Cannabis enthusiast and student of the art of solventless extraction.
Here at The Press Club, we love using fresh frozen cannabis to wash bubble hash. It’s tough to beat the explosive flavor, unmistakable aroma, and stunning clarity of loose resin that’s collected from cannabis harvested with fresh frozen preparations. Fresh frozen captures the most vibrant and unique qualities of the ripe cannabis flower, preserving terpenes and slowing down the process of oxidation to levels that dried and cured buds can’t match.
While correctly harvesting cannabis for fresh frozen starting material isn’t the only trick to producing phenomenal hash, the preparations made before the actual ice water extraction are key to setting up for success and ultimately producing full melt hash.
Let’s review our 10 tips for harvesting fresh frozen before washing:
1. Harvest Only as Fast as You Can Trim
In other words, harvest your crop in segments, working efficiently to trim the branches you chopped. Leave the rest of the buds on the plant for the time being, so they aren't sitting around at room temperature too long waiting to be processed. Aim to harvest a section of your crop, trim it, bin it, and freeze it quickly. Then harvest the next batch.
It's important to minimize the amount of time that harvested flowers are exposed to the elements and higher temperatures. Get them in the freezer as soon as possible!
2. Buck Flowers Down To Quarter-sized Chunks
Carefully remove the branches from the harvested plants, then buck each flower into quarter-sized pieces. Cut the buds away from the stems at the base, so that each quarter-sized piece is removed from the main stem, as opposed to chopped in half. Remove excess stems, as they are not good to include in the way. Trim leaves covered in trichomes are a great feature, so no need to remove them!
Avoid jostling the flowers around, as it’s easy to bruise or damage trichomes. Try to handle all material at the stem only, instead of gripping the calyxes between your fingers.
3. Don’t Cut Leaves in Half
If you're removing larger leaves that don't contain many trichomes, cut them away at the stem only. Don't cut leaves in half. Cutting leaves in half exposes the veins, which will leak chlorophyll during extraction. Chlorophyll is very difficult to fully remove through the sieving process.
If you can't access the base of a stem with your scissors (i.e. it's buried between calyxes), it's okay to just leave the leaf in place. All large fan leaves should be removed at the stem without any issues. Don't leave bare stems, trim those away too.
4. Remove Only What Doesn't Have Trichomes
Any material that's covered in trichomes is great for hash production! So only remove the fan leaves (and of course the stems) that are not stacked with resin.
5. Buck Down over a Clean Food Grade Bin
When you buck down and trim flowers you undoubtedly drop some trichomes off the material, no matter how careful you are. So it's a good idea to buck and trim over a clean, food-grade surface. That way you can collect these trichomes and use them in the future.
6. Freeze the Cannabis Immediately after Harvest
Terpenes are incredibly volatile, and they’ll begin to evaporate away almost immediately after harvest, impossible to recover or replenish. Freezing cannabis drastically decreases volatility, which means greater terpene preservation. Buck, bin, and move to the freezer as quickly as possible.
Don’t sacrifice cleanliness or delicate handling for speed. Work efficiently but don’t cut corners by moving too quickly.
7. Leave Cannabis in the Freezer for at Least 24 Hours
Allow the flowers to thoroughly freeze for at least 24 hours. A regular freezer is fine, no need for an industrial or commercial freezer (unless you need the space!). Chest freezers work great. The key is to give the material enough time to freeze completely.
8. Label the Bins
Labeling every bin with the name of the cannabis cultivar, weight, and date of harvest that's inside is key to organization and making sure you're creating a consistent product. If you think you can remember which bags are which, you're probably kidding yourself. Easier said than done!
9. Don’t Move the Frozen Material Inside the Freezer
Once you stack the bins inside the freezer, leave them there until you’re ready to pull them out and wash the material. It’s not a good idea to shuffle the stacks of bins around. Rearranging or moving the bins increases the chances that the trichomes will get damaged. Cannabis is very fragile when it’s frozen.
10. Handle the Frozen Material with Care
Don't rest the full buds in your hands, try to handle by the stem only. This will protect the trichomes and keep your material in excellent condition.
This picture is a good example of what not to do! Even if you're super careful, the trichomes will be damaged if you don't handle by stems only.
It’s vital to keep the water as close to freezing as possible when washing fresh frozen material. Super cold water keeps the material frozen during agitation, which helps to minimize chlorophyll contamination via ice nucleation.
Read more about ice nucleation in What Is Ice Nucleation in Fresh Frozen Cannabis?
It’s true that a majority of success depends upon the preparation, and this is especially so for washing fresh frozen cannabis. When to harvest, how to buck and bin the material, and careful handling throughout are all essential to preserve the integrity of the trichomes. Proper techniques upsed for harvesting and processing fresh frozen cannabis also help prevent excessive chlorophyll contamination during ice water extraction.
For more info, check out our article How To Wash Fresh Frozen Cannabis.
What tips would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments!
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How can you tell when is peak ripeness to harvest fresh frozen material?
Harvesting on the earlier side can improve resin clarity, capturing the trichomes before they begin to turn amber. However, harvest too early