I came late to cannabutter, which doesn’t make much sense. A Northern California upbringing and affinity for kitchen projects should spell an illustrious relationship with infused baking, but the truth is I didn’t get into making my own edibles until after college. I followed all of the guidelines I got from friends and the internet: I started small, experimented with flavor complements (peanut butter = great! lime = interesting!), and learned as I went. But even as I developed some halfway decent skills, I always felt there was untapped potential in the shiny greenish concoction I’d brewed on the stove. The science was clear, but the art was murky. I had questions only a professional could answer.
Unsalted butter—or oil, or lard (we’ll get there)—is the key to baking with weed because of its high fat content, says Miguel Trinidad, chef and owner of New York’s Jeepney Filipino Gastropub and 99th Floor, a cannabis supper club. Infusing fat with cannabis means imbuing it with cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) and terpenes (the compounds responsible for weed’s flavor and smell) that you extract with time and heat; the fat acts as a carrier and integrates these features throughout whatever recipe you use.
Making edibles at home is practical for a few reasons. Managing dosing yourself means creating a product that packs your ideal punch—your cookies can be as potent or low-key as you wish and change from batch to batch. Also, the up-charge on store-bought edibles is much higher than it is on cannabis flower, says Monica Lo, a San Francisco-based creative director and blogger behind Sous Weed, a resource for cooking with cannabis. Thanks to new licensing costs and taxes, it’s much more cost effective to get into the homemade baking game.
One thing to remember before you begin: Good cannabutter isn’t a way to use up bad or old weed. “I always tell people it’s not like cooking with wine,” says Sheila Mitchell, the pastry chef behind popular Los Angeles cannabis baking pop-ups and the very newly launched Rose Gold Pastries. “Quality matters. Most people use shake”—that is, scraps and pieces that have fallen off of bigger buds—“but you want higher quality shake to bake with. Cheap weed means pungent flavor but no power.” Striking a balance of potency and taste is the goal when baking with cannabis, and with a little guidance, it’s easier to do than you might imagine.
Published: March 22, 2021
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News