Stepping into the world of cannabis cultivation isn’t just about sowing and reaping — it’s about the subtle artistry that occurs post-harvest. One of these art forms is the curing of cannabis, an age-old process which, when executed correctly, brings out the plant’s maximum potential.
The process of curing cannabis is a strategic and careful orchestration that ensures the preservation and enhancement of cannabinoids and terpenes — the compounds that contribute to the potency, aroma, flavor, and overall therapeutic value of the final product.
This article will guide you through this intricate journey from harvest to curing, discussing the importance, methods, and tools required for the process.
What Is Curing?
Curing is the process that begins immediately after the cannabis harvest. It involves carefully managing the drying of cannabis buds to ensure optimal quality in the final product. This process can be seen as a fine balancing act.
While the goal is to remove moisture content from the cannabis buds, preserving the beneficial compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes is vital. To this end, curing calls for careful regulation of humidity, temperature, and airflow.
Why Is Curing Important?
Curing plays a crucial role in preserving and enhancing the compounds that give cannabis its unique properties — cannabinoids and terpenes. These compounds, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), and CBN (cannabinol), contribute to the potency, therapeutic benefits, and unique sensory experience of each cannabis strain.
Terpenes, meanwhile, are the aromatic compounds found in cannabis that lend each strain its distinct aroma and flavor while also providing soothing antioxidant properties.
Simultaneously, the curing process allows for the degradation of chlorophyll — the compound that gives plants their green color and is known to lend a harsh taste to dried cannabis. During curing, chlorophyll breaks down in a controlled manner, which in turn, enhances the smoothness and flavor of the final product.
Proper curing also helps prevent the degradation of cannabinoids and terpenes due to factors like heat, light, and excess humidity. This is especially important as cannabinoids and terpenes can degrade into less desirable compounds if not properly cured, ultimately affecting the quality and experience of the cannabis.
With a well-cured cannabis flower, growers can experience the full-bodied flavor and potent effects that embody the true essence of the plant.
Trimming Your Plants: Wet Trimming vs. Dry Trimming
The journey from harvest to curing begins with trimming, a critical process where the excess plant matter — primarily leaves — is removed from the cannabis buds. Trimming can occur either immediately after the harvest (wet trimming) or after the initial drying phase (dry trimming).
Each method has its advantages. Wet trimming is often easier due to the leaves’ rigidity, making them simpler to remove. On the other hand, dry trimming can better preserve the buds’ trichomes — tiny, crystal-like structures on the bud that house the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes.
How To Properly Dry Cannabis Plants
Knowing how to dry your cannabis plants sets you up for successful curing.
Setting Up Your Drying Space
The initial leap towards effective curing is drying your cannabis, a process aimed at lowering the moisture content in the buds while preserving the valuable compounds. The dynamics of airflow, humidity, and room temperature of your drying space are paramount in this phase.
Employing drying racks can enhance the even circulation of air around the buds, which is essential in thwarting the growth of mold and mildew. Humidity also plays a significant role: too much of it can induce mold, while insufficient levels might cause rapid drying, which inadvertently locks in chlorophyll.
Room temperature regulation is another key aspect. An overly warm environment may quicken the drying process, causing a potential loss in terpenes, whereas excessively cool conditions may slow the process, raising the risk of mold growth. The goal is to strike a balance that optimizes the drying rate of your cannabis buds.
Hanging Cannabis Plants Upside Down
Once prepared, cannabis plants are typically hung upside down to dry. This tradition dates back to times before we had a scientific understanding of the process. Still, it’s believed that gravity aids in pulling the remaining nutrients and cannabinoids from the plant stalk into the buds, enhancing their quality.
Removing the Fan Leaves
The fan leaves and sugar leaves have roles in this process. Fan leaves, the larger, more prominent leaves, are typically removed during trimming as they contain fewer trichomes.
The smaller sugar leaves, sprinkled with trichomes, are often left on the bud during the drying process. They act as a natural barrier, protecting trichomes on the buds and slowing the drying process for a more controlled degradation of chlorophyll.
Understanding the Role of Starches and Sugars
During the drying process, the cannabis plant’s stored starches and sugars begin to break down. This process is vital, as these elements can contribute to a harsh smoke when not adequately degraded. Hence, a slower drying process helps facilitate the gradual breakdown of these compounds, leading to a smoother final product.
Determining Drying Time
Cannabis drying time is not set in stone but varies based on several elements, including the bud’s density and environmental conditions. As a rule of thumb, growers should anticipate a drying phase of roughly two to four weeks.
Indicators that the buds are ready to graduate to the next curing phase include small stems that snap rather than bend and the exterior of the buds feeling dry to the touch. This is a fine line to tread, as over-drying the buds could result in diminished weight, flavor, and potency.
How To Transition From Drying to Curing
Determining when your cannabis buds are ready to transition from drying to curing hinges on a couple of key factors:
- Moisture Content: While the outer layer of the bud should feel dry to the touch, the inner portion should retain some moisture. This internal moisture will evenly redistribute throughout the bud during the curing process, vital for optimal flavor and smoothness of the smoke.
- Trichome Appearance: Under a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe, the tiny, resinous glands coating the surface of the buds known as trichomes should appear cloudy, a sign that the cannabinoids have reached their peak potency.
Once you’ve determined your buds are ready, there are just a few more factors to consider before curing.
The Role of Fresh Air in the Transition Phase
In this transition phase, fresh air plays a critical role. A controlled amount of oxygen aids in the degradation of leftover chlorophyll and undesirable organic compounds, making for a cleaner smoke. However, too much exposure to air can result in the degradation of precious terpenes and cannabinoids, so it’s a delicate balance to maintain.
