Traditionally, cannabutter is the basis for marijuana cookery and as the author of The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook, I’ve been approached by people touting literally dozens of different recipes for “the ultimate cannabutter.”
To find out which was best for myself, I took butters into my own hands by testing four top methods side-by-side using the same basic ingredients in each batch.
Using a 1/2 ounce of the same kind of cannabis and 8 ounces of clarified butter as our ingredients, we tested four different methods from well-known cannabis cooks and had the finished butters analyzed by SC Labs and Steep Hill in California. The lab results revealed how much THCa remained in the butter, showing us the potential THC that was not successfully activated, along with other useful information.
The Ultimate Cannabutter Experiment was repeated twice, with different types of cannabis used for each batch, for eight total butter samples. Two different laboratories analyzed each set of samples along with the cannabis used to create the infusions, allowing us to confirm trends by comparing the data sets.
Method 2: Bioavailable Cannabutter
Preparation Time: 9 hours
Equipment: Oven, Freezer, Pyrex Pie Pan, Aluminum Foil
Secret Weapon: Lecithin
Kat Smiles from Bad Kat’s Cannapharm, a popular online resource for cannabis cooks, developed our second method for making cannabutter. In order to increase bioavailability of THC, Kat includes an emulsifier called lecithin with her infusion. While adding lecithin won’t result in extra potency that the lab can measure, the concept of “bioavailability” means that the same amount of THC will feel more potent in your body.
Kat’s method decarbs the trim in the oven at 220ºF for 20 minutes in a Pyrex dish sealed with foil. After adding the lecithin and clarified butter, the dish is re-sealed and returned to the oven for 90 minutes, stirring once halfway. Finally, the infusion is cooled and then frozen for several hours before lastly being thawed, melted and strained. While it’s a time-intensive process with many steps, the fans who follow Kat’s blog swear by its effectiveness.
Learn the Recipe: Bioavailable Cannabutter
Developed by Bad Kat Smiles, this method uses an emulsifier, lecithin, to increase the bioavailability of cannabis and is explained extensively on her website, Bad Kat’s Cannapharm. Using only the oven makes it super simple to prepare.
1/2 oz. flowers
1/2 cup lecithin
8 oz. clarified butter
First, pre-heat your oven to 220ºF and use an oven thermometer to confirm an accurate temperature. Many ovens can vary.
Kat writes: “Unfortunately there is a lot of discrepancy on decarboxylation. If you have freshly harvested wet cannabis, it’s going to take several hours for it to first become smoke-dry, then decarb and activate. If you feel your material is very fresh, but smoke dry, feel free to experiment by adding an extra 10 – 15 minutes. If it’s very old, a faded, more pale shade of green or brown, and you feel it may have crossed a border or two to get to your home, keep to the guide and do not exceed 20 minutes.”
Grind your herb as finely as possible. Sprinkle evenly over the pie dish.
Cover well with aluminum foil, crimping up the sides below the edge and trying to avoid folding it under the dish itself. (A little movement or sliding into the oven disturbs the seal and usually causes that base foil to “lift” open. If you seal it up around the edges instead, it stays in place.)
Place in the oven at 220ºF for 20 – 30 minutes (less for commercial, brown or older looking herb; more for bud that seems fresher). Once your timer has gone off, shut off heat and leave the dish in the oven, open slightly (the door has a few ‘open’ settings… just open it a crack) and remove after 10 minutes. Letting it cool down slowly continues the decarbing process gently, while allowing any potential vapor to settle back into the material you’ll be working with.
Once removed, preheat the oven again to 220ºF.
Melt your solid oils, and heat those liquid oils to ensure any potential water has been evaporated prior to beginning the process. If using butter, clarify it by heating and cooling several times, skimming the milk solids off the surface. Repeat until no solids appear.
Remove your foil lid carefully, since you’ll be re-using it. If it tears, get a fresh sheet.
If you are using lecithin, this is when you’d sprinkle it evenly over the surface of the decarbed herb. Then, pour your clarified butter over. Give it a little mix. Cover with foil, and place back in the oven for 45 minutes. This will be your halfway heating point.
After 45 minutes, remove from the oven (leave it on) and allow the dish to cool for 10 – 15 minutes. Once the temp has dropped, and you can comfortably touch the dish, carefully open it, keeping the foil, then press and mash the herb with a potato masher, or the back of a large spoon. This helps loosen up that glandular material as it’s breaking down and helps expose it to the oil.
Replace the foil lid, seal well and put back in the oven for another 45 minutes. This time, when it’s finished, shut off the heat and leave in the oven until reasonably cool. This will take about a half hour in a sealed still-warm oven.
When finished cooling from the second heating, you can either freeze your material in the dish, if it’s Pyrex, or pour the entire batch into a freezer-safe container.
Freeze it all for at least 2 hours (longer to get the center, if you’ve made more than a cup). Remove, allow to thaw to room temp (or the shock will break your dish and waste all your precious oil), then place back in the oven for just long enough to liquefy and thin out the oil for better straining.
Strain through cheesecloth set into a fine metal mesh strainer and squeeze thoroughly.
Finally you’re finished! Immediately use your new infusion or store it away for use within a few weeks.
Check Out The Other Methods And Results From The Ultimate Cannabutter Experiment:
Method 1: Scientific Cannabutter
Method 2: Bioavailable Cannabutter
Method 3: Water-Simmered Cannabutter
Method 4: Scentless Cannabutter
Results from the Ultimate Cannabutter Experiment
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