Drying and Curing Cannabis: The Art of Effect and Flavor

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This article appears in Volume 4 – Issue 6 of SKUNK Magazine.

A CANNABIS GROWER is always taking a chance. A crop means months of hard work, from the selection of the genetics down to vegetative growth, flowering, the ripening of the buds and the harvest process. After all the effort, commitment and waiting, the final stage has come. And now?

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Trippy trichomes up close and personal

After months of risk, commitment and hard work, the crop has been harvested. It’s too late now to correct any mistakes done during flowering, but it’s never too late to improve the flavour and the high of your buds by implementing a controlled drying and curing process.

Drying is as important as growing and a bad drying process can ruin even the best buds. Curing is a painfully long but necessary step towards the highest possible quality of smoke. Most commercial growers do not cure their crop; they just dry it and sell it. But for the real connoisseur, curing is the essence of it all, the culminating moment towards the perfect result.

Drying marijuana means reducing the water content of the buds to 10-15%, depending on the desired crispiness of the final product. This can be achieved in many different ways, but the best method is to use a climate-controlled room. The room must be lit using special green fluorescent tubes (laboratory light of the special green spectrum that doesn’t affect plant material). The temperature and the humidity must be constantly controlled and adjusted, and the air exchange exactly calibrated to the desired volume.

In an ideal situation, you want to let most of the moisture evaporate from the bud in the first three days and then the process should slow down. In the first three days, a temperature of 68ºF (20ºC) and a relative humidity of 55% will ensure that the buds get to roughly 30-40% water content. From this moment on, the temperature should drop a few degrees down to 64.4ºF (18ºC) and the relative humidity should rise to 60% to slow down the drying process. This allows the chlorophyll and other substances to leave the buds through evaporation with the water. If the drying is too fast the chlorophyll will stay and the smoke will have a bitterer taste and a green aftertaste.

The volume of air exchanged in the room is also critical. Don’t exceed 10% of the total volume every hour or it will be too fast. Use a timer and an open/closed duct-fan to regulate air intake and extraction. In total, the drying process should take around 10 to 14 days for a perfect taste.

Curing can be very difficult and should be tried with small batches first. Once the technique has been mastered, bigger batches can be attempted.

Taste is not the only variable affected by the drying process. The longer the drying, the more THC will degrade into CBN and other cannabinoids. Therefore, even in the same strain, the effect will change slightly from high to stoned—from cerebral to physical. The difference between drying 10 days and 14 days is not very evident to the novice, but it’s a world of difference to the connoisseur.

After drying, commercial growers package the crop. They usually like to dry the buds to 15% water content; this results in a heavier product (more water equals more money). Connoisseurs, on the other hand, like their bud between 12% and 10% water content, because the flavour improves and the weed burns better. If the buds are to be smoked pure (without mixing in tobacco), lower water content is preferable (down to 8% for good burning). On the contrary, when weed has to be vaporized, it’s best to leave higher water content (12% to 15%) to prevent easy combustion of smaller particles at vaporization temperature.

So, after the drying is finished, the connoisseurs will still dedicate a month or two to curing. Curing weed corresponds to ageing a good wine. If the weed quality is average, it’s not worth the effort and waiting necessary for curing it. On the contrary, if the buds are high grade, it’s well worth waiting a little longer to get the best out of it.

Curing cannabis means packaging it in a wooden box or cardboard box and pressing it slightly, so some of the trichomes break and some of the resin oils and terpenes spread over the surface of the buds. Often growers like to cure their bud in airtight glass jars, but this requires the jar to be opened for a few hours every few days (depending on the environmental factors of the drying room). After packaging it in the chosen way, leave it in a cellar-like environment (18ºC/64.4ºF, 50% relative humidity and total darkness) for a period of 1 to 2 months. Keep checking regularly to prevent fungus and mold formation from damaging the product. If you smell mold or ammonia, immediately open the containers and allow the bud to dry in a warmer environment for a few hours before continuing the curing process.

Curing can be very difficult and should be tried with small batches first. Once the technique has been mastered, bigger batches can be attempted.

Curing cannabis will increase the intensity of the flavor, though will slowly but steadily lower THC in favor of other cannabinoids. The high of cured weed is always deeper and more introspective, almost becoming a meditation and inner-vision tool in some cases. The flavor gets much more complex and refined, gaining in depth as well as in variation of bouquet.

Cured buds always look slightly brownish and have a typical smell, one that real smokers love from the bottom of their soul. Like a very good old wine, there is something unique about a well-cured crop.


Peace, Love & THC,

Green House Seed Company


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