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Yet we do trim away the larger, non-sugary leaves that are attached to the main stem around the buds. They make the job much easier! We have several pairs, and use them extensively both for cannabis and in the garden — like for thinning seedlings.
They even come in a non-stick option. It is ergonomic, with dips for your arms. Keep that! Sprinkle it on top of your bowls, or use it to infuse homemade canna oil! Post coming on that soon. We compost our excess leaf debris, both in a passive compost pile and in our worm bin. Yep, the worms love it! Smart little buggers.
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After they are cut down, cannabis plants are traditionally hung upside down to dry. As the cannabis dries, the THC converts from a non-psychoactive state to one that is psychoactive. THC also slightly degrades with drying, and buds that are dried too quickly will experience a more significant decomposition of THC than those that are allowed to dry more slowly. An ideal time to dry cannabis is around days.
However, the time it takes to reach the ideal dryness explained below will vary depending on your climate and drying location. Also, the condition of your plant will play a role, such as how fat the buds are, how many fan leaves are still attached, and so on. It is best to dry cannabis in a temperate, relatively dark location. Light also degrades THC, so keep those drying plants out of direct sunlight! Good air flow is also very important.
Even then, keep the breeze on the light side. If your humidity is lower than that, keep the fan extra low or omit it altogether to avoid overdrying your buds. Serious growers, or those in particularly challenging climates, may use the assistance of humidifiers, dehumidifiers, heaters, or air conditioners to achieve that sweet spot.
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Excessive heat can also dry out cannabis more quickly. If possible, hang your cannabis to dry in a climate-controlled location — not in an outdoor shed, garage, or other spot that is prone to extreme temperature swings. We dry our cannabis in a spare room in our house along a clothes line, or in the spare shower. It is easiest to break the plant down into branches and spread them out a bit, as opposed to hanging the whole damn thing like a dying Christmas tree.
If you are able to dry your cannabis in an environment with the ideal conditions described above, it will likely be done in the suggested time frame of days. To assess if your cannabis is dry enough to move on to the curing process, test the humidity level of the buds themselves!
The hygrometer will be used during curing as well. For inside jars, we use these cigar hygrometers. Additionally, the buds will only get more dry with time. When you think the cannabis is fairly dry, clip off a few sample buds. I suggest taking a nug from a couple locations on the plant to get a nice average. Place the buds inside a sealed jar with the hygrometer inside as well.
Close up the jar and get a reading. On the other hand, if it is hovering right around the sweet spot, allow them to stay sealed in the jar for 24 hours to get a true reading. If after 24 hours, it is within the target range, proceed to curing. If you find the humidity has creeped up, allow the plants to continue to dry.
Check back again in a day or two. Therefore, I suggest trimming in small batches and adding it to sealed jars as you go.
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Do not overlook the importance of curing! Have you ever noticed that some cannabis smokes really smooth and tastes absolutely amazing, while others are more harsh and flavorless? Sure, a little bit of that has to do with the strain or growing conditions… but the main factor that makes weed wonderful or woeful is: if it was cured properly! Old weed can still taste good and smooth too! In addition to the final flavor and experience, curing also ensures the cannabis will store well long-term and retain quality.
Curing is essentially a continuation of the drying process, but in a more slow, controlled environment — such as in sealed mason jars — and occurs for up to two months. Ideally, you should allow the cannabis to cure fully before enjoying it. Sure, you can sample some early here and there of course, but super fresh bud is not going to be the same as the stuff that has been allowed to cure. Proper curing stops the degradation process before volatile compounds like terpenes and cannabinoids evaporate or transform into less favorable compounds.
Additionally, cannabinoid synthesis the process of creating those valuable chemicals continues to take place even after harvest! I also recently learned that during the curing process, bacteria works to break down the chlorophyll in the plant material. Chlorophyll is what makes the plants nice and green in color, but also contributes to a harsh smoking experience. We use these half gallon jars. Store the containers in a dark, temperate place.
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Now, over the following weeks, periodically burp the jars. Leave the lid off for 10 to 15 minutes, and then re-seal the jar. The purpose is to allow some air exchange — to introduce oxygen and release moisture or other off-gassing substances. How often should I burp the jars while curing, you ask?
Some growers burp their jars one to two times per day during the first week or two. It is especially important to burp frequently if your cannabis is on the higher end of that humidity range, and leave the lids open even longer — up to an hour. We aim for once per day, but sometimes miss a few days.
After the first couple of weeks, a burp just once per week is great — for the following month. After a full 6 to 8 weeks of curing, you can reduce the burping frequency to once per month. A shorter burp is fine. Keep a hygrometer inside at least one of your containers.
You can rotate it amongst jars if needed, or use a few of them. Try to position it in a way that is visible through the sides of the container. Spread them out somewhere with good airflow, such as on an herb drying rack , screen, or even on cardboard. When you open the jars to burp them, take a sniff! A slight ammonia aroma is a sign that the cannabis is too wet and is starting to spoil. A strong ammonia odor or visible mold are indications that the cannabis was much too wet, and is probably now ruined.
You can also keep them with your buds during long-term storage to regulate humidity, which may be particularly helpful in hot, arid climates. Once your cannabis has finished curing, you can shift to long term storage. We store our cannabis in the same half-gallon jars they were cured in.