Drying and Curing Marijuana: The Right Way to do it

avatar WeedWeek / Jul 2, 2020

You might believe that drying weed is the last step in the harvesting process. However, all growers should also learn about curing marijuana. And they should do it with every crop.

Although marijuana is often referred to as “dried cannabis”, instead of “dried and cured cannabis”, the curing process is just as important in achieving desirable terpene and cannabinoid profiles. With a little patience and the right conditions, you can allow for certain chemical reactions to take place within the plant. And trust us – these are reactions you want to encourage, not inhibit. 

Read on for a guide on how to properly dry and cure marijuana. 

What’s The Difference Between Drying And Curing marijuana?

Although they may seem similar  – especially because, in both cases, weed is left alone in the dark for prolonged periods of time – the differences between drying and curing cannabis are actually quite stark. 

The drying process is designed to decrease the moisture content of freshly-trimmed bud. Pretty much as soon as you’ve trimmed, the battle is on to prevent moisture from damaging your crop. Moisture is the enemy when it comes to both drying and curing weed, since it can lead to the growth of mold and the proliferation of unwanted bacteria that can spoil everything. These pesky blights can hit at any time  – so it’s important to keep an eye on your cannabis throughout drying and curing.

A proper curing process can only be achieved once the cannabis is properly dried. Curing weed involves keeping dried weed in sealed containers for a period of weeks to months, while maintaining a constantly cool, dark environment. This temperature-controlled environment allows for biosynthesis of cannabinoids, retention of terpene profiles, as well as the removal of impurities such as sugars and minerals that affect the quality of smoke. If done correctly, curing will leave you with the best possible product. 

Why Do I Need To Dry My Marijuana before curing?

Drying cannabis might seem like a no-brainer, given that it is in this dried form that most of us are familiar with marijuana. Yet eating undried cannabis is not only possible, it turns out there may be many certain health benefits to consuming weed as a leafy green, since the plant is chock-full of vitamins such as C, K, and calcium. The problem (for some at least) is that eating raw cannabis won’t get you high.

Getting high is one of many reasons for drying your hard-won and doted-over cannabis crop. Fresh leaves and flowers just don’t produce the same level of psychoactive effects as dried marijuana. There are two reasons for this. First, drying cannabis creates a product that can later be decarboxylated, which means heated slowly at a low temperature.

Decarbing weed is what helps convert cannabinoids into their active state, including cannabinoids THCA and CBDA, which become THC and CBD respectively. 

The other benefit to drying is that it allows the plant to engage in biosynthesis of cannabinoids, which is another way cannabinoids are converted into their active form. We’ll explain why this is pretty important below. 

Finally, curing can’t happen without a property-conducted drying process, since proper curing requires that the moisture content of buds be reduced. And curing is definitely something you’ll want to do. 

How To Dry Your Cannabis:

Ultimately the goal of drying cannabis is to reduce the water content of buds to around 10 or 15 percent. Here’s how you can achieve the best results: 

  1. Trim your cannabis. You can either take whole branches of the plant and hang them upside down, or cut buds down to sizes as you would see them in a dispensary and spread them over a rack. You can use string and clothespins, or even hangars and twine in a closet. Get creative!
  2. Keep your trimmed plant matter in a dark room with the temperature around 70 degrees fahrenheit, with 50% humidity. Ensure there is a little bit of air circulation as well, to aid the drying process. 
  3. Each crop will require differing drying times, depending on factors like climate, as well as the density of the buds. Generally, the drying process will take about a week, but can take upwards of two weeks. When the buds feel dry and slightly crunchy to the touch, you’ll know you’re ready to move onto the next step

How To Know When Your Marijuana Is Dry and Ready for Curing

There are a couple ways to determine whether marijuana is dry enough to begin curing. The first involves applying gentle pressure onto a flower. If it still feels damp or slightly sticky, you should wait a little longer. Property dried weed should feel slightly crispy. 

Another surefire test of dryness is to try bending a stem. If it bends, give it more time. If it snaps off in a clean break, it’s on to the curing process! 

Why Cure Marijuana?

The number one reason to cure cannabis is that doing so increases the presence of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Yes, you read that right – curing increases potency. Why you won’t want to miss this step? 

Much like decarbing, curing converts cannabinoids such as CBDA and THCA into their active forms, CBD and THC. The more time cannabis has to cure, the more of these conversions can take place, and the greater effects will be felt.

Connoisseurs consider curing absolutely vital for several reasons:

Curing Affects Flavor And Quality Of Smoke

In case you need another reason besides increasing the potency of your weed, curing will also preserve the terpene content of cannabis. It might be tempting to do a faster dry by exposing plants to the sun, however terpenes break down and degrade in higher temperatures. This will negatively affect the terpene profile, resulting in a far less flavorful experience. By curing in a dark, cool space over a long period of time, the terpenes are preserved much more intact, producing pleasant scents and tastes which add to the overall experience of consuming marijuana. 

Some say that curing also improves the quality of smoke, rendering it smoother and pleasant to the tongue and throat. The optimal conditions in the curing environment allows for undesirable compounds such as sugars and minerals to be digested by bacteria within the plant. Weed that hasn’t been cured can have a harsher, more acidic feel when these components are still lingering in the plant matter. 

Curing Preserves Your Cannabis

The curing process itself can extend for months at a time, which is a form of long-term preservation in itself. When your buds have been properly cured, they can be stored for even longer. As long as storage containers are kept away from light (which degrades THC) and moisture (which can promote mold), cured cannabis can hang out for a very long time. 

How To Cure Your Cannabis Buds:

  1. Place the buds into containers that have a good seal. Selecting something with a wide mouth is also advisable, for ease of placing buds inside and removing them once cured. Pack buds somewhat loosely – ensure they aren’t pressed too tightly together, which can inhibit the process. Try to fill jars only ¾ of the way full, to allow for sufficient air flow. This reduces the opportunity for mould or bacteria to take hold. 
  2. Place the jars in a temperature-controlled environment. Ideally, aim for humidity levels of around 60% and a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As with drying, keep the buds in a dark environment, and ensure they are not exposed to any direct sunlight – since this can affect the temperature and humidity level, potentially to disastrous effect. 
  3. Especially during the first week of the curing, open the jars a few times every day, and leave them open for a few minutes at a time. The goal is to let the oxygen replenish within the jars, as well as helping any moisture present to evaporate. This is known as “burping.”
  4. After around a couple of weeks in the jars, your bud should be ready to consume. However, keep in mind that patience is a virtue. The longer you leave it, the better it will be, in terms of flavor and aroma. One month is great, two months could be even better. After the first two weeks, jars only need to be burped once a day, or even once every few days. 

How Do I Best Store My Buds Once They Are Dried And Cured?

Dried and cured marijuana can be safely stored in the same sealable jars used for curing. Keeping the jars in a cool, dark, and dry place is important to prevent mould or bacteria growth. And, as previously mentioned, cured weed doesn’t need to be opened and inspected nearly as frequently – so they should be fairly low-maintenance overall. 

Conclusion

Learning how to properly cure and dry your cannabis is a way to really let your product shine, and augment all the hard work you put into growing your crop in the first place. Increasing cannabinoid potency, enhancing flavor profiles and getting a luxuriously smooth smoke are just a few benefits you can expect to reap. Although they take additional time, drying and curing are definitely not steps to be overlooked.

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