First-time growers often get mixed up between drying and curing when it’s time to harvest their cannabis crop. Even some experts are sometimes guilty of not giving this stage the attention it deserves.
The curing process is a bit like putting the cream on your coffee or letting a fine wine mature. It’s there to enhance the taste, aroma and smoothness of your cannabis when you finally get round to using it.
Most aficionados understand this, however, and realize that a little extra time in a sealed jar at the back of a dark cupboard can enhance the end result. It also isn’t the most difficult thing to do. All it requires is a little bit of patience.
Here we take a closer look at how to cure weed as well as outlining why it’s so important. If you’re just starting out growing your first crop of cannabis, it’s a good idea to read up on the process before you actually get to the stage.
That way there won’t be many surprises.
What is Curing?
Simply put, it’s a process whereby a physical or chemical action takes place on a substance, in this case mainly evaporation, which results in a tougher or harder substance. It’s most often seen in food production – smoking bacon or salmon are methods of curing. With food this process helps bring out a deeper flavor and improve potency. In the case of cannabis it can also affect the potency.
In historical terms, curing was one the first method of preserving food as it helped remove harmful bacteria and allowed people to store food for a longer period. Some processes involve smoke, others require chemical reactions with sugar, salt and nitrates.
For cannabis, curing is carried out in a dark place and involves nothing more than putting your dried herbs in an airtight jar and placing it at the back of the cupboard for a few of weeks. The key here is no air and no light. Think of it a bit like making wine – the longer you leave it in the bottle, the better it gets.
While the actual process of how to cure weed and what happens is a mystery to most, the one thing you need to keep in mind is this: If you want a milder, better flavored cannabis, you can’t miss out this stage.
The Difference Between Drying and Curing
First of all, you can’t successfully cure before you’ve dried, so there are no short cuts. The drying process takes most of the moisture out of your herbs while the curing continues that process to a smaller extent but also adds flavor and a little extra strength.
Curing is also about preserving while still retaining the key characteristics such as flavor and, in some cases, improving on them. From the moment you harvest your plants, they are beginning to die and degrade and it’s not long before you risk damage because of bacteria and mold. Not only can these affect the final product they can make it dangerous to use if you’re not careful
If you’ve ever had cannabis that tastes a little harsh, it’s usually because the curing process has been missed out so that there are still residual products such as chlorophyll.
How to Dry Your Weed
To dry your cannabis trimmings, you need to put them in a place with a reasonably stable temperature and low to medium humidity. The correct way to do this is make sure there is plenty of ventilation so that air can move freely around your buds and leaves. This normally involves putting them on a rack or hanging them in an area like a closet.
While some growers have special drying areas, you don’t really need much apart from the right environment.
The ideal temperature is around 20 to 21°C and you should keep the humidity at about 50%. Anything higher in terms of humidity and your cannabis will take time to dry out.
Of course, a lot depends on where you live but the drying process should be relatively slow. California can have quite high humidity while areas like Nevada have low levels practically all year round. Very low humidity isn’t always a good thing, however. It can mean you plant dries out far too quickly which can affect the taste.
Using heaters or even microwaves to speed up the process might sound like a good idea but these can actually damage the cannabis plant. However much of a hurry you are in, try to keep it the drying process as natural as possible.
After a couple of weeks, you should find that the buds are crisp and the stalks will snap easily rather than bend. This usually means you are just about ready to start the curing process.
How to Cure Weed Properly
If you don’t remember anything else about curing cannabis, remember this: It’s all about the dark and an airtight container.
Generally, you want to find a location that is relatively cool and has a stable humidity. The back of a cupboard is fine but if you do a lot of cooking in your kitchen you might want to avoid it as humidity can vary quite a bit.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to remove your buds from the stems and place them in a glass jar or other sealable container. You want this to be as airtight as possible and you should leave some space at the top before you seal it shut. It’s a good idea to make sure that you sterilize any container each time before you use it to cure your weed.
Place the jar in a cool dark place. The trick here is, for the first few days, to come back regularly and quickly open the jar which helps remove any last traces of evaporating moisture. Some cannabis growers call this the ‘burping’ stage as you’re letting the air escape.
Take this moment to make sure that no mold has formed – you’ll often smell a little ammonia when you open the top if this is present. If there are contaminated buds, remove them immediately and continue to check regularly.
After a week or so, you won’t need to open the jars so often and can just leave them to cure on their own. The big question we always get asked at Seedsman is how long you should do this for. Yes, you can start to use the cannabis after even a couple of weeks but you won’t get the full benefit of curing until at least four weeks have gone by.
The average is around 8 weeks and the longer you leave that jar at the back of the cupboard, the better your cannabis will taste.
In truth, you don’t have to be an expert grower to produce a quality cannabis product in the home. What you do need, however, is plenty of patience. The biggest mistake that most new growers make is stopping the drying or the curing process before they have actually finished.
If you have properly cured your cannabis, you should expect it to last at least six months in the containers.
Here at Seedsman, we offer a wide range of storage products.
Learning How to Dry and Cure Weed
There’s a little trial and error when you’re doing the curing yourself. This can take a bit of time but means that can experiment with different times and methods to see what impact it has on your cannabis. Most strains will have plenty of advice online about the best processes and how to implement them so it’s worth checking out.
If you’re growing for recreational use this may well be important, if you’re growing medicinal cannabis it might not be as much.
The good news is that you can sample your cannabis throughout the entire curing process and just take a little out at a time. What you’ll quickly find is that the flavor becomes less harsh and increasingly smoother over time.
Our Top Tips on How to Cure Weed
- Always make sure the drying process is completed and that your cannabis is ready to be cured.
- It’s better to use a natural drying process and take your time rather than force it by artificially raising the temperature.
- Use quality jars with airtight seals. Filling each jar about two-thirds full makes for just about the right amount.
- Find a cool, dark place in your property that has relatively stable humidity levels.
- Always check your jars and open the lids at least a couple of times a day in the first few weeks of curing.
- Don’t get impatient. Give the curing process time to work and you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes to the quality of your cannabis.
If you’ve taken so much time growing your cannabis in the first place, the last thing you will want to do is rush through the drying and curing. Of course, you may be excited that you’ve produced your first crop but your patience will certainly pay off.