- Harvesting a crop is for most cultivators the greatest moment of their grow. It's the time a grower can reap the fruits of his labour. But this is not the last step.
- Fresh cannabis contains about 75% water, which needs to be evaporated first before the buds can become a fantastic smoke. To get rid of this excess water, the buds need to be slowly dried and cured.
A good drying and curing process is a critical step in the production of high quality cannabis. During this process you can lose, preserve, or enhance the odour, taste, and potency of your cannabis. A bad drying process can even ruin the best quality buds. It's a painfully time consuming process, but the patient grower will be rewarded with some buds that have a much better taste and a much better high.
Drying of fresh cannabis buds
During the drying process the water content of the buds needs to be reduced from 75% to 10-15%. Usually this will take around 10 to 14 days. The most popular method is cutting the branches with the buds, trimming the leaves and hanging them upside down in a room or cabinet. Try to keep the branches from touching each other to avoid uneven drying and mould. It's best to get rid of the biggest amount of moisture in the first 3 days. After these 3 days the drying process should be slowed down a bit.
When drying fresh cannabis buds the proper way the following circumstances are required:
- Temperature: In the first 3 days the best temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius. This way the buds will dry quick, but not too fast. After 3 days the temperature should be lowered to about 17-18 degrees Celsius to slow down the process.
- Humidity: In the first 3 days the relative humidity should be around 50%. After three days the relative humidity should rise to about 60%, again with the reason to slow down the drying process.
- Air circulation: It's very important there's enough air circulation in the room, so it's advisable to use an electric driven fan. A ventilation fan can also come in handy to control the temperature and humidity. Don't point the fan directly on the buds though, this will dry the cannabis buds unevenly.
- Darkness: The room should be relatively dark as light, especially direct sunlight, degrades THC.
The buds are dried when you can easily snap the stem. If it bends, it needs some more time. You will know when it happens…
It's very important not to dry the buds too fast. During drying not only moisture, but also chlorophyll and other pigments within plant tissue will evaporate and leave the buds. If the buds are dried too quickly, some of these pigments don't have enough time to leave the buds and will end up in the final product. Cannabis with a high amount of chlorophyll often has a bitter, 'green' taste and smell, by many compared to stinky hay. So enough reason not to speed up things too fast.
Last important note about drying cannabis. When fresh cannabis buds are drying they give off an extremely strong smell, especially in the first few days. So if you need to be discreet, take care of enough odour control.
The curing of dried cannabis
When the buds are properly dried, it's time to cure and store the finished product in an airtight glass jar. Even after a proper drying period of 10-14 days a little chlorophyll and other pigments will be left and will continue to break down.
The whole curing period takes from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on how the grower wants his buds. And on how much patience he has. There are cannabis connoisseurs out there who only smoke cannabis which is cured for at least 1 year.
The cannabis needs to be put loosely in a jar and the jar needs to be filled for a maximum of 2/3, since the buds need some air to breath. The jar needs to be placed in a cool and dark place. It is very important in the first 2 weeks to check the buds at least once a day to replace the air and check for growth of mould and mildew. After 2 weeks the jar needs to be opened and checked only 1-2 times a week.
Curing good quality cannabis buds is like ageing an exquisite wine. It needs time to develop that intensity of flavour. It needs time to reach that rich and smooth lingering taste. It needs time to achieve that complex and refined philosophical high.
Surprise yourself and your friends; take your time with drying and curing your cannabis. It will be worth it…