Drying and curing

Once you’ve harvested your plants the maturing stops. Don’t get taken in by the myths about hanging it upside down to control movement of liquid or anything along those lines, that’s simply incorrect. All life, activity and cell development stops once it’s cut down.

It IS true that curing properly can improve the aroma and flavor, but as we’re doing this for medical oil-producing reasons that’s not really a concern. All you need to do is trim off the large leaves (often called the ‘sugar leaves’) and hang the rest somewhere to dry slowly. The conditions should be a little cooler than when they were growing; normal room temperatures (60-70°F, 16-21°C) rather than the 77-82°F, 25-28°C of growing conditions is good.

Smokers will typically want to trim off all but the buds themselves and the smallest leaves around those, but for medicinal use there’s goodness in more than just those parts. I remove the large sugar leaves that jut out below the junction of most branches and much of the medium-size ones, but I watch for anything – leaves and stems – that has trichomes (the tiny hairlike things) as those carry cannabinoids and contribute a lot to what ends up in the final product. Don’t throw out what can be a useful part of your medicine! For reference, the header image in this post shows much heavier trimming than I perform.

Once a twig or branch breaks rather than bends your harvest will be dry and ready to be cut from the branches and twigs, and stored in jars in a dark cupboard. This is now ready to be turned into oil – or smoked if you prefer, although you won’t get as much medical benefit from that method.

For the first couple of weeks you should open your jars at least once a day to allow air change. This process is known as ‘burping’ (I know, charming!) and helps prevent mustiness and mold. If you do get mold in your jar of cannabis I’m afraid you really should throw it away. So to minimize the risk it’s better to use a few small or medium size jars rather than one large one, at least until it’s fully dried and cured.

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