The best ways to dry and cure cannabis.
One of the most underrated aspects of cannabis cultivation is the importance of drying and curing your cannabis well. Many passionate cannabis home growers work hard to identify the best cannabis seeds, the best LED grow lights and nutrition regime only to let themselves down with a substandard dry and cure. This can make the whole experience of vaping/smoking a great disappointment. Read on to find out more about the best ways to improve your cannabis drying and curing techniques.
Drying and curing has a massive affect on the vape/smoke quality
If you have ever opened a jar of well cured and dried buds you will instantly be greeted by a rich, pleasing aroma. Those all-important terpenes which help modulate the cannabis high should be retained in the buds. The buds themselves will often feel sticky as you squeeze them. They will retain a certain squashiness and release their intoxicating aroma as you squeeze them. Well cured buds have lost enough water to allow them to stay potent in the jar for a year or two without the threat of mold. The buds will have retained a high terpene level allowing you to enjoy a deep satisfying vape. A well managed drying and curing is the icing on the cake after a successful cannabis grow. Try to do it too fast and you risk losing aroma and taste. But if you follow some simple guidelines and optimise them you will be able to master the art of perfectly dried and cured cannabis. Correctly dried and cured cannabis can last many years with minimal loss of potency,
Timing your cannabis harvest
Most cannabis connoisseurs will already have an idea of whether they prefer their cannabis harvested slightly early, slightly late or somewhere in the middle. This is easy to do, simply label samples of your harvest, dry/cure them identically and find out which you prefer. Now you can start the drying/curing process with some knowledge about the best moment to harvest your plant
Starting to harvest your cannabis plant
Many people start by removing branches from the main plant. Often people find it easiest to remove (or ‘trim’) the leaves off at this stage before they get dry and crispy later. If you have grown from good quality feminized cannabis seeds or autoflower seeds you should find plenty of resin on the leaves and trim material. Many growers save the trim and use it to make hash or cannabis concentrates later. Some larger growers have invested in automatic trimming machines. These are a great convenience, though they are often several thousand Dollars/Euro’s. They are used as a labor-saving device by large legal growers.
The trimmed branches are often hung from a wire or a coat hanger in a gentle, light breeze e.g. from a small desk fan. Ensure that the branches don’t touch each other. This allows the buds to dry out an at even rate, which allows you precise control over the drying time. Many growers like to keep the drying process in complete darkness to prevent degradation of the THC. A convenient place to dry your cannabis plants is in the grow tent with air extraction and a carbon filter. A temperature of around 20ºC (around 70ºF) is good. A general philosophy is that slow and steady drying will lose less terpenes than drying done quickly at higher temperatures.
Drying your cannabis will cause a powerful aroma which can be smelt from some distance away, so be sure to take proper precautions and always have a carbon filter to clean the waste air. To allow the slow control which comes from an un-rushed drying process many people use air conditioning to maintain temperatures around 20ºC (70ºF). Humidity should be kept from getting too high, around 50% allows a steady drying process.
One drying tip is to start at 60% for the first few days, slowly working your way down to 55% again for a few days. After a week (max 10 days) set your dehumidifier to 50% to dry the buds a little further. As soon as the branches start to snap (or almost snap) this is a sign that the buds on those branches are just about ready to put into the jars. Check for similar sized branches, remove buds and place in the jar. Note that the biggest flowers often take a day or two longer to dry. Some cannabis growers use drying racks to dry their buds. They remove all the buds from the branches and spread them out to dry on shelves made from netting.
Optimised cannabis drying
How quickly the cannabis dries depends on local ambient humidity and temperatures. Cannabis connoisseurs never rush the drying and curing. A mindful, slow and measured approach delivers the best results. Only an inexperienced grower would dry their cannabis on a radiator or in a microwave and hope for high quality results.
Usually the drying process takes around a week, sometimes longer. In order to slow the drying process down a little, some people removes the buds from the branches and put them into brown paper envelopes for a few days. They use brown paper because it is unbleached yet permeable enough to allow moisture to slowly escape. When the smaller branches are dry enough to snap, many growers decide the residual humidity is low enough to start curing the buds. At this stage the outside of the buds will feel a little bit ‘crunchy’.
Curing removes the last traces of moisture. This is important if the buds are to last several months, or even a year or two, without going moldy. During curing the buds develop the full aroma and taste which adds so much pleasure to the eventual consumption. Proper drying and curing of cannabis is one of the most over-looked aspects of cannabis supply. Black market producers in particular pay very little attention to drying/curing. That’s one of the main reasons people prefer to grow their own cannabis, they can easily exceed the quality levels of local street weed.
How to cure cannabis easily
As the cannabis buds approach curing they have lost most, but not all, of their moisture. The final curing stage is the final, and arguably the most important part of cannabis supply. Often people use glass jars. Plastic is less preferred since it can be softened/dis-colored by the sticky resin on the buds. The well trimmed buds are placed in the glass jars leaving a centimetre or two at the top of the jar. The jars are sealed, and left in the dark. The jars are then unsealed once (or perhaps twice) a day to allow any moisture to be released. Some people refer to this as ‘burping’ the jars. Two or three weeks is considered a minimum cure time. Many connoisseurs feel that curing is complete after around a month or two. The cured buds will vape with a clean flavor and no ‘chlorophyll’ taste. Once your buds are fully cured you may prefer to store them in a freezer to fully preserve potency and ensure no degradation. Don’t store them in a high temperature environment (e.g. a warm loft space) if you want the best long term storage.
Controlling humidity when storing your buds
No-one wants to open their jars to find that the buds have mold because they were put in the jar before being sufficiently dry. Likewise, you don’t want to open your jar of prized buds to find that they are too dry and crispy, with poor taste and aroma. Buds that are too dry can feel like they are several years old and can have a harsh effect when vaped/smoked. When you open your jars you want to have premium quality buds, with optimized potency, a well cured aroma and a fresh taste. One way to achieve this is with humidity control sachets from companies like Boveda or Integra. These sachets release moisture if your buds are too dry, or they absorb moisture if the buds are damp. You can select different products from these companies. From Boveda we recommend the ’58% Humidity’ sachets. From Integra we recommend the ’55% humidity’ packs.
From growing the best cannabis seeds to curing the buds
One of the benefits of growing your own cannabis from feminized seeds/autoflowering cannabis seeds is that you can fully control and optimise each step. From buying the best cannabis seeds online, to cultivating them with the best LED grow lights. Best of all, you can dry and cure your own buds giving them that uniquely rich taste and aroma that is simply impossible to get on badly cured street weed.