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Psychedelicatessen: Winter Weed Punch

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“Welcome to Psychedelicatessen, a weekly column exploring the world of cannabis cuisine, including recipes from the great chefs and ganjapreneurs who fuel our appetite for adventure.”

Colorado edibles makers have had a busy year, developing their businesses while new regulations and increased media scrutiny demand safe solutions to prevent consumers from biting off more than they can chew. Many new ventures experienced such explosive growth that simply holding on has been a challenge, as demand grows and tourists crowd Denver’s newly legal retail stores. “It’s been a big year for edibles,” says Tim McDowell, proprietor of MarQaha, who won a third place at the U.S. Cannabis Cup in Denver last April for his One Eye Open Sativa-Based Lemonade & Black Tea bottled beverage. “We managed our growth pretty well,” Tim says, “and now we’re more unified as an industry.”

With a culinary and business school background plus extensive experience running commercial kitchens, McDowell realized that placing his company at the forefront of food safety would serve his long-term goals of legitimizing cannabis medicine. By fully cooperating with the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division and joining an industry group, Cannabis Business Alliance, MarQaha helped to establish packaging guidelines based on their inventive bottle labeling. With incremental 10-milligram dosages clearly marked on the side of the bottle, MarQaha proved its possible for an infused drink to abide by the commonsense regulations laid out by the state. Legalization has brought new users who want low-dose products, and Tim remarks that while “there’s a hardcore element who wants the strongest edible, for most that’s an uncomfortable experience… We’re getting a more accurate view of what the public really wants.”

MarQaha invests in considerable research and development for their sublingual tinctures, sprays, drinks and drops, and will shortly be releasing a low-dose “one-hit wonder” with only 10 milligrams of THC per package, while 2.5 mg drops are aimed at an older demographic interested in micro dosing. “Overall, medical sales are still higher than retail sales,” Tim says, “but edibles are selling better on the retail side.”

With only six employees, MarQaha is gaining momentum with distribution in over 300 Colorado locations, and licensing deals in the works for Nevada, Arizona and California. “There’s absolutely more demand and interest,” Tim says, “our timing has been great.”

Tim’s Winter Punch recipe is a festive, delicious spiced beverage meant for holiday gatherings. Replacing the traditional whiskey with a cannabis extract means this drink will come on faster than most solid edibles, as well as offer an alternative to alcohol. “The intent is to feel good, not get wasted.” Tim says, “so imbibe responsibly.”

Spiced Winter Punch

By its classic definition, a punch is made up of five components: water, citrus, alcohol, spice and oleo-saccharum. But not today… we’re going to remove the water and alcohol and add juice and cannabis. We recommend a whole-plant food-grade ethanol cannabis extraction, decarboxylated and fully active. If this is not available to you, feel free to substitute with the activated cannabis extractions of your choice. We have experimented with small amounts of infused coconut oil with great results as well. You can also switch out the oranges for grapefruit, or the pomegranate juice for cranberry juice. Experiment and have fun! Note: Punch is best prepared and served with weird, rowdy friends.

Begin by making the oleo-saccharum. This funky made-up looking word is the best-kept secret for a killer punch recipe. You are essentially dissolving sugar (saccharum) into citrus oil (oleo) to make concentrated amazingness.

Oleo-saccharum

The peels from 4-6 oranges
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Peel the oranges with as little of the pith as possible. Muddle the peels with the sugar and let sit for 30 minutes. Mix with lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Strain out the peels. Set aside.

On to the Simple Syrup. The goal here is to extract the goodies from the whole spices using heat and water. This is also where we add the activated cannabis extract. You should know your tolerance and the strength of your cannabis extract, if not, be sure to start low and go slow!

Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 whole black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
2 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
Activated cannabis extract

Bring sugar, water, peppercorns, cloves, ginger, cinnamon stick, and star anise to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Place in blender and emulsify activated cannabis extract into the simple syrup. Let cool and set aside.

Juice

8   oz fresh squeezed orange juice
24 oz pomegranate juice
12 oz pineapple juice
12  oz black tea

Steep the black tea and cool. Mix the fresh squeezed orange juice, pomegranate juice, pineapple juice, and steeped black tea in a large blender. Turn blender onto high speed and slowly pour in the cannabis infused simple syrup. Continue to mix for 30 seconds. Lower the speed and add the oleo-saccharum. Turn off blender and serve over ice. Kick back, reflect on all the badass things you did in 2014, look around the room and love the ones you’re with!

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