HELP! I just don't like the taste of my homemade edibles! Why are the ones I buy at the dispensary so much better tasting and how can I improve the flavor of what I make at home?
The second the most common question I get (after how to properly dose edibles) is how to improve their flavor. While there are a few rare individuals who enjoy the acrid green flavor of cannabis in their food, most do not, so you're not alone.
In answer to your first question, store-bought edibles often taste better because they are usually made with a specially produced distillate -- a pure cannabis concentrate, created specifically for edibles manufacturers. When making distillate for vape cartridges, the maker will usually add terpenes and flavors, elements that were removed in the process of creating the distillate, back in. When creating distillate for cooking, the terpenes are usually left out, making for a more neutral flavor.
Home cooks, on the other hand, don't always have the luxury of specially created distillate. More often than not, they will cook with trimmings or flowers from the whole plant, or with solventless concentrates like dry ice kief or water hash. These have more flavors as the terpenes remain intact. However, that's a good thing as many of the plant's medicinal effects are carried in the terpenes, so in my mind, it's a worthwhile trade-off for a little less than ideal flavor.
That said, here are some things you can do to improve the flavor of marijuana edibles, even when cooking with whole plant cannabis.
- Make your infusions (cannabis butter or oil, etc) as strong as possible in order to use less of them in your recipes. For example, if you make your infusion using double the amount of cannabis suggested in the links in this point, you would only need to use half as much in your recipe to get the same dose. Make sense? Make up the difference in the recipe with unmedicated butter or oil.
- In spite of advice you'll hear from most other cannabis cooks, and in spite of it being a built -in function of a popular cannabis butter making gadget, do NOT finely grind your plant material. It serves no practical purpose. What you are trying to extract is ON the plant not IN it. Fine grinding deposits more plant material into your finished infusions, and that means more herbal green flavor. Yuck.
- Use a heavy hand with herbs, spices, and other flavoring ingredients. While the taste of cannabis might come through in something delicate like vanilla custard, you'll never notice it on a pizza with the works.
- Cannabis infusions like butter and oil lose some of their green flavor when they are cooked. So, for instance, if I were going to medicate a cupcake recipe, I would be better off adding the cannabis to the cake, which is baked, than to the buttercream frosting, which is not cooked at all.
- Depending on how I am going to use it, I will often add water when infusing cannabis butter or marijuana oil. This takes away some of the green color and herbal flavor (although it can still taste mighty weedy). This method works great when you plan to cook with these ingredients, as opposed to say whipping butter for a frosting.
- I love cooking with concentrates as you get far less herbal flavor. Dry ice kief is a favorite. It is easy to find or easy to make (see this page on my website for instructions on making dry ice kief) and can be stirred into most any recipe. See this article for tips on cooking with kief and hash. I have also been using cannabis oil concentrates, especially since getting a Source by Extractcraft as I can now make my own.
- While cookies, brownies, and candies are popular marijuana edibles, from a flavor perspective, savory foods often naturally meld better with the flavor of cannabis, and if they have enough herbs and spices going on, do a better job at masking the flavor we are all trying to avoid.
- For those who consider themselves foodies and cannabis connoisseurs, you can match the terpenes in the cannabis strains you are cooking with to the terpenes in your recipe ingredients. This will make the flavors enhance each other rather than fight each other. For instance, match a strain high in myrcene with a mango dish, or a strain high in alpha-pinene in a dish seasoned with rosemary. Terpene matching has a lot in common with wine tasting. Flavor notes and nuances can be subtle, but when you read about those fancy gourmet cannabis dinners by chefs like Andrea Drummer and Chris Yang, the chefs are usually pairing the strains according to what they are preparing. Be sure to download my Free Terpene Cheat Sheet below as it can help you get started.
- If your cannabis purveyor offers a terpeneless distillate for cooking, try it, you may get results on par with commercial edibles makers. But keep in mind, you will be sacrificing the benefits of full spectrum, whole plant medicine.
Do you have other tips for improving the flavor of marijuana edibles? Please share them in the comments section of this post!
FREE Terpene Cheat Sheet
Download my free Terpene Cheat Sheet and start using the power of terpenes to improve your edibles' flavor and enhance their medicinal effects. The handy Cheat Sheet, that you can use in the kitchen or take with you to the dispensary, covers 14 of the most common terpenes, the strains they are commonly found in, their medicinal effects, and foods and recipes they work well in. Fill out the form and get your hands on a copy now!