Your months of hard work in the garden have paid off and your crop is almost ready to go. Your plants are harvested and the nugs are trimmed and dried. The next steps you take will determine not only the potency of your cannabis but its essence, flavor and aroma. The curing process is essential in putting the finishing touches on the beautiful green buds you’ve worked so hard to grow. Proper curing and storage of your finely crafted buds will make or break your finished product.
The first step in properly curing your cannabis is making sure your buds are properly dried. You want your buds in an optimal moisture zone. When a plant is harvested, it will lose 80 per cent of its moisture before it is consumable.
You want to start the curing process before your buds get to that point. Ideally you want your buds at around 30 to 35 per cent moisture, a fraction of their original wet weight. Any more moisture than that and you risk the development of mildew and mold once sealed in an airtight environment. If you dried your flowers too long or at too high of a temperature, you may need to rehydrate them.
Just make sure that your weed is in that Goldilocks zone before you begin your cure. If you are not sure, you can test your bud by simply bending a stem. If the stem breaks or starts to break, then it is sufficiently dry. If it continues to bend, it should probably dry for another day or more.
One of the chemical secrets to curing is cannabergerol, or CBG. Cannabergerol is the chemical precursor found in cannabis that metabolizes into THC. It is believed that CBG has profound medical impact on its own. CBG reduces pressure in cell walls and is a big part of cannabis treatment for glaucoma. It is considered to be the primary cannabinoid, as it is broken down inside the plant in order to create THCA, CBDA and CBCA. We are all familiar with THC and CBD but CBC, or cannabichromenic acid, is by far the lesser known of the cannabinoids. Due to its involvement in the creation of other cannabinoids, CBG is usually found in concentrations of less than one per cent in finished products.
After the plant is harvested, the metabolic process that creates THC from CBG continues. This results in THC levels rising long after the buds have been collected. Some people choose to begin the curing process in paper bags to make sure they are adequately dry. I haven’t found this to be a necessity, so I go straight for airtight glass jars. A mason jar or a jar with a flip-tight lid are optimal as they perfectly seal and keep air out. You will want to place as much marijuana in your jar as possible in order to force out as much of the remaining air as you can. Always date your jars so as to not confuse them with other batches you may have already started.
Creating Potency and Flavor of Cannabis Through Proper Curing Techniques
The primary functions of curing are potency and flavor. As the chemical components of the plant matter break down over time, it shifts the taste from an overly earthy and green flavor to flavors that are more palatable and that we can more readily associate with particular strains. This process is conducted by aerobic bacteria present in the plant at the time of harvest. The bacteria consume the chlorophyll in the cannabis making the taste and overall experience less harsh. Just like your grow, your curing buds thrive in a micro-environment dependent on specific conditions in order to nurture the process. If your buds are overly moist when you start to cure, you run the risk of allowing mold to grow, which can lead to harmful bacteria destroying the fruits of your labor.
It is important to keep your cure in a dark room or storage area. Light will degrade THC and interfere with the metabolic process taking place in your jars. Maintenance of the micro-environment is vital to keep your good bacteria thriving and your bad bacteria at bay. Your temperatures should be slightly lower than your growroom at around 50-75˚F. Now that you have an idea of what conditions you need to cure your cannabis, you can begin without further delay.
Burp Your Nugs
The key to curing your cannabis is burping your jars. That means after allowing the metabolic process to work, periodically opening your jars to let out the built up carbon dioxide and moisture the buds have shed. Every grower has their own schedule of burping and they all vary greatly. For buds that are in the right humidity zone, you should burp them daily for approximately 30 minutes.
Everyone will have an opinion on the time, however, 30 minutes is sufficient to expel the gasses and allow the micro-environment to return to an acceptable relative humidity. Some choose to use an RH meter to determine the amount of time they burp their buds. You should keep the relative humidity above 55 per cent.
Below that threshold your buds don’t have the moisture required to allow the metabolic process to continue. If you burp your nugs and find you still have a relative humidity more than 70 per cent then they need to come out of the jar and be allowed to dry more thoroughly. How long you cure for is really up to you.
Most growers will tell you that with daily burping under right conditions, your buds should be delicious and potent in three weeks to a month. Others who have cured their cannabis for months or even years claim that their product only improved the longer it cures. If you have the patience to cure your weed for six months or more, you are a better person than I.
Stick With Glass Jars for Curing Cannabis
Now that you have properly cured some dynamite bud, it is time to prep it for storage. Storing your weed under proper conditions will preserve your THC content and allow for quality consumption at a later date. I think it goes without saying, but never use plastic bags for storage, or anything else. Stick with your airtight glass jars. Some prefer dark-colored glass to prevent light from creeping in but if you are keeping your jars in a drawer or closet, clear jars are just fine. Glass doesn’t breathe like plastic. Avoid freezing your cannabis.
The freezing process turns the trichome brittle. You can end up damaging your buds when there is really no need. Molds and mildew will spread at high temperatures, so never allow your stored weed to go above 77˚F. All in all, keep your airtight jars of cannabis in a cool and dark location that won’t be disturbed by your day-to-day routine. For long-term storage, you still want to burp your jars once or twice a month just to let out the gasses your buds will continue to give off. The result will be cannabis that is as good, if not better than it was on the day it was stashed away.