After months of nurturing your crops with careful observation, patience, and tender love and care, your cannabis kids are ready for harvest. Teeming with boisterous excitement to enjoy it’s sweet, smoky bliss, you are most likely itching to get your product dried and smoke-ready.
However, I am here to tell you to settle down there chancho! Your obligation to your luscious greenery is not over yet.
The next task is ensuring your cannabis delightful aroma, preservability, potency, and exquisite flavor. The best way to achieve this pinnacle of probability is to put your weed through a little process called curing.
Curing allows your marijuana to reach it’s fullest potential in all spectrums across the board. It makes your cannabis smell better, taste better, and even smoke better. It does this through giving bacteria more time to break down the residual chlorophyll in the remaining plant matter, redistributing excess moisture, and preventing mold and mildew generation in your harvest.
Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in nearly all flora, and is an essential component for photosynthesis — the process through which plants make their own food. However, in the realm of marijuana, the presence of chlorophyll is less than desirable because it contains magnesium. This makes the smoke harsh and unpleasant on the airways and the lungs, and can really put a damper on your overall smoking experience. Hence, in removing the excess chlorophyll from your crop, your are assuring both you and your customers some smooth smokin’.
Drying is essential in harvesting your marijuana because it increases the potency of your product and makes it easier to burn. However, if you over-dry your weed then it will begin to lose it’s taste, aroma, and potency, and you will have a crispy bag of dried oregano on your hands.
With curing, you have the ability to control the levels of moisture in your buds as you polish up your fine product. While drying removes a majority of the water from the buds themselves, there is still a good possibility that there is water retained deep within them. So, when you decide to cure your buds and engage in the process properly, you actually allow for that excess moisture to redistribute throughout the buds and give them the body, flavor, fragrance, and potency that you are looking for.
This is probably the most colossal of the benefits when it comes to curing your marijuana. When you cure your crop, you are ensuring that your cannabis will have a long and fruitful shelf life. The longer you cure your buds, the longer your buds will retain their most desirable qualities. However, it is said that the curing time basically taps-out at 6 months and that after that there don’t seem to be any drastic increases in quality.
Of course, after curing, there are more steps to be taken in order to get the most out of your herb’s preservability. It is important that if you are wanting to store your cannabis for long periods of time, to do so in airtight or vacuum sealed containers. If stored properly, your marijuana can last for 2 years with little change in potency, flavor, or aroma. The potency may decrease a little bit and the color may change to more of a tan or gold hue, but the differences will be subtle.
Curing is best conducted after a slow, prolonged drying process. If you attempt to quick-dry your cannabis there is a good chance that you might compromise the chance of your marijuana reaching it’s highest potential.
So, how will you know when your weed is ready to be cured? Many growers use the rule of thumb, that when the smaller branches snap instead of bending or folding, then your harvest is ready to be plucked, trimmed, and cured. This is called the ‘snap test.’ If the smaller branches leave stringy pulp behind instead of a clean break, then there is still too much moisture inside the plants.
Another method of telling when your buds are ready to move from the drying rack to the jars is when they are dry to the touch, but not brittle. If they are dry on the outside, it means that they are unlikely to get moldy since most mold generally originates when buds are damp on the outside.
How to cure your buds
There are two primary methods for curing your buds: water curing and airtight curing.
Water curing takes a much different approach than that of airtight curing, and involves placing your buds in jars full of water. What this does, is instead of using natural processes to breakdown excess chlorophyll, nutrients, and unwanted sugars, it dissolves them in water.
Cannabinoid compounds are oil-based, and as such, don’t dissolve in water. Meaning that through water curing, you dissolve all the undesirable extras into the water and are left only with the terpenes and cannabinoids you want.
First, place your marijuana in water-tight jars, and fill them to the brim with reverse-osmosis water. If they seem inclined to float, do your best to weight them down. Second, change the water twice a day for the best results. Do this for about 5 days.
After the first 5 days, remove the cannabis from the water and dry the buds back to normal. This final drying process can take an additional 7 to 10 days to thoroughly dry your buds correctly.
While water curing is a fast and effective method to cure your cannabis and will provide you with a very smooth and smokable product, it will strip your marijuana of it’s aesthetic bag appeal. Meaning that it won’t look as lovely, taste as divine, or smell like the piney, skunky heaven you have always dreamed of.
This is the most popular and foolproof way of curing your cannabis, and is widely practiced by many different growers who are interested in maximizing the potential of their green goodness.
Airtight, 1 quart, wide-mouthed mason jars are your best bet for this method, and more often than not yield the best results. It is recommended that you invest in tinted jars to minimize the penetration of ultraviolet light, since UV rays deteriorate the buds and encourage the continuation of photosynthesis. The humidity conditions for this method of curing is 60% - 65%. This will ensure that your buds stay dry on the outside and remain moist on the inside.
First, place your dried, trimmed marijuana in mason jars. Be sure to only fill them up ⅔ of the way full so that when you shake it the cannabis moves around a little bit. The extra air will allow the good bacterias to continue to breakdown the extra unwanted compounds in the buds. If they are too compact and sticking to one another, then this means that your marijuana still has too much moisture and you should leave the lid off the jars until it dries out some more.
During the first week, check your marijuana every day to “burp” and rotate it. “Burping” is the process of allowing your crop to breathe, releasing broken down chemicals, and introducing more oxygen to continue breaking down all the extra stuff. After the first week, open the jars every day for 30 - 40 minutes at a time for up to 4 weeks. 4 to 8 weeks is the ideal time frame to cure your cannabis, however, you can cure your weed for up to 6 months without it reaching its ceiling of cannabinoid and terpenes content.
There are also some great products that will assist you in maintaining the perfect environment for your jar-imprisoned cannabis, such as BOOST by Integra. BOOST is a humidity control supplement that actively adapts and responds to its environments. It is available in two options, 55% and 62% humidity.
What you do is, you place BOOST in the jars with your cannabis to keep your greenery fresher for longer. What’s more, is that when BOOST gives out on you, it will actually give way to a replacement indicator that lets you know it is time for a new one. While I am unsure of how such additives may affect the curing process itself, this is a wonderful tool to have in post-curing in order to extend the shelf life and overall quality of your beloved flowers.
BOOST is available for purchase through many mediums online, however, why travel further when you can get it right here at Slyng! Not to mention, if you go through Slyng you get a 30% off coupon! Need I say more?
Well, there you have it. Curing, in a nutshell, is the cherry on top when it comes to your crop. So, whether you are home-grower with little experience, or a veteran with a lot of harvests under your belt, curing is a process that you will want to be familiar with. Curing turns your good product into a great product, and all it requires is your time, attention, and of course, a little extra investing for mason jars.