Everyone is cooking with cannabis these days. As more people access legal cannabis, more are getting creative in the kitchen. But, cooking with cannabis isn’t as simple as just throwing in a handful of buds.
To create elevated cannabis-infused dishes, you need to master the art of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cooking oil. This first step of infusing oil, butter, and other fatty base ingredients with cannabis removes the undesirable plant material and improves both consistency and potency, all while making it easier to incorporate cannabis into any sweet or savory dish.
Cooking with cannabis is one part creativity and another part science. To get the most out of your edibles, you’ll need to understand a few basic properties of cannabinoids and extraction.
Why Do I Need to Use Oil to Extract THC?
Did you know that THC is not water-soluble? This holds for other cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN). Yet, the human body is up to 60 percent water, making it difficult for our bodies to absorb these hydrophilic compounds.
THC is, however, extremely fat-soluble. That means the cannabinoid binds easily to fat molecules. That’s why pro-cannabis cooks rely on oils and other fatty ingredients for infusion with THC and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. This phenomenon is also why THC cooking oil is such a standard product in the cannabis industry.
What Oil Should I Use?
The world is your oyster when it comes to possible fatty-THC infusions. But, as is the case with non-infused foods, there is a time and place for every oil—for example, butter in sweet desserts and coconut oils for vegan-friendly dishes.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils in the culinary world, so it’s no surprise that many love to make their THC cooking oils out of olive oil. Olive oil’s advantages include its great taste and perhaps being the most versatile choice: You can cook everything from pasta to eggs with it and even put it directly on salads as a finishing touch.
- Butter: Cannabis-infused butter has a long history of use. It is used extensively for baked goods, including cannabis-infused brownies, cookies, and so on. The downside of using butter to make THC cooking oil is that it has a shorter shelf life than shelf-stable oils. It will need to be refrigerated. A butter alternative is ghee (clarified butter) because the milk solids have been removed. It has a long shelf life, even at room temperature.
- Coconut Oil: In many ways, coconut oil offers the best of both worlds. Like olive oil, you can use it for pan cooking Or as a substitute for butter in baking recipes. Coconut oil also has a long shelf life, even if kept unrefrigerated. Rich and coconutty, it has a pleasant taste that many find adds lots of flavor. Plus, for vegans, it’s a perfect butter alternative.
How to Extract THC Cooking Oils
THC extraction into a cooking oil of your choice is relatively straightforward. Let’s break it down into three steps:
- Decarbing: Also known as decarboxylation, this process transforms the raw plant material’s inactivated compounds into the cannabinoids we know and love — THC and CBD. Crumble the flower into an oven-proof baking dish and cover with tinfoil. A rough grind is perfect. Bake at 230°F (110°C) for 50 minutes you can also decarb cannabis oil to 250°F (121°C) for 30 minutes. Allow cooling before handling.
- Set up a Water Bath: Cooking with oil at high temperatures at home does come with some risks. Even professionals use Temperature Recirculating Baths to maintain safe, consistent temperatures during production. It’s why we recommend a water bath for making THC-infused cooking oil.
- Infuse Flower into Oil: Place a mason jar into a large pot on your cooktop, filling halfway with water. Pour decarbed flower into the mason jar, and fill 2/3rds of the way with cooking oil of choice. Screw the mason jar lid on to hand tightness. Turn on the burner to low-medium heat. Bring water to a simmer. Using an instant-read thermometer, maintain a temperature of 185°F (85°C). Simmer for up to three hours, topping off the water and burping the jar every 30 minutes or so. Allow cooling.
- Filter and cool: Once the mixture is cool enough to handle (but still liquid), use a cheesecloth to filter out the now-spent biomass. Keep the oil or butter in an airtight container. We also recommend storing it in the refrigerator to preserve shelf life.
Hit the Big Time, Get Professional
You aren’t the only at-home chef spending their evenings perfecting that perfect edible recipe. With legalization coming online across the country and really around the world, everyone is getting creative with cannabis — and some are making it into a business.
Ready to get started? Great. See how Precision Extracts can help with your THC extraction for cooking oil today.