There's nothing that can be compared to the feeling of a good harvest! After watching your buds grow and flower, it's finally the end of the cycle, so you can now collect your hard-earned buds. However, the process of growing weed doesn't stop at harvest time.
Before you get to enjoy a toke of the homegrown Kush, you need to dry and cure the freshly harvested cannabis plants. Properly drying and curing your cannabis stash is essential to prevent mold contamination. These vital procedures will also result in marijuana buds that offer a superior high and taste better.
Most growers don't fully understand the drying and curing process. Remember, even if you used beautiful flowers with super complex terpene profiles, you risk losing all these qualities if you don't dry and cure your we buds correctly.
Below, we'll share everything you need to know about drying and curing cannabis to help you maximize the potency and flavor of your stash.Enter your text here...
The Drying Process
After cutting down your marijuana plants during harvest, a proper dry is vital for your buds. But before you start drying and curing cannabis, it's wise to trim away the extra leaves. At least consider trimming away all the big fan leaves, though most gardeners also trim out the minute leaves that sprout on the buds.
Besides improving the appearance of your buds, cutting off even the tiny leaves provides a smoother experience. Remember, too much leafy matter can lead to more harsh buds. Generally, the amount of leaves you cut off depends on your personal preference.
However, you want to trim as many leaves as possible if you reside in an arid area. Alternatively, you want to cut off fewer leaves if your area is humid. This helps prevent mold and speeds up the drying process. If you live in a very humid place, you may consider removing the cannabis buds from the branches while drying.
Rather than throwing away your trim, you can save them for later use. These extra fresh leaves aren't suitable to smoke, but when dried, you can process them to make cannabis extracts, such as marijuana butter.
Wet Trimming vs. Dry Trimming
There are two cultivation strategies for trimming marijuana flowers from harvested cannabis: wet trimming and dry trimming. With the dry trimming process, you dry your cannabis plants first before trimming off the buds. When it comes to wet trimming, you cut your wet buds off undried plants, then dry them.
Depending on your preferred technique, you'll have to use a different drying method. But the general procedure will be the same. Irrespective of the trimming method, your cannabis must be in the same conditions. You should dry harvested marijuana in a dark room that's about 60°F and around 60% humidity.
An affordable hygrometer can help you measure the moisture content and heat of your drying room. If you want to adjust the humidity levels or room temperature, you can use a heater, a humidifier, an air conditioning unit, or a dehumidifier.
Besides keeping the dark environment at a specific temperature and humidity level, you must maintain fresh air circulation. A small fan can help you move the airflow around in the drying room. Remember that time is vital during the drying process, but your perfect drying time can vary based on whether you dry trim or wet trim.
How to Dry Marijuana When Dry Trimming
If you take the dry trimming route, you'll dry cannabis by hanging the cut branches upside down on a secluded drying line. That way, your flowers will be able to maintain a good shape as they dry. While hanging the branches, be careful not to create crowded conditions. Ensure you leave some space in between the branches to enhance maximum airflow.
After hanging the branches, let the buds slowly dry in the temperature and humidity-controlled room. But, how long should the entire process take? Generally, drying cannabis takes about seven to ten days. Note that slowly drying your branches instead of rushing the procedure using higher heat adds up to the quality of the final product.
Both dry and hot conditions can degrade your cannabinoids and terpenes. That's why exposing your cannabis to even slightly hot or mildly dry temperatures can make a significant impact on the quality of your dry trimmed buds.
Keep in mind that most gardeners cut off all their plant's fan leaves during harvest time before drying them, while others leave some leaves for the drying procedure. This is because the left fan leaves can slow down the dry time.
Make sure you check for dryness periodically during the entire cannabis drying process. You'll know the process is complete when your flowers start feeling dry on the outside, and the stems start to snap. Now's the time to do your final trimming.
Here, you'll remove all the remaining sugar leaves and fan leaves. But don't throw away the sugar leaves as they contain trichomes. Instead, retain these leaves and use them to make infusions or concentrates. Finally, take your dry trimmed buds and move on to the curing process.
How to Dry Marijuana When Wet Trimming
When using the wet trimming method, you'll need to dry the ready-cut buds on a flat rack. Luckily, you can easily find specially-made drying racks in local stores. Circular in shape with mesh racks, these cannabis drying flat racks are specially designed to promote proper airflow. You can also create your bud-drying line using either one or more hangers.
Drying cannabis buds is straightforward and faster than drying buds on branches. Typically, it takes about two to three days to dry wet-trimmed buds completely. So, touch your buds after three days and check whether or not they're still wet. If the buds aren't dry to the touch, leave them to dry and check for dryness the next day.
Curing cannabis plants is a long process that involves slowly removing moisture from your plant's buds under controlled environmental conditions. Curing is a preservation procedure that humans have used for decades to preserve meat and other degradable items, generally with the assistance of salts and sugars. However, you won't have to add anything to your stash.
People often mistake drying and curing cannabis as a single step, but these processes are done separately. Although they're done back-to-back, each procedure has its unique steps and its slightly different goals.
Drying cannabis is just as it sounds - removing most of the water content from your buds. This makes them easier to handle and more pleasant to smoke. Some growers enjoy blazing dry buds, but if you really want to take the potency and flavor of your harvest a notch higher, you need to cure the buds.
