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Cannabutter

Cannabutter South Africa

Cannabutter is a primary ingredient in many cannabis-infused recipes or edibles. However, making infused butter can be a little bit tricky. In order to activate its psychoactive potential, the flower must be heated slowly at a low temperature. This recipe will first guide you through this process – called decarboxylation – before walking you through a step-by-step guide to infusing butter with Cannabis.

Essentially there are two different methods of making Cannabutter in South Africa.

Which cannabutter recipe you decide upon is entirely up to you. We’ve listed the more basic recipe first and the more advanced method second. The main diference in the end result is that the firstr ecipe will keep the smell and colour of your Cannabis used while the second will appear and smell more like your traditional butter. Many South Africans don’t like that ‘grass’ taste or smell so if this opting for the second method.

When you’re making cannabutter, the key thing to remember is “low and slow”. Infusing the butter over low heat for several hours, never letting it boil, allows for full activation of the THC without scorching the herb.

Note: Homemade edibles are very difficult to accurately dose. This guide will give you some tips for more precise dosing, but all DIY cannabis cooks should be aware that there’s no way to guarantee the potency or homogeneity of their batch.

Below an easy, quick way to infuse cannabis into butter on your stove top. Be sure to use salted butter since it has a higher smoke point, and don’t leave your saucepan unattended! You can make this cannabutter relatively quickly, and use it in many ways and even create your own signature cannabutter dish.

Note: For medical patients, I would recommend using 60g cannabis to 500g of butter, effectively making a double-strength cannabutter. And perhaps also swap out the salted butter for the unsalted option, just remember to keep your eye on the temperature.

Butter is a delicious and versatile carrier for THC and other cannabinoids, although it isn’t the only one. You can also use coconut oil, olive oil, or any other fatty oil for your infusions. Just keep in mind, butter burns easily, so keep a close eye on your cannabutter as it cooks.

Butter or Coconut Oil?

There are two really popular oils/fats to use for making edibles, and they’re both competing for the top spot. They are butter and coconut oil. Coconut oil is generally considered healthier and has a very mild taste that goes very well with baked goods. Coconut seems to really help cover up the cannabis flavour and I have used it for making superb canna caps. But some people don’t like coconut, or are allergic to it.

Butter also has a great taste (in my opinion) and is easier to work with when it comes to baking since you can do a straight substitution for regular butter. I decided to go with butter (ie cannabutter) in this tutorial because that is what I started with for making baked goods and other edibles, and it works great!

Note: If you want consistent butter without having to actually make it on a stove like in this recipe, you might want to take a look at the Magical Butter Machine! It lets you just add herb plus butter, and does most of the work for you!

Recipe 1.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 cup (7-10 grams) of ground cannabis, decarboxylated

Directions for Decarboxylating Cannabis

Before making your cannabutter, you’ll need to decarboxylate the cannabis flower you’re working with. Skipping this step will result in a weak or inactive finished product. Here’s why: Cannabis buds produce a non-intoxicating acidic cannabinoid called THCA. When we smoke or vaporize cannabis, the heat converts THCA into THC, the molecule that delivers euphoric effects. If preparing CBD edibles, this same process should be applied.

Some recipes may instruct you to decarb cannabis in the hot butter directly, but the less time you spend soaking the buds, the better your infused butter is going to taste. For this reason, we recommend decarbing in the oven first.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Preheat your oven to 118ºC.
  2. Place your cannabis buds on a non-stick, oven-safe tray. You can also cover the tray with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
  3. Insert the tray into the oven and set a timer for 30 to 40 minutes. Older, drier cannabis may require less time. (Tip: you can also set your oven to 145ºC and heat for 10 to 18 minutes, although low-and-slow is the recommended approach when decarbing to better preserve cannabinoids.)
  4. Every 10 minutes, gently mix the buds with a light shake of the tray. This helps to expose the surface area of the buds equally.

Now, your cannabis has been decarboxylated and you’re ready to cook your butter.

Directions for Slow Cooker:

  1. Grind your cannabis coarsely with a hand grinder. (Tip: A coffee grinder will finely pulverize the flower and prevent effective straining of bad-tasting plant material.)
  2. Set your slow cooker to low, or somewhere around 160ºF. (Tip: Avoid exceeding 200ºF to prevent burning or wasting cannabinoids. You can also add a little water to help prevent scorching.)
  3. Add the butter and ground cannabis. Stir occasionally.
  4. After about 3 hours, turn off the crockpot and wait for the butter to cool.
  5. Proceed to straining instructions below.

Directions for Stove Top:

  1. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of butter into a stock pot or sauce pan. Simmer on low and let the butter melt. Adding water helps to regulate the temperature and prevents the butter from scorching.
  2. As butter begins to melt, add in your coarsely ground cannabis product.
  3. Maintain low heat (ideally above 70ºC but never exceeding 90ºC) and let the mixture simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture should never come to a full boil.
  4. Proceed to straining instructions below.

Straining Your Cannabutter:

  1. Set a funnel on top of a jar and line it with cheesecloth. Once the butter has cooled off, pour it over the cheesecloth funnel and allow it to strain freely. (Tip: Squeezing the cheesecloth may push more bad-tasting plant material through).
  2. Refrigerate the jar of butter.

