Both drying and curing cannabis help remove excess moisture from the buds, which is vital to the shelf life and quality of the final product. Curing is the process that takes place after drying. During the drying process, the outside of the buds are removed of moisture. During the curing process, the residual moisture and chlorophyll within the buds is leached out, allowing for the buds to reach the desired state for that particular cannabis strain.
When growers dry their buds, they frequently hang branches of the cannabis plant from drying racks. When it is time to cure the buds, growers then trim the buds from their branches and place them in containers with controlled air flow. Both processes require a cool, dark environment for optimal results. Meticulously and persistent attention to these two processes helps growers produce consistent and reputable harvests.
|Cannabis flower that is almost ready to be trimmed
Why do we cure cannabis buds?
Drying and curing cannabis buds properly can help optimize the aroma, flavor, potency, and lifespan of the product. When cured with patience and close attention, cannabis buds can last for a year or longer without diminishing in taste or potency, as they are less prone to the formation of mold. Properly dried and cured cannabis can help cultivators yield products that smoke more smoothly and induce a more pleasant and balanced experience for the consumer.
During the initial drying process and throughout the curing process, buds will continue to change in their molecular makeup. Some of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabinoids in the buds will convert to cannabinol (CBN). Experienced growers are typically very patient in the curing process. They wait for their buds to develop a balance of both THC and CBN; one mark of a high quality harvest.
Curing improves the smell and flavor of cannabis buds by encouraging the degradation of byproducts in the buds after they are freshly harvested. When buds are first harvested, they still contain the sugars and starches stored in plants for continued growth.These molecules will eventually be attacked by airborne bacteria and enzymes. The removal of these byproducts can help cultivators produce buds that smoke more smoothly, smell more appealing, and taste more delectable.
How long does it take to cure cannabis?
Curing cannabis can take anywhere from three weeks to six months. The time it takes to properly cure cannabis can vary greatly depending upon the environment in which it processes. Numerous factors influence the time frame; humidity levels, temperature, breathing method, and curing containers all play a part in the curing process. If the curing containers and room are fluctuating in temperature and humidity, curing can take much longer. There are several steps experienced growers take to control these factors and get the best final product possible. In many instances, a slow cure is a smart decision.
|Jar of fresh cannabis flower|
How to cure cannabis
Transition from drying to curing
While some growers choose to remove the buds from their branches immediately after harvesting, however, many experienced growers prefer to trim their buds after their initial drying. Buds maintain more cannabinoids when they are kept on their branches between the first and second week of drying. Products like Green Broz Model M Dry Trimmer helps maintain the integrity and potency of the buds when preparing buds for the curing process.
Prepare a dark curing environment
Avoiding light exposure during the curing process prevents the degradation of key molecules like THC and terpenes in cured buds. If you are curing your buds in mason jars, you may want to keep the jars in a dark cupboard or box. Some growers also opt for glass jars that filter out all visible light apart from violet to offer the buds additional protection. If you are curing your buds with auto-curing buckets or professional curing technology, it is important for the curing room to be as dark as possible.
Stash flower for curing
When the dry cannabis is ready to be cured, the buds should be placed in air-tight containers that are filled to around 75 percent capacity. One way to test whether the buds are ready for curing, shake the jar after filling it with buds. If the buds rattle around freely, they are likely ready for curing. If shaking the jar makes the buds clump together, the exterior of the buds may need to dry further.
Monitor humidity and temperature levels
Most growers agree that the optimal humidity levels are between 45 and 65 percent and optimal temperatures are around 21°C/69.8°F. The only way to measure humidity is with a hygrometer. For at least the first 24 hours of the curing process, it is wise to check the buds twice a day for any mold development. If humidity levels are too high, anaerobic bacteria is encouraged to grow, which breaks down the buds. Alos, if the smell of ammonia emerges from the containers when they are opened, you likely need to lower the humidity levels in the room or leave the containers open for longer periods of time. Experienced growers often suggest the containers should be left open for periods of around three hours. To prevent humidity from fluctuating, you may also place humidity packs in affected containers to maintain consistent levels of moisture in the air.
Let the buds breath
After the first few days, if your stash is curing appropriately, the jars should be opened briefly once a day for at least the next two weeks. This practice in curing is known as ‘burping’ the stash. If you have an auto-curated system in place, this step in the curing process is eliminated. After three weeks in a carefully controlled environment, many growers will have produced fully cured buds. Different strains require different conditions and curing periods, so it is important to do your research before attempting to dry and cure specific strains.
How to cure cannabis with automation
While many novice growers can manage individually ‘burping’ each jar they are curing, it can become extremely time consuming when growers start to harvest larger quantities of cannabis. This is why many experienced growers harvesting large amounts of cannabis buds choose to automate their curing method.
Auto curing can be accomplished through ‘auto-curing buckets.’ These are typically assembled using food grade, bpa free five gallon buckets with gamma seal lids. Each bucket can hold approximately two pounds of flower, drastically increasing harvesting capacity.
Modifying the buckets for auto-curing requires initial effort, but significantly reduces the work required during the curing process.
To modify the buckets, growers must drill holes in the bucket and insert silicone tubing capped with check valves to create intake and exhaust functions. The tubes are linked to an air pump that regulates air during the curing process, replacing the manual act of unscrewing jars to breathe periodically.
Large-scale growers also automate the curing process with professionally constructed technology designed to provide the same air flow control as auto-curing buckets.
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