The Difference between Drying, Curing, Storing, and Aging Cannabis
🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur
Likewise, the right drying, curing, storing, and aging techniques can’t transform mediocre quality into a premium product. Growing excellent cannabis is always the prerequisite for an excellent end product. Once the cannabis plant reaches full maturity and its trichome heads are at peak ripeness, it’s time to harvest the plant and then move onto the next phase. Learn how to determine the right time to harvest your plants in the article How To Harvest Cannabis for Peak Trichome Ripeness.
In this article we’ll talk about what to do with cannabis after it’s harvested, and go into specifics for flower, bubble hash, and rosin.
Drying is the first phase of preparation immediately after harvesting cannabis plants. The goal of drying flowers is to allow the majority of the moisture content within to slowly and evenly escape by way of evaporation. Immediately after plants are harvested they’re hung upside down to dry in a controlled environment, usually anywhere from 7-14 days. Drying is complete when the outer layer of the flowers feels somewhat brittle to the touch. The flowers should also feel dense on the inside while giving them a slight squeeze between the fingers. The smaller stems should crackle and snap when folded in half, a signal that the excess moisture has been evaporated.
Other changes including chemical transformations take place while cannabis flowers dry. Most notably, THC is converted from its non psychoactive, acidic form (THC-A) into its non-acid, psychoactive form (THC). In order for cannabis to deliver it’s famous stoney and euphoric effects, this important metamorphosis must take place, and it happens naturally during the drying process. This is why you won’t get high by picking fresh buds off of a live plant and smoking them.
Another beneficial transformation involves the breakdown of chlorophyll while the flowers are dried. Chlorophyll is responsible for the harsh, unpleasant flavor you may have unfortunately experienced in low quality cannabis. Properly dried flowers will provide a smoother and more pleasant smoke.
Environmental factors to control while drying cannabis include temperature, humidity, light exposure, and airflow. Learn more about how to set up the ideal drying room for cannabis in our article Best Environment for Hang Drying Cannabis Flowers.
It’s important to note that while all cannabis destined to be smoked requires drying, cannabis that’s meant for hash making can be given the “fresh frozen” treatment instead. Fresh frozen material refers to cannabis that’s harvested and then immediately frozen to preserve all of the qualities of the live plant, including moisture content. Fresh frozen material goes right into a freezer and skips the drying process. Learn more about Fresh Frozen cannabis in our article How To Prepare Fresh Frozen Cannabis for Washing Bubble Hash.
Both air dried and fresh frozen cannabis can be used as starting material in the ice water extraction process for washing bubble hash. For more in depth information about the two preparations, check out Fresh Frozen or Dry Flowers for Washing Bubble Hash.
Like cannabis flowers, freshly-made bubble hash also goes through a drying process. After the ice water extraction is complete, hash is completely soaked with water and unusable in its saturated form. Hash can be dried in a variety of ways, including inside of a freeze dryer or in the open air. Dive into the topic of drying hash in our article Best Ways to Dry Bubble Hash.
Rosin is unique in that it doesn’t require any drying time, which is one of the great benefits of pressing rosin! By the time cannabis material is ready for pressing into rosin, there’s no remaining moisture that needs to be removed after the extraction is complete.
After the drying phase is complete, some moisture will still be left within the flowers. This is not only okay, it is actually desirable. Overly drying flowers within the first two weeks of harvest can actually diminish overall quality. The curing process allows the remaining moisture to evaporate very slowly within sealed glass jars over the course of multiple weeks.
While drying facilitates the bulk of moisture evaporation for freshly harvested cannabis flowers, a good cure slowly brings out the very best of the buds. Once the flowers are dry they can be smoked, but the experience will be lacking if they’re not cured first. Curing cannabis in sealed glass jars slowly and steadily brings out the rest of the moisture content, allows the cannabinoids to continue transforming into non-acids, and works out the remaining chlorophyll. Cured cannabis flowers smoke much more smoothly than cannabis that’s only been dried for a couple weeks in the open air.
Want the full process? Check out our other article How To Cure Cannabis Flowers.
Once hash is thoroughly dried it’s ready for consumption by itself, or as starting material for hash rosin. Curing hash isn’t necessary. That said, hash is often stored and aged for extended periods of time, which we’ll discuss later.