Recipe 2.

Ingredients

  • 30g dried cannabis bud, or 3 oz dried trim
  • 500g butter (usually 4 sticks of butter)
  • Cheese cloth

Step 1 – Decarboxylation

Please refer to the decarb directions above as it is the same.

Step 2 – Cook cannabis together with butter & water

1.) Bring 4 cups (950 mL) of water to a boil.

2.) Turn heat down to Medium-Low, then add the butter and wait until it melts into the water.

3.) Add your decarboxylated cannabis to the water. The cannabis plant matter will float, and there should be at least an inch or two of clearance under the cannabis. If not, add more water. Don’t worry that adding more water will change the potency, as you’ll be separating the water out later. The “good stuff” in cannabis doesn’t stick to water, in fact, water actually filters out a lot of the stuff we don’t want that make butter taste bad!

4.) Allow to cook on Medium-Low for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. The bubbles should be gently rising to the top of the water but not actively boiling.

Step 3 – Separate potent butter from inert cannabis plant material and water

1.) Line a large bowl with two layers of cheese cloth. We’ll be using this to strain out the inert plant matter from the butter!

2.) Strain the water/oil/cannabis mixture. It’s hot! Don’t wring it out with your hands or you’ll burn yourself! Take a spatula to press it against the sides to squeeze out the last bit of butter!

3.) Put the bowl in the fridge overnight. All the “good stuff” is contained in the butter/oil, which floats to the top. The water and any remaining plant matter will sink to the bottom. When you open the fridge, the butter will have hardened and appear much lighter.

4.) Use a knife to cut around the outside edges and it usually will “pop” off in a big piece.

The water filtered out all this! None of the “stuff” in this brown water would have added to the potency of your butter, but it would have made your butter taste worse!

By filtering it out with water, you’ll end up with better tasting cannabis butter with less of a strong smell (without affecting the potency)!

5.) Put your finished cannabutter in its own container for storage/use! If you’d like, you can turn it upside down on a plate to help the bottom dry out.

Why use water instead of cooking cannabis directly in butter or oil?

You don’t have to use water when making cannabutter, but it has a few benefits over using just butter by itself:

Pros of Using Water

  • water leaches out chlorophyll during the cooking process so when the water is removed the resulting butter has less of a green taste and colour
  • during the separation process, any remaining plant matter sinks out of the cannabutter into the water below, further filtering out inert stuff that tastes bad and doesn’t affect the potency

Overall this results in a reduced taste, colour and smell of cannabis, while the potency stays the same – it’s the secret to making cannabutter that doesn’t taste like a skunk just sprayed some cut grass! There is still going to be a cannabis taste/smell whenever you make butter, but it’s far reduced!

Cons of Using Water

  • cannabutter made with water should be used quickly if kept in the fridge, since the extra moisture makes it more likely to mold than if water wasn’t used (however, cannabutter freezes well so it can be put it in the freezer for months without losing any potency)

When using water as part of the process, there will be less of a cannabis taste in the butter since the water binds to chlorophyll and other untasty parts of the plant that don’t actually affect the potency

Additionally, less plant material makes it into the butter for two reasons. First, melted butter and water easily flows through cheesecloth so you can strain out the plant matter without using a lot of physical force. When using just butter you have to press everything through a mess strainer, which introduces a lot more plant material in the final product. Second, during the separation process, any extra inert plant matter that somehow did make it through the cheesecloth will sink to the bottom so it doesn’t end up in your butter (which floats to the top).

Dosing.

The resulting potency of your cannabutter is heavily influenced by the amount/strength of your starting cannabis! Additionally, each people will be affected by edibles differently, so it’s highly recommended you start with less than you think! Additionally, edibles can take up to 2-3 hours to take effect, especially if eating them on a full stomach, so don’t eat any more in that time period because you think “it’s not working!” To get the cannabis effects to come on more quickly, try to eat edibles on an empty stomach. However, sometimes that can give people indigestion so listen to your body! However use it, use low, and go slow. Know your tolerance level.

Storage

As long as you use plastic wrap or an airtight container, your cannabutter will keep in the fridge for several weeks and in the freezer for up to six months. If you used the second recipe then we suggest you put a week’s lifespan on the butter as the addition of water may cause it to mold. We recommend labelling your cannabutter so it doesn’t get used by someone unknowingly. Keep out of the reach of children.

It’s time to get cooking. Here are a few ideas that will make good, quick use of your creation. Add a teaspoon or two to a warm maple syrup to use on pancakes or waffles. Butter bread for a Panini before grilling, and use it to sauté some asparagus in a pan with some Parmesan and garlic. Join the CannaClub SA facebook group for more inspiration. We even had a member, Chef Marlon Cheslyn De Freitas,  showcase his culinary skills with a delicious cannabutter basted grilled crayfish that looked divine.

Also by Marlon – Smoked snoek fish cakes that I infused with coriander,lemon zest, spring onions and Cannabis butter to bind it all together and fried in Cannabis oil until golden

Laid on a creamy corn thick soup infused with fresh chopped Cannabis and mixed with Cannabutter topped with micro herbs very fresh and light tasting dish but packs quite a kick.