Why Should You Cure Cannabis Buds?
Patience is a virtue in life, and it undoubtedly pays off when curing cannabis. Although it seems like a hassle at first, curing will turn harsh and dump buds into smooth ones loaded with delicious smoke. During the drying process, buds typically produce byproducts, such as sugars.
When you smoke dried cannabis, these molecules leave a harsh and unpleasant taste in your mouth. Luckily, prolonged curing leads to the degradation of these byproducts, resulting in more profound and reflective cannabis and a buttery smooth smoke.
Curing cannabis also preserves desirable flavors. Terpenes are the molecules that give cannabis strains intense and unique flavors. These volatile compounds can degrade quickly under extensive heat, so proper drying along with prolonged curing is the best way to go for tantalizing buds.
Of course, the improved taste isn't the only importance of curing buds. The process can also promote the high itself. When you continue keeping freshly harvested cannabis flowers at the proper humidity and temperature, non-psychoactive cannabinoids continue transforming into THCa (precursor to psychoactive THC).
A proper cure also enhances your buds' shelf life and further minimizes the cases of mold. You can store well-cured cannabis flowers for up to a year or longer without a significant loss in taste or strength.
Factors Affecting the Curing Process
Before we dig deeper into how you can cure buds, let's first go through some common factors that influence the process. That way, you'll be able to gain a clear understanding of the things to focus on and what to avoid.
Protect Your Buds from Heat
Heat can only be a substantial concern if you reside in an area where it gets exceptionally hot. It leads to the degradation of cannabinoids, thus potentially reducing your bud's potency.
Ensure you keep your glass jars in a cool place to minimize damage. The perfect room temperature for curing cannabis is about 60°F.
Avoid Light Exposure
You need to keep your buds in the dark location during the curing process. Just like heat, light can cause the degradation of essential molecules, such as terpenes and THC.
Therefore, it's wise to keep your jars in a box or a dark cupboard. Alternatively, you can store your cannabis buds in unique glass jars that filter visible light like the miron jars for additional protection.
Find the Perfect Humidity Spot
Curing weed is a straightforward process as long as you begin with properly dried buds. Otherwise, excessive moisture will cause your buds to clump together, thus leading to mold formation. What's more, the moisture inside your jars will encourage anaerobic bacteria to break down your stash.
A red flag this is happening is when you notice an ammonia smell emerging from your jars whenever you open them. On the other hand, curing weed that's too dry can create a crumbly stash that's unpleasant to smoke.
That said, dry your flowers in a drying room with a humidity of about 55%. This will result in more humid interiors and slightly crumbly exteriors. And when it comes time for curing, increase the reading slightly to a perfect reading of about 62%.
The Curing Process
Now that we've looked at the vital factors affecting curing try to apply them as you start curing your weed. Curing marijuana simply involves opening and closing storage jars at the correct time. Place your dried weed flowers in airtight mason jars to create an optimally controlled environment.
You can also use metal, ceramic, or even wood vessels. However, refrain from using plastic bags as they aren't impervious to oxygen. Plus, you don't want your stash tasting like plastic.
Pack your buds loosely in the containers without crushing them and fill them to 75% capacity. It's vital to leave room for air. At this point, you can test whether your cannabis is dry enough for curing or not by giving the vessels a gentle shake.
If the cannabis buds rattle around the jar freely, you're good to go. But if they start clumping together, you'll have to dry them further before proceeding.
If no further drying is required, seal the containers and store them in a cool, dry, and dark place. Ideally, put them in a storage room that maintains a relative humidity of about 65%.
Burp Your Buds
During the first few days of curing, you'll have to check on your buds once or twice per day. While inspecting them, keep a careful eye on mold formation. Open the jars for a couple of minutes (burping) whenever you check to give room for fresh air exchange.
Remember to keep a close eye on your hygrometer as well. If things start getting too wet, leave the containers open for about three hours to allow excess moisture escape. If the buds are too dry, place a small humidity pack like the Boveda pack inside the affected jars to rehydrate buds.
How Long Does Curing Cannabis Take?
Continue opening and closing the jars once per day for the next two weeks as you take the necessary precautions to maintain optimal humidity. After the third week, your buds will be well cured to give you an aromatic and flavorful smoking experience.
Some growers prefer curing buds for about eight weeks for the best results. Some cannabis strains keep on increasing in quality for even more than six months of curing.
Storing Dried and Cured Cannabis
Once you're done drying and curing cannabis, it's time to either sell or store them. You can store your properly dried and cured cannabis for up to two years. Just like a whiskey barrel or fine wine, it's best to keep your dried and cured buds in a cool, dark place in airtight containers.
Also, ensure you label your strains when storing different ones. You can easily forget where you stored a specific strain or when you sealed up a batch of cured marijuana. So, save yourself from mix-ups and uncertainties by labeling your strains with their name and packaging date.
Of course, producing top-quality weed all comes down to expertise. You have to harvest, dry, cure, and store cannabis a couple of times before understanding all the ins and outs. By the time you carry out the entire process more than thrice, you'll develop a connection with your cannabis plants and know the perfect time to harvest, dry, and cure them for maximum potency and taste.