Trimming Dried Buds for Curing
The final step before curing is to trim the dried buds further. Any remaining sugar leaves that weren’t removed during the initial trimming process should now be trimmed off.
This meticulous grooming is not merely cosmetic; it also helps to reduce any harsh flavors those leaves might impart during the smoking process.
What Tools Do I Need for Curing?
Once you have trimmed buds from your dried cannabis plants, you’re ready to begin the curing process. Here’s a list of essential tools and equipment you’ll need for the curing process:
- Airtight Glass Jars: Airtight containers like mason jars are a popular choice. The glass doesn’t react with the cannabinoids and terpenes, and the sealable lids ensure airtight conditions.
- Hygrometer: To measure and monitor the relative humidity inside your curing containers.
- Humidity Packs: Products like Boveda can help maintain optimal humidity levels inside your curing containers.
- Quality Scissors: For the final trim before curing.
- Gloves: To protect the buds from oils and any contaminants on your hands.
- Storage Space: A cool, dark, and dry room or cabinet for storing your curing containers.
- Magnifying Glass or Jeweler’s Loupe: To closely inspect the trichomes.
- Humidifier/Dehumidifier (optional): For larger-scale growers, these can help control the overall humidity in the storage area.
- Brown Paper Bags (optional): In case buds are over-dried, they can be placed in paper bags with fresh cannabis leaves to gently reintroduce some moisture.
Remember, this is your journey to discovering the magic and wonder of nature. While these tools can guide your way, the most important instrument at your disposal is patience. Proper curing is a labor of love that pays dividends in the quality of your final product.
How To Cure Cannabis: Step-by-Step Guide
Ready to cure your cannabis like a pro? Here is a step-by-step breakdown of the process.
1. Proper Storage for Curing
Initiating the curing process demands proper storage. After you’ve delicately trimmed the buds, place them in sealed containers. Fill the jars about ¾ full to leave room for air, which is essential for the curing process.
2. Maintaining Optimal Humidity with Humidity Packs
A controlled environment is key for happy buds. If the humidity is too high (above 70%), leave the jars open for 2-3 hours to let some moisture out. Conversely, if it’s too low (below 55%), it could mean your cannabis is too dry, potentially hindering the curing process.
To maintain an optimal humidity level of around 62%, consider using humidity packs such as Boveda. They effortlessly help maintain relative humidity within the jar by either absorbing or releasing moisture, ensuring a favorable curing environment.
3. “Burping” the Containers
During the first week of curing, “burping” the containers is vital. This process involves opening the jars once or twice daily for a few minutes to allow fresh air in and release any built-up gases. This exchange aids in the slow and steady decomposition of remaining sugars and starches, which could otherwise lead to an unpleasant taste or even mold development.
5. Identifying and Addressing Problems
Stay vigilant for signs of excess moisture or mildew. If you notice a musty or ammonia-like smell, it could indicate the presence of mold. Remove any affected buds immediately to prevent them from spreading.
6. Checking Individual Buds for Uniform Curing
Every few days, check your buds by lightly shaking the jar. They should shift freely. If they stick together, it might mean they’re not dry enough to cure, requiring more drying time.
7. Long-Term Storage
After about two weeks, you’ll need to burp the jars less frequently — about once a week will suffice. After curing for a month or two, your cannabis should be ready for long-term storage. Keep the jars in a cool, dark place to maintain the quality of the cured buds.
How Long Does the Curing Process Take?
While the initial curing process spans a couple of weeks, truly premium cannabis often cures for up to two months.
The length of time you choose to cure your buds may vary based on your personal preference, the specific cannabis strain, and environmental conditions, but generally, longer curing periods tend to result in smoother, more aromatic cannabis.
How To Evaluate the Quality of Your Cured Cannabis
The journey from fresh cannabis plants to cured buds is an art, an alchemical transformation where nature meets nurture. It’s an art that paints vividly in three primary colors: look, smell, and taste.
- Look: Properly cured buds should have a vibrant, rich color. Trichomes — those tiny, crystal-like structures that house much of the plant’s THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids — should be visible and well-preserved.
- Smell: The unique aroma of your cannabis is due largely to its terpene profile. Terpenes are preserved and even enhanced during curing, which should result in a robust and complex scent.
- Taste: Proper curing process prevents the formation of anaerobic bacteria that can ruin the taste and safety of your cannabis. The final product should deliver a smooth, pleasant flavor, free from the harshness of residual sugars and chlorophyll.
Proper curing not only refines these sensory experiences, it also enhances the shelf life of your cannabis flower, safeguarding its potency. This process carefully orchestrates the decomposition of remaining sugars and chlorophyll, effectively preventing the growth of mold and bacteria.
The result? A final product rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, THC, CBD, and CBN.
From Curing Room to Dispensary
The importance of the curing process stretches far beyond personal use. For growers targeting dispensaries, the way your cannabis is cured can greatly enhance its value and desirability in the market. Dispensaries appreciate the qualities of well-cured cannabis: the taste, aroma, and appearance all contribute to a top-shelf product.
The curing process also speaks volumes about your commitment as a grower. It is a testament to your dedication to quality, sustainability, and natural health — values that resonate with consumers and can distinguish your products in the market.
The Bottom Line
From your home garden to commercial grow rooms, the curing process is key. With time, patience, and keen attention to detail, growers can enhance not only the sensory qualities of their cannabis but also its potency.
And while every grower’s journey is different, the destination — high-quality, potent cannabis — remains the same. That’s where we come in.
Whether you’re a seasoned grower or a first-timer simply looking to expand your garden, our high-quality seeds, seedlings, and clones can give you the head start you need. We’re not just in the business of hemp; we’re in the business of sustainable abundance, holistic health, and a balanced lifestyle. Your journey starts here, with us.