Making cannabis-infused foods is a notoriously slow-going process. Thankfully, if you are hoping to learn how to make cannabutter fast, we’ve got you covered. Cannabutter is a primary ingredient in many cannabis-infused recipes or edibles. Known as an “extraction”, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive part of cannabis that gets you high – is removed from the cannabis and infused with the butter.
The butter from a normal recipe is then substituted with cannabutter. You can use any kind of unsalted butter you like for this recipe, though we find that using high-quality butter provides a better taste. High-quality butter has less water, so you will get a higher yield. We also recommend that you decarboxylate your butter first, to ensure that you are infusing the maximum amount of THC possible into your creamy concoction. Your finished butter will have a green tinge to it because of the cannabis.
If you are new to cooking with cannabis, and you’re not sure how much cannabis to use or don’t understand the process, be sure to read through the guidelines below to ensure that you’ve got the basics down before you get started. If you are not careful, cannabutter can easily scorch and develop a bitter flavor. You can also make Cannabutter at home easily and mess-free with the Ardent Nova FX machine, which helps you create fantastic recipes, infusing cannabis easily into butter.
OPTIONAL PREPARATION – CANNABINOID DECARBOXYLATION
So what does it mean to decarboxylate your cannabis? Well it’s chemistry-speak for turning inactive cannabinoids, such as THC-A, CBD-A, and CBN-A, into psychoactive cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD, CBN, etc. When you smoke or vaporize cannabis, the heat you apply does this automatically. Without decarboxylation, the cannabutter won’t get you high in the traditional sense. The THC-A molecule loses its carboxylic group (COOH) in the form of water vapor and carbon dioxide and becomes THC, which is what we want if we want to feel the high. If you want to make the strongest cannabutter possible, this step is not optional. However, if you need very high dosages for medicinal reasons but prefer to avoid an intense high, you can skip this step. Carboxyl-intact cannabutter still has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, mood and metabolism regulating, anti-cancer, anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, and bone growth promoting properties without the intense high that usually goes along with them. If you plan to make carboxyl-intact cannabutter, check out Bad Kat’s carboxyl-intact oil & tincture guide.
So how can we, or how should we, decarboxylate our cannabis? If you read our strain guide you’ll understand the importance of terpenes, but put simply, they affect the type of high. Terpenes are very unstable, so if you use higher temperatures you lose more of them. This means that we’ll want to decarboxylate our cannabis at the lowest temperature possible while still causing the chemical reaction to take place. There are two main methods for accomplishing this, but regardless of the method you choose, make sure you grind your cannabis as finely as possible before you start.
Method 1 – Preheat oven to ~225 F. Spread your cannabis over an oven-safe dish, ideally no deeper than 0.5″ or 1.2 cm in any spot. Cover the dish with foil or put it inside an oven bag (like these, but they’re cheaper at grocery stores) and seal it with a twist tie. Put the sealed dish in the oven for 30 minutes. If your cannabis is fresh and not totally dry, you may want to consider leaving it in the oven for an extra 10-20 minutes. If you’re concerned with the cannabis odor, you can double wrap the dish that goes in the oven. You can leave it uncovered on a cookie sheet if you prefer, but covering the cannabis will allow so me of the vaporized terpenes to reabsorb back into the cannabis as it cools. After leaving it to cool for about 20 minutes, uncover your cannabis and then it’s ready for cooking.
Method 2 – Boil a large pot of water and submerge the cannabis in a tea ball (like this 5″ tea ball, don’t get a small one) or boilable nylon bag (like this one again) for 40 minutes. A tea ball is ideal, but if you follow our advice you’ll use such a milk bag for a later step anyways. After decarboxylation, allow your cannabis another 30 minutes to cool and dry. There are a few advantages to this method. First, since you’re boiling water, you know you’re at the absolute minimum temperature to decarboxylate the weed which helps preserve the terpenes.
The second reason is that the water is able to absorb a lot of the plant-like tastes of the cannabis, allowing your end product to have a cannabis taste that isn’t as overwhelming. Some may like that taste, but for most people, the goal of good cannabutter, aside from potency, is to taste as close to regular butter as possible. When you toss the water used to boil it, you’ll see that this step definitely extracts something from the cannabis because the water isn’t clear. We know the water doesn’t contain any THC since THC isn’t water soluble. Although there are distinct advantages to this method, we usually use the first method since we use water when making our cannabutter anyways.
Make the Cannabutter
4 sticks butter
1 ounce shake, finely ground and decarboxylated
In a medium saucepan bring a quart of water to a boil. You can vary the amounts, just be sure that the marijuana is always floating about 1 ½ to 2 inches from the bottom of the pan.
When the water is boiling, place the butter in the saucepan and allow it to melt completely.
Once the butter has melted you can add the marijuana. Once the weed is added the heat should be turned down, very low, to barely a simmer. I usually let the weed cook for around 3 hours. You can tell it’s done when the top of the mix turns from really watery to glossy and thick.
While the cannabutter is cooking, set up the bowl to hold the finished product. There are a couple of ways to do the straining. I like to use a deep heatproof glass bowl with a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. You can also tie a double layer of cheesecloth around a large heatproof bowl with twine, making it taut across the top.
Strain the marijuana butter over the bowl, being careful not to spill. When the saucepan is empty, carefully undo the twine, pick up the cheesecloth from all four sides, and squeeze out all of the remaining butter.
Allow the cannabutter to cool at room temperature for about an hour. Place in the fridge until the butter has solidified and separated from the water. The THC and other properties have attached to the butter, and you are just about there.
Run a knife around the edge and lift the butter off the water. Place upside down on your work surface and scrape off any of the cooking water. Your cannabuttter is ready to roll. Store in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container.