Yoni brings his 4 years experience in solventless cannabis manufacturing to help solventless hashmakers and consumers increase their knowledge base.
We're fortunate to have Yoni Cooperman write this week's blog post, where he shares his insights from years of experience processing and enjoying solventless concentrates. You can learn more about Yoni in his bio at the end of this article. Thanks Yoni!
Solventless concentrates are known both for their richness in terpenes and their fidelity to the plant’s distinct terpene profile. Preserving these terpenes requires care and intentionality at each stage of the product life cycle from farm to dab rig. In this article we’ll cover critical steps relevant at each stage of the process that you can take to “preserve the terps” and produce a concentrate that faithfully reflects the flavor and aroma of the source flower.
Cannabis terpenes are produced and stored within the trichomes, the small structures that lend cannabis flowers their shimmering character. Trichomes degrade when exposed to heat and light, and can separate from the plant when improperly handled. For these reasons, it is critical to design a harvest strategy that reduces the time between harvest and freezing while minimizing how much the plants are disturbed. Have a clear plan in place before starting the harvest. Prior to cutting down any plants, create guidelines regarding the weight you will be adding to each bag and the frequency with which you will transport filled bags to the freezer. Finding out halfway through that you are missing materials or lacking storage space can spell disaster for a crop destined for solventless processing.
Prior to chopping down any plants, adjust the freezer to a sufficiently low temperature, shooting for 0° F or lower. Pre-chill your totes or boxes with the tops removed to avoid trapped pockets of heat. Placing plants into a warm environment quickly leads to melting and trichome degradation. Once the storage area and containers are prepared, assess the conditions in the harvesting area. Trimming in the shade reduces exposure to heat and sunlight. If you are harvesting an indoor crop, monitor the temperature in your harvest rooms so they do not become excessively warm.
While harvesting, handle the plants as delicately as possible. The late Frenchy Cannoli taught that trichomes are separated from the plant like ripe fruit that fall easily from a tree. This means that you risk losing the ripest, most terpene-rich trichomes if plants are handled too roughly. Load bags gently, and absolutely do not compress the material if you plan to use vac seal bags. The most important principle to remember is that we want to keep the trichomes attached to the plant up until the point the material is washed. Losing these mature trichome heads results in a terpene profile that feels dull and lacks pop.
Each stage of production can affect the terpene profile. Test washes are the first opportunity to examine the full breadth of a cultivar’s terpenes. Separate each wash’s fractions on your collection trays and then press each fraction independently. Doing this allows you to gauge when the resulting rosin detracts from the overall aromatic character instead of contributing to it.
Not all fractions may reach this point at the same wash number. For instance, the 70um from the first wash may enhance the overall terpene profile, but by wash two the hash is no longer helping to emulate the cultivar’s terpene profile. However, the 90um and 120um from later washes may still contribute positively to the fidelity of the cultivar’s flavor and aroma. While the most mature trichomes separate from the plant first, other less mature trichomes also play a role in creating the full terpene experience. By casting a slightly wider net you will be able to capture a more well rounded profile. Taking detailed notes on the terpene profiles will help you during this process.
Properly done, cold curing can help develop a more complex terpene profile, but improper curing can reduce rosin quality by hastening terpene loss. If you decide to cold cure your rosin, there are a few precautions you can take to avoid degrading and losing terpenes. First and foremost, fill your curing jars fully to minimize the amount of air contained in the jars. Rosin exposed to air will oxidize causing terpene degradation. Additionally, a thicker layer of rosin will reduce the amount of surface area and help avoid unnecessary evaporative terpene loss.
Once the rosin is fully cured, do not overmix while homogenizing. Think pancake batter: work it until there are no lumps, but don’t overdo it. You can avoid incorporating oxygen into the rosin by using a downwards chopping motion instead of stirring. After the rosin is cured and homogenized, package it in jars that seal well. Using smaller jars minimizes any air that the rosin can react with after it leaves your facility and before it is consumed.
As a consumer you also have an important role in achieving a clear expression of the plant’s terpene profile. Keeping your rig clean ensures that you are only tasting what you are currently dabbing, and not the remnants of dabs past. Different terpenes boil at different temperatures, so it is impossible to give a single temperature that will be best for all cultivars.
Try out a range of temperatures, starting at around 450° F, and gradually increasing until you find the sweet spot of maximum flavor without any harsh notes. Utilizing lower dabbing temperatures may result in more residue remaining in your banger.
Take Home Message
Preserving a cultivar’s distinct terpene profile is a team effort, requiring intentionality across the full product lifecycle. With the help of every player in the process, the superiority of solventless terpene profiles can be maintained for maximum enjoyment and appreciation of the diverse range of cannabis aromas and flavors.
More About Yoni
Yoni brings his 4 years experience in solventless cannabis manufacturing to help solventless hashmakers and consumers increase their knowledge base. As a member of the Doc Greenʼs team, Yoni oversaw the production of award winning products, including the winning entry of the "Best Solventless Cartridge" at the 2022 Emerald Cup. His time working in solventless has given him a deep appreciation for both the process and the products. Yoni is currently on the market for a new job, if you think his knowledge and skills may be a good fit for your company, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out his instagram @splitopenandfullmelt.
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