Curing Cannabis flower
During the initial drying process, buds typically dry in the open air, which results in up to 70% of the plants’ weight lost to moisture before removal of trimmings (stems, branches, and leaves)
Before use in cannabis products, the plant(s) must dry and cure. Drying removes most of the moisture from the plant, while curing affects its flavor profile and effects.
Even a slight deviation from optimal conditions can negatively affect the quality of the final product when drying and curing cannabis.
Discover why cannabis needs to be dried and cured and the main factors to consider when establishing your method.
Drying and curing Cannabis
As soon as the buds have bloomed, the plants are harvested, trimmed, dried, and cured. The most common method of curing is to hang the buds upside down after harvest, as the THC runs down the buds and collects at the tips. Aside from preventing spoilage and microbial growth, drying cannabis plants properly also extends shelf life.
Maintaining strict environmental conditions while plants are stored in containers is essential. Drying flower facilitates homogenization of moisture and humidity within batches of dried flower. Curing cannabis influences the flavor profile, chlorophyll content, potency, and smokability of the buds, but not their cannabinoid composition.
By removing moisture and unwanted sugars, the curing and drying processes enhance cannabis flower aroma and flavor and prepare it for consumption by preventing a burning sensation in the throat caused by the presence of water.
Drying and Curing
It is essential to dry and cure flowers properly to retain a high level of secondary metabolites, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, to promote long-term storage while removing moisture from the cannabis. These compounds determine the taste and effects of the finished flower.
However, depending on the product type, cannabis may not always require careful drying and curing. For example, plants harvested to produce live resin products can be freeze-dried shortly after harvest.
Likewise, terpenes and other heat-sensitive molecules will be re-added to the final product in other extraction processes where temperature, pressure, or solvent are used.
In light of this, the following sections focus on processes for consuming plant material as flower (bud) rather than extract.
How to dry and trim Cannabis
Immediately after harvest, the drying process begins, and it is important to do it correctly. Different strains will require different approaches to drying, but removing as much water as possible during the first 24 hours is critical.
Depending on the trimming process that you choose, you will need to use different setups for drying the plant:
Once plants have dried, you can hang them from a line or hanger during trimming. In order for buds to dry evenly and not misshapen, they are hung. Branches that bend need to be dried out more if they snap; they are ready to trim and cure.
To determine whether a plant is ready for curing, you can use a water activity meter. Moving on to the curing process is considered safe if the water activity is below 0.6-0.65 Aw. You can also use a moisture meter; flower buds should be less than 13 percent wet.
When you trim plants before drying, they will be smaller, so a rack will be necessary. To determine when buds are ready to cure, squeeze them. They will need more time to cure if they feel wet or moist.
During drying, temperature, humidity, airflow, and lighting are the most important factors to consider. There is a great deal of variation across the industry in cultivating and storing cannabis plants, so these parameters are not exact but vary within acceptable ranges. You should reduce moisture levels early in the drying process, within the first three to four days, and then gradually reduce them over the next one to two weeks until they are acceptable.
Cannabis drying temperature
The temperature needs to be warm enough for the product to lose its moisture, but it is crucial to find a balance. It is essential to dry the product slowly to avoid volatilizing the terpenes or overdrying it. Temperatures can range from 55 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit for drying, while degradation can begin at 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
The terpene myrcene, found in mangoes, is one example of a terpene that volatilizes when exposed to low temperatures. It is vital to keep the drying space at a low temperature to preserve it aromas and flavors.
The humidity needed for drying cannabis
Cannabis should be dried between 40-60 percent relative humidity to avoid mold growth. Heavy drying can result in the product crumbling into dust when overdried.
Furthermore, moving the air around the plants while hanging is essential. Air should be filtered and fresh at all times. Ensure that air purifiers, dehumidifiers, fans, and filters are cleaned regularly. It is also imperative to control the light during this process, as plants will rapidly degrade without it.
Cannabis drying time
Depending on the strain, cannabis plants typically dry in seven to ten days. Different strains require different amounts of cure and dry time, which the environment can influence.
To preserve the integrity of terpenes and cannabinoids, it is imperative to maintain darkness. We recommended keeping the conditions between 50-60 percent humidity and 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Following these steps should reduce roughly 80% of the moisture.
How to cure Cannabis
Once the initial drying phase is complete, the curing process can begin. Curing will not improve the quality of poorly grown plants, but it is easy to damage one that has been adequately grown—following these steps will ensure the plant is enjoyable to smoke and display. After trimming, it is advisable to pack glass mason jars with the buds loosely.
A one-size-fits-all approach is not possible since this is an artisanal process. Curing tubes and buckets with or without container liners are often used in large-scale operations. Paper bags or wooden boxes are porous, so some producers cure plants there.
It typically takes a little longer to cure plants than to dry them, as they need to be in a dark environment with a moisture level between 40-50% and a temperature below 70° for several months to a week. It is essential to check for mold and other contaminants regularly and to open the curing vessel regularly during this process.
Cured Cannabis Flower
Curing is not a set-it-and-forget-it process; It is a must that you monitor the plant frequently for moisture distribution. To let gases like ethylene and C02 escape and oxygen enter, you must open vessels at regular intervals. Containers should also be opened for two to three hours if there are any signs of mold. Too much moisture may produce an ammonia smell, which indicates the presence of anaerobic bacteria.
As a general rule, the best way to cure and dry cannabis is by following the low and slow-approach, being patient, and never rushing. When you cure your cannabis at low temperatures, you will be able to produce more secondary metabolites, and your product will be cleaner, smoother, and more flavorful if you cure it for a more extended period.
Don’t stop there if you have already followed these steps and have grown an awesome strain. Join Grow and Share to meet other cannabis enthusiasts for free and share your strain, along with acquiring the strains you desire, so you don’t have to smoke just what you’ve grown. Another great platform for cannabis information is our forum, where you can ask other enthusiasts questions about anything cannabis related.
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