Hot 'n Fresh Outta the Kitchen: Baking with Marijuana

As a long-time marijuana enthusiast and new resident of California, I am tickled pink about the upcoming ballot to legalize and have been yearning to get involved in the business of medical marijuana, like so many others. I recently came across an ad seeking a Baker of gourmet ganja brownies, cake, pastries, and truffles and immediately replied, citing my culinary skills, experience, and enthusiasm. This led me to do some research on baking with mary jane, because while I have enjoyed pot brownies in the past, I have never made any and have always wondered how it is done. This is what I found out.

Baking with marijuana means that you are going to start off making pot butter, marijuana milk, or cannabis infused oil. THC is not water soluble so you need to incorporate the cannabinoids into an oil based medium before folding it into your dry ingredients. If you are using leaves, shake, or trimmings, you will need to use a bit more than if you are using buds. However, most people reserve the expensive buds for smoking and the lower quality, less expensive buds or leaves for baking.

There are a few different methods out there for making cannabis butter, all very interesting and basically employing the same concept of extracting THC from the plant into oil, butter, milk (and in one case, spaghetti sauce!). After sorting the seeds, stems, and any debris out by hand, you can also rinse or quickly submerge the leaves or bud into a pot of simmering water for a few seconds to clean further. Simmer 1 ounce of leaves (or 3.5 grams of bud) in ½ cup of butter (or a quart of milk) in a crock-pot overnight or a saute' pan on low, anywhere from 30 mins to 1 hour. One method suggests using a combination of water and butter, as the THC will adhere to the butter and the taste of the plant material will be discarded along with the water, after skimming the floating green butter off the top or straining with a cheesecloth, once it has cooled and coagulated. Others suggest making tea bags out of coffee filters and stuffing with ground marijuana before simmering in butter. Another alternative is straining the batch of butter and loose leaf cannabis with a cheesecloth or coffee filter after it has been cooked and allowed to cool.

Of all the the methods I've read – I think the one that makes the most sense to me, from a standpoint of science and taste, is to use a crock-pot with 1 cup of water, ½ cup of unsalted butter, to 1 ounce of leafy bud, on a low setting overnight. Because both butter and milk burn so easily - it makes sense to use the gentlest heat setting possible, over a longer period of time. However, I would also like to try the saute' method – using ½ cup of oil and 1 ounce of leafy bud, on a low heat setting for 30 mins and then straining with a cheesecloth afterwards for brownies. I'd also like to try 4 cups of milk to 1 ounce of quality buds in the crock-pot on a low setting, left overnight, and then make handmade ice cream. Once finished cooking, allow to cool and store in a glass container with a tight fitting lid in the fridge.

Once you have made the pot butter, milk, or oil – you can incorporate it into just about any recipe. At the top of everyone's list are brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and truffles. A classic recipe for pot brownies is as follows:

½ cup of cannabutter
1 1/3 cup flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg

Blend butter, egg, and sugars together. Sift all dry ingredients in separate bowl and then slowly mix wet with dry. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 mins and enjoy!

There are many great resources online for baking with marijuana- of all, this was my favorite:

The Stoner's Cookbook

In print, I came across The Art and Science of Cooking with Cannabis by Adam Gottlieb, published in 1974.

I'm really excited to start baking and creating with cannabis now that I know the basic principles of extracting the THC from the organic plant material. Some other useful tips include making smaller, more potent quantities of baked goods instead of larger cakes, which would take longer to digest and therefore dilute the effects. Everyone advised to start off eating a small quantity of butter or brownie because ingesting THC gets you much higher than smoking it. (This is true.) Allow up to 4 hours before expecting to feel the effects and definitely avoid eating too much (patience!) – which could cause negative side effects like passing out, nausea, or paranoia. From personal experience, I know that 1 teaspoon of cannabutter in my tea or a few drops of cannabis-infused oil under the tongue is very satisfactory. If you or anyone you know is in extreme pain or discomfort, a pot brownie is just what the doctor ordered because it is definitely a relaxed, fun, full-body experience that lasts for hours. (And if you are going to a 3 day outdoor music festival or camping trip with friends -don't leave home without them!)