Many gardeners who are new to growing cannabis have no idea about drying marijuana to enhance the flavor. After waiting eight weeks or longer for their plants to flower, a grower wants nothing more than to taste the fruits of his or her labor. Hold up, the product still needs to be cured!
Proper curing techniques for cannabis are just as important, if not more, than the actual growing process. A proper cure will bring out the sweet, smooth flavors that most connoisseurs crave. Throughout many trials and tribulations, growers have found simple techniques to ensure a quality product.
There are many opinions on the proper way to trim a marijuana plant. I prefer to do it in two stages. The first stage is to remove the large fan leaves. This process can be done by hand or with a trimming scissors. The second stage is a secondary trim of the leaves that grow right around the buds.
A grower can use trimming scissors or a trim machine for this process. I recommend trimming the leaves around the buds when the plants are still wet because the leaves are easier to remove when they are not stuck to the buds.
One common myth is, if left on, these leaves will help protect the trichomes on the buds during drying. In my experience, it seems as though more trichomes are damaged when trying to remove these leaves after they have dried and are stuck to the buds. Growers should definitely save all the trimmings from the second stage. These trimmings contain many trichomes and make excellent concentrates.
After trimming the excess leaf matter from around the buds, the plants should be hung up to dry. I’ve heard the myth that a plant needs to be hung upside down so the THC will run down to the buds. This is completely untrue. The THC and other cannabinoids are produced by the plant when it is still alive. Most cannabinoid levels do not change during the drying process.
The drying process works best in an environment with total darkness and decent, but not too aggressive, air circulation (a small fan on the ground level of the room works just fine). The ideal environment for a drying room is a temperature of 70-80°F and a humidity level of around 40%.
Make sure to leave enough room between the drying plants to ensure good airflow. Without proper airflow, mold and/or mildew may occur.
Cannabis that is dried too quickly will be harsh and lack flavor (and smell like hay). Do not use a dehydrator or a microwave to dry your buds. Even in times of desperation this only provides a disgusting representation of your plant’s potential.
The reason for this is that plants store their sugars in the form of starches because this is a stable, insoluble form of the sugars. As the plant grows and needs simple sugars, it breaks down the starch. Something similar happens when drying medical marijuana. When the plant dries, the starches within the plant are converted into simple sugars. These simple sugars give the medicine a smooth, sweet flavor and pungent odor. This process takes time. A proper drying time is 7-14 days. If the process is rushed, less sugars are produced and a grower is left with more starch.
For the smoothest of flavors, some growers like to lengthen the curing process by finishing the drying process in glass jars. After hanging for 7-10 days, the buds can be removed from the stems and packed lightly into glass jars. The jars should be opened everyday for at least 15 minutes to allow the buds to breath. After a month, this will produce the most flavorful and sweetest buds possible.