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For centuries, cannabis has been eaten around the world, with majoon being one of the most popular eastern dishes. The Arab confection is made with hash, dried fruit, nuts, honey and spices. But lately cannabis edibles have infiltrated not just the usual brownies and cookies, but also unusual desserts like peach cobbler, high-end dining entrees and even cocktails.

As you’d expect, there’s a science to cannabis cooking that is one part skill, one part creativity, and two parts gaining knowledge of the many ways you can chow down on cannabis.

One of the world’s leading experts on culinary cannabis is Elise McDonough of Santa Cruz, California, the author of The High Times Cookbook and the upcoming Bong Appetit cookbook. The 50-recipe High Times Cookbook featured goodies that go beyond the expected sweets normally associated with edibles, which she replicated in her upcoming recipe book.

In an interview1, McDonough highlights recipes such as THC-infused quiches, tamales, seafood stews, hummus dips and pumpkin pie.

“We want to show the versatility of what cannabis can offer you in the kitchen,” she says.

What beginners have to realize is that cannabinoids are usually dissolved in fat, which is why cannabis butter has long been such a favourite for cooks. But brownies are just the beginning, McDonough stresses; why not add that butter to a pie crust and make a unique pie you normally wouldn’t associate with cannabis-friendly confectioneries? Or why not make a cannabis-friendly mayonnaise?

A key issue for many cannabis cooks, and eaters, is THC consistency. How can cannabis chefs ensure there truly is 10 mg of THC in each slice of pie, for example?

“You can’t,” McDonough says bluntly. “Homogeneity of a batch is a huge concern for the cannabis cooking community and some products are easier to homogenize like chocolate, but with something like cake batter, there’ll be pockets where more cannabis butter is concentrated, and one piece may be stronger than another but the variation is small.”

Any cannabis cook has to warn diners about the effects that ingesting cannabis can have on the body, which is a subject not everyone is knowledgeable about today. As Shekhar Parmar, the CEO of Harvest Medicine, a medical cannabis producer, told reporters2: “When you're inhaling, it's called Delta-9-THC, and when you eat it, it actually goes through your liver and becomes 11-Hydrox-THC and that actually makes it a lot more of an intense impact for people.” Translation: Getting high on cannabis edibles can last a lot longer than smoking a joint.

For those opting to cook with CBD, as opposed to THC, in order to get the effects of the non-psychoactive CBD, McDonough says the culinary experience doesn’t vary much, except cooks should note that CBD evaporates at higher temperatures than THC. “Just make sure you use high-CBD strains,” she adds.

THC-infused drinks are all the rage, as evidenced by Big Business’s involvement with cannabis brands, such as Constellation Brands (maker of Corona beer) investing $4 billion into Canopy Growth. Warren Bobrow, the author of three books on cannabis-infused cocktails, sees a healthy future for cannabis drinks.

“I believe cannabis will be as pervasive in food and drink as Aqua Velva was in shaving,” he says in an interview.3 

Bobrow’s joy in working with cannabis is practically infectious, as he explains what propelled him into this space: “I get massive satisfaction by making tasty little cocktails and mocktails that are exciting and fun, have a minimum of ingredients and are easy to make. They also have THC in them and you will get stoned!”

He uses around 150 mg of THC per drink, which is extremely strong, considering that many American states with legal cannabis don’t allow more than 100 mg of THC in one packaged good. Alcohol also makes the THC hit quicker, which should be a cautionary note to those who are sensitive to ingested cannabis.

McDonough echoes Bodrow when she crystal-balls the future of cannabis in the kitchen: “I think cooking with hash or cannabis will be as common as any other seasoning.”

  1. Via interview conducted September 6, 2018
  2. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/cooking-with-cannabis-pot-101-1.4666497
  3. Via interview conducted September 5, 2018

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