Before tossing the pile or soaking it for compost tea, it may be time to consume or roll up that pot leaf.