Decarbing: New School vs Old

Before cannabis can be used in a recipe, it must be activated—or decarboxylated—to maximize its benefits. Traditionally, decarbing meant heating the buds at low temperature in the oven. This method, however, can destroy flavor and create bitterness. Decarbing sous vide, on the other hand, eliminates the unevenness of the old-school method and preserves the floral and fragrant flavors of the terpenes. Choose a strain that best complements or contrasts with your recipe; like wine, cannabis can have wide-ranging characteristics, from sweet and earthy to citrusy and berrylike. Also, consider the desired effect; certain strains are championed for their anti-inflammatory abilities, while others are known to help maintain focus or even reduce appetite.

A dispensary budtender can help steer you in the right direction.

Sous Vide Decarboxylation

  • Immersion stick circulator
  • 3.5 grams cannabis flower, about ⅛ ounce
  • 3 tablespoons distilled water
  • 1 vacuum-sealable bag

Set immersion circulator to 250 F and place into medium-sized saucepan filled with water. Coarsely grind cannabis buds and place into vacuum bag with distilled water. Seal bag completely with vacuum sealer. When circulator reaches 250 F, drop sealed bag into water and decarb for 30 minutes. Rotate bag every 5-10 minutes. Transfer bag to bowl of ice water to stop cooking and preserve terpenes; cool. Use in your favorite infusion.

Old school: You don’t need special equipment to decarb your bud. To activate THC and other cannabinoids, simply spread coarsely ground cannabis in a thin layer onto a baking sheet, cover with foil and heat in oven for 1 hour at 225 F.

Photography by Paul Strabbing


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