Most of my friends know I experience chronic, severe depression. They also know that I use cannabis to help alleviate the symptoms of depression. I’ve been using cannabis for over thirty-five years, and over twenty of those years I’ve been using cannabis medically. For several years I photographed cannabis for collectives and during that time I had the opportunity to try over three hundred different strains of marijuana to find what works best for me – you could say my research has been extensive. I’m a strong believer in the ability of cannabis to help me in my daily, on-going experience with depression.
I’ve been spending the last twenty years battling this illness with nearly every pharmacological possibly. Name a psychiatric drug for depression, and I’ve tried it. There are no magic pills out there that will cure my illness. None. And most of the drugs I’ve taken have horrible side effects. If there were a magic pill I’d be happy to take it, but there isn’t. So I’m left with trying to navigate and survive the symptoms as best I can.
I navigate with cannabis because it’s the best thing for my body and mind that I’ve found yet. For the last couple of years I’ve been using cannabis edibles – cannabis-infused chocolate in particular. It’s easy to know the exact dose I’m taking and you can’t taste the herb in the chocolate.
Unfortunately, the company that makes the chocolate bars I buy got raided. The delivery service that I use only had a dozen chocolate bars left on hand and it made me wonder what I was going to do. Soon it occurred to me that I should see if I could make my own cannabis-infused chocolate bars. After a little investigation I realized I think I could do this, and this is how I did it.
Dark chocolate is easy to make. It has five ingredients and takes about a half-hour from start to finish. I made homemade chocolate using coconut oil with honey as the sweetener. It was delicious but unfortunately, using coconut oil meant it melts on your fingers and needs to be refrigerated. I needed a chocolate that was a little more portable than that, I needed chocolate that didn’t need refrigeration, chocolate that I could take with me when I’ll be out and about all day. This left me two options – buy cocoa butter and make real chocolate, or buy pre-made chocolate meant for melting and molding. I choose the second option, A) because it was easier, just being a beginner and all and B) It was less expensive than buying cocoa butter.
I ordered a set of molds with eight squares in each bar and a cannabis leaf in the center of each square.
Each mold makes one 3.5 ounce bar at a time that can be broken into eight separate doses. Filling the two molds takes just over a cup of chocolate. There are 2.67 cups of chocolate in a pound, so each pound of chocolate makes about 4 or 5 bars of chocolate. For my first attempt at melting and molding bars of chocolate I used a brand called Merkens. Delicious dark chocolate, I give it four out of five stars for taste and texture. Five out of five for the ease of use.
HOW TO MAKE CANNABIS CHOCOLATE THE EASY WAY
Both chocolate and cannabis release feel-good chemicals in your brain. Also, chocolate makes cannabis more palatable by smoothing out the flavor. So, why do people love it so much? Once you try it, you will know.
The ingredient list for this recipe is short. You will need chocolate and cannabis. You can use finely ground decarboxylated cannabis or activated cannabis tincture. Use chocolate chips or baking chocolate of your choice.
DECARBOXYLATE CANNABIS FOR MAKING CHOCOLATE
In order to decarboxylate cannabis, break dry cannabis into small pieces, spread out evenly on a baking tray and put into a 240°F preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Place decarbed cannabis into a coffee/spice grinder or use mortar/pestle and grind to a fine powder.
Heat baking chocolate or chocolate chips in a bowl placed on top of a pot of hot water. The bowl must have a larger diameter than the pot to prevent water from contaminating the chocolate. Do not cover the bowl when heating chocolate.
Once the chocolate melts and has a runny consistency, add the ground decarbed cannabis or activated tincture. Mix very well. Continue to heat gently until you have a smooth pourable consistency.
Pour into chocolate molds being careful not to get any water in the chocolate. Let chocolates cool at room temperature.
Store chocolate in a cool, dry place 65 to 68°F with humidity under 55%. The chocolate will remain stable for months.
ESSENTIAL CHOCOLATE MAKING TIPS
You can add lecithin granules to chocolate to improve the viscosity of your chocolate.
Moisture and chocolate do not mix. Never add water, honey, syrup or vanilla extract when making chocolate. The chocolate will seize, thus it will not flow into molds.
How to Make Distillate Infused Cannabis Edibles
Legal cannabis sales across all product types have continued to surge year after year, but no segment of the market has seen more growth than cannabis concentrates, such as vape cartridges, tinctures, shatter, and wax. But there is one form of concentrate leading the way, and according to cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics, that concentrate is cannabis distillate. Not only is cannabis distillate a great product to dab, but it can also be used in at-home infusions to create tasty and effective DIY edibles.
What is Cannabis Distillate?
Many consumers enjoy distillate because of its potency. To make distillate, manufacturers utilize a process called short path distillation, which uses steam, heat, vacuum pressure, and certain boiling points (depending on the cannabinoid) to isolate and purify the desired cannabinoid. This distillation process isolates and increases the potency of both THC (in some cases as high as 99 percent) and CBD – but also leaves behind other compounds found in cannabis like terpenes, as well as any toxins and impurities.
Since the distillation process leaves behind terpenes and plant matter (the compounds that give cannabis its distinctive herby and earthy flavor) what’s left is an odorless, flavorless oil that is ideal making cannabis-infused edibles. Distillates also make it much easier to precisely dose your edibles, which can be tricky when making cannabis infused oil or butter with flower, for example. And, distillate is by default decarboxylated, an important heating process that activates THC’s intoxicating and euphoric kick.
Making Homemade Cannabis Edibles with Distillate
Cooking or baking at home with cannabis distillates is actually incredibly simple, though not quite as simple as putting a few drops from a dropper into a pre-made brownie mix. At the very least, you’ll have to do some stirring. Lucky for us, our very own PotGuide contributor Abby Hutmacher has spelled out a foolproof method to make DIY cannabis distillate infused edibles:
What You’ll Need:
- One gram cannabis distillate
- A bowl of hot water
- Oil or butter
- An oil or butter-based recipe
- With your distillate in its container, place in a bowl of hot water to warm the concentrate (not too hot! Cannabinoids like THC begin to degrade at 230 degrees Fahrenheit)
- While the distillate warms, measure out the oil or butter (liquefied) to the recipe’s specifications
- Drop the gram of distillate into the oil or butter and mix thoroughly to ensure homogenization, a process that breaks big particles into small ones, and provides a uniformity to the product
- Place the combined distillate/oil or butter mixture into a microwave-safe dish and heat on medium power for up to two minutes to ensure all ingredients are combined
- Your oil is ready to be infused into your recipe
As mentioned above, cannabis exposed to high temperatures does degrade, so if you’re baking something, be sure to keep the temperature at 325 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. But be assured that you won’t lose much of cannabis’ kick through baking if done properly. Remember, distillate is extremely potent!