Like curing flowers, curing rosin brings out the very best of its attributes. However, the main idea behind curing rosin isn’t to slowly remove any remaining moisture. Curing rosin helps to stabilize (and sometimes transform) its consistency. After curing rosin for a week or two, there’s less of a risk that the terpenes will separate or the THC will “crash out” and crystallize. This is especially beneficial if you’re making rosin to sell commercially, since rosin may sit on the shelf for several weeks before it's sold.
Curing rosin also enhances flavor, smoothness, and aroma. Rosin can be used right after it’s extracted, but most extractors agree that a cure is worth the time and minimal effort required.
Curing rosin involves a process referred to as Jar Tech, which is very similar to curing flowers in glass jars. Briskly stirring, or whipping, rosin is a technique that often goes hand in hand with the curing process.
The following articles contain lots of great info to help you cure rosin:
What Are the Benefits of Whipping Rosin?
How To Jar Tech Rosin
Cold Curing vs Warm Curing Rosin
Top 10 Rosin Cold Curing Tips
Top 10 Rosin Warm Curing Tips
Flowers, bubble hash, and rosin kept on hand for extended periods of time should be stored with similar considerations. The goal of storing cannabis is to preserve the highest levels of therapeutic value, including terpene and cannabinoid content, for as long as possible.
Cool temperatures, low humidity, zero airflow, and darkness are all positive factors in storing any form of cannabis. One big risk factor in storing cannabis is oxidation, which happens naturally over time and can’t be prevented. Storing cannabis in sealed glass jars reduces exposure to oxygen and slows down the process of oxidation, which in turn preserves the flavor and efficacy of the product over time.
Flowers, bubble hash, and rosin can also be frozen for long-term storage, although freezer burn on flowers is often a concern. Vacuum-sealing the container first will help prevent freezer burn. Any time cannabis is frozen in a glass jar, allow the jar to come to room temperature again before opening the lid to minimize condensation inside the jar. Then wipe the inside edges of the jar with a clean cloth to soak up any moisture which appears, to prevent it from dripping down into the product.
Read more about storage techniques and best practices in How To Properly Store Rosin and Best Ways To Store Cannabis Material for Extraction.
The concept of aging cannabis is unique to bubble hash. While flowers, hash, and rosin can all be kept on-hand for extended periods of time, bubble hash is special in that it has the potential to improve over the course of several months and years. Storing cannabis flowers is all about playing defense against degradation. Aging bubble hash is about playing offense, and actually using the passage of time to enhance the product. However, certain preparations must be made to properly age bubble hash.
To age bubble hash, first it needs to be rolled into a form known as a Temple Ball, which creates a hard, protective enamel on the outside to protect and preserve the trichomes at the center of the ball. This outer, protective shell of the Temple Ball creates an environment for the resin inside to increase in quality over time. Similar to wine or cheese, improvements and enhancements in hash that’s been aged in the right environment can be truly impressive.
To learn more about aging bubble hash, check out What Is the Purpose of Aging Bubble Hash? and What Is a Bubble Hash Temple Ball?
Drying, curing, storing, and aging have distinct sets of goals that prepare, protect, preserve, or enhance cannabis post-harvest. How cannabis is treated after it’s chopped down is as critical to overall quality as how it’s treated during the growth cycle. The best qualities of premium cannabis will be lost if there’s negligence in its preparation and preservation after harvest. Growing the highest quality cannabis is only one part of the process in delivering the highest quality medicine to consumers.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long should you dry cannabis flowers?
Cannabis flowers usually take about 10-14 days to finish drying in the proper environment. Learn more in our article Best Environment for Hang Drying Cannabis Flowers.
How long should you cure cannabis flowers?
Cannabis should be cured for a minimum of 2-3 weeks.
What is the best way to dry bubble hash?
Bubble hash can be air dried after microplaning or sieving over parchment paper-lined cardboard, or dried in a freeze dryer. Learn more about drying bubble hash in our article Best Ways To Dry Bubble Hash.
Do you have to cure rosin?
Rosin can be consumed immediately after extraction, but it's best for flavor and smoothness to cure it. You can use warm curing or cold curing methods. Learn more about curing rosin in Cold Curing vs Warm Curing Rosin.
What is the best way to store cannabis?
For long-term storage, it's best to keep cannabis in a vacuum-sealed container in a cool, dark, dry place.
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