Curing Cannabis: Why It’s Important and How to Do It Properly
Monday February 19, 2018
T here’s no one secret to producing great cannabis – the best cannabis is the product of premium genetics, careful cultivation, precise pruning, timely trimming and, finally, a slow-and-steady curing process.
The necessity of this last step should not be understated. A proper curing process (though timely and kind of boring) is key to producing that smooth, flavorful (and yes, more potent) smoke sesh that’s characteristic of only the finest green, and we’ll tell you exactly how to do it right. But before we do that, let’s look at why curing cannabis is so important in the first place.
Curing for Preservation Purposes
People have been curing their food for as long as there has been civilization. In fact, the ability of ancient humans to cure (and thus store) food for later consumption may have been the most important step to creating civilize societies.
No longer was it necessary to consume food as soon as it was harvested or hunted; food preservation via various curing processes meant people could reap bountiful harvest then save it for later instead of always having to be on the prowl for their next meal.
Though many curing methods have been used over the years, the goal is always the same: to remove bacteria for long-term storage.
This is done to meats using preservatives like salts, sugars and nitrites, but when it comes to cannabis, we rely on nothing more than patience and persistence.
Benefits to Properly Curing Cannabis
Though every vegetable requires a different curing process for the best outcome, the goal is the same: to preserve the product while retaining vital flavors, nutrients and in the case of cannabis, cannabinoids.
Proper curing stops the degradation process before volatile compounds like terpenes and cannabinoids evaporate or transform into less favorable compounds.
From the moment the crop is harvested it begins to degrade as enzymes and aerobic bacteria break down excess sugars and starches. Curing cannabis essentially forces the plant to use up those sugars, starches and excessive nutrients before they’ve had the chance to dry out and get stuck inside the plant.
If you’ve ever wondered why some cannabis is harsher or less flavorful when you smoke it, it is because these residual components have not been properly cured out of the plant prior to drying and/or distribution to the consumer. A good cannabis cure will not only improve the flavor and smoothness of a smoke sesh, it will also improve product potency, too!
That’s because cannabinoid synthesis (the process of creating those valuable chemicals) continues even after harvest.
When freshly-harvested cannabis flowers are kept at the proper temperature and humidity, non-psychoactive cannabinoids will continue to transform into THCa, a precursor to psychoactive THC.
How to Cure Cannabis
To effectively cure your harvested cannabis (if you’re unsure when to harvest, click here), begin by hanging trimmed bud upside down in a dark room from a laundry line or clothing hangers. Buds that are still attached to the stock will hang easily at the node while smaller, “popcorn” buds may need to be dried on a screen to encourage airflow.
The room should ideally be kept between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level between 45 and 55 percent to help preserve the terpene content of the bud.
After one to two weeks, the stems should gently break when bent (instead of folding like they do when they’re fresh) and the outside of the flower should be slightly crisp. When this happens, it’s time for the next step: sweating your bud. You’ll do this by removing the bud from the larger stems (use this time to finish manicuring them if necessary) and placing them in sealable containers.
Set the containers in a cool, dark location then return multiple times daily to open (or “burp”) the containers which removes excess moisture by drawing it out through the bud slowly while keeping the oxygen content fresh.
Note: if you notice the smell of mold or ammonia after burping your containers the first few times, it likely means the bud is not dry enough to cure yet. Remove the buds from the jars and continue air-drying for a few more days to avoid mold.
After a few weeks, you’ll be able to burp your containers less frequently (once every few days to a week, for example) while the bud continues curing. Though your bud will be fine to smoke after two to four weeks, continued curing for four to eight weeks or more will improve the flavor and potency even more. Properly cured cannabis can be stored for up to six months in these containers or for long-term storage, it can be kept in vacuum-sealed storage for a year or more.
You don’t have to be an experienced cannabis cultivator to produce high-quality bud at home. Ideal strain and grow conditions aside, the best bud always takes a bit more love and attention, and the curing process is no exception.
Taking the time to properly cure your cannabis will pay off big-time, and earn you some awesome bragging rights, to boot.
Interested in growing? Click here to purchase your own seeds and start growing today!
Do you have any tips for curing cannabis? Share them with our readers below.
Curing your cannabis is extremely important if you want high-quality flower. From flavor and smoothness all the way to potency, curing affects many aspects of the plant.
A Beginner’s Guide to Curing Your Cannabis
Curing your marijuana flower will increase its potency and shelf life, and produce a more flavorful end product. Keep reading to learn how to cure marijuana.
You’ve spent months growing and caring for your cannabis to produce healthy flowers, or “buds.” While you may be tempted to dry and use your harvested cannabis as quickly as possible, taking the extra time to properly cure your marijuana flower will lead to a significantly better final product.
What Is Curing Marijuana?
Curing your cannabis is the final step in growing and harvesting your own dried marijuana flower for consumption, whether that is by smoking, vaping, making edibles, or more. Curing of marijuana happens directly after the plant has been harvested. It is a prolonged drying process that uses environmentally controlled conditions to remove the moisture from your cannabis flowers and allow the plant’s cannabinoid and terpene packed oil to fully mature.
Why Is Curing Marijuana Important?
Curing is a crucial, yet overlooked, aspect of cannabis cultivation that makes a considerable impact on the final quality of marijuana flower.
As an overview, curing and drying your marijuana after harvest:
- Increases the potency of your marijuana
- Prolongs the shelf life of your marijuana
- Improves the flavor and smell of your marijuana
Marijuana growers primarily cure their flower because it’s an essential process for preserving the potency of the flower’s compounds and other natural constituents. This is particularly important if you’re growing medical marijuana and relying on particular cannabinoids.
The curing process encourages partial decarboxylation, a process that converts certain compounds into new ones. For example, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), found in fresh cannabis, gradually turns into the highly sought after cannabidiol ( CBD ) during the drying process, while tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) becomes the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Properly cured marijuana flower stays potent and flavorful for much longer than uncured marijuana, which can become moldy relatively quickly. This is particularly important if you’re hoping to store your marijuana for future use, or rely on always having enough that’s ready to use between harvests. Well-cured marijuana flower can last for up to two years if stored in an airtight, moisture controlled container in a cool, dark place.
Curing marijuana flower after harvest also enhances its flavor and smell. A slow curing process preserves the flower’s terpenes, the aromatic compounds that give cannabis its unique flavor and smell. Curing helps ensure that the flower’s subtle flavor undertones are more pronounced, while uncured, wet flower can have a grassy or hay-like flavor.
How Long Does It Take to Dry Marijuana?
The cannabis curing process — from once the flowers are harvested to when they are ready for consumption — usually takes about a month.
There are two major steps in the curing cannabis process:
- The initial drying step takes up to two weeks, depending on how the cannabis plant was grown and the humidity where the flower is placed to dry.
- The final cannabis curing step takes a minimum of two weeks, but some growers find that curing for 4-8 weeks produces greater results.
How to Cure Marijuana?
If you look up how long to cure cannabis, you’ll find multiple answers. While there are several ways to cure cannabis flower, most people use a variation of a single popular method that has shown to regularly produce high-quality buds that are ideal for consumption.
Here’s a look, based on that popular method, at how to dry and cure cannabis.
Step One: Initial Dry Trim Process
Experienced marijuana growers typically use an initial drying process that aids in slowing the rate of evaporation to prevent the plants from drying out too quickly.
- Cut branches 12-16” long from your cannabis plants and remove unwanted leaves.
- Hang the branches from thick string or wire.
- Store the hanging branches in a dark room with temperatures kept at 60°-75°F and humidity at 45-55 percent. To optimally preserve the flower’s flavor and aroma, add a small fan to the room to gently circulate the air.
- Around 5-15 days later, or once the flowers feel slightly crunchy and small branches easily snap off, gently take the branches down and proceed to the next step.
Step Two: Cannabis Flower Curing
Once your cannabis flower is mostly dry, it’s time to move on to the final curing step. This can take a few weeks and a little bit of diligence, but proper marijuana curing is key for optimal taste and potency.
- Collect multiple airtight containers (but not plastic bags). Growers commonly use quart-sized, wide-mouthed canning jars. Tinted jars are ideal because they help prevent UV light from seeping in and degrading the flower’s compounds.
- Trim the flowers from the plant’s branches.
- Pack the flowers loosely inside the airtight containers, filling them about ¾ of the way to the top without crushing the buds.
- Seal the containers and store them in a spot that’s cool, dry, and dark.
- During the first week, open the containers for 5-10 minutes several times per day. This allows the moisture leaving the flowers to escape and replenishes the oxygen inside the container.
- After the first week, open the containers just once every few days to let the flowers breathe for a few minutes.
- Continue the curing process for at least 2-3 weeks. Many growers find that curing for 4-8 weeks improves the quality of the flower even more.
After the curing process, the exposure to air can oxidize and degrade the cannabis, so it should be avoided. Keep your well-dried buds in the airtight jars. If you plan to store your cured flower long-term, a vacuum sealer may be beneficial. You can learn more about storing marijuana on our Cannabis 101 page.
Learn More about Growing Marijuana
With laws related to medical marijuana and recreational marijuana expanding legal access throughout the United States, more people are interested in learning how to grow and harvest their own cannabis.
Learn more about how to produce healthy cannabis flowers here , and discover more about the benefits of cannabis through our research and education page .
Curing your marijuana flower will increase its potency and shelf life, and produce a more flavorful and enjoyable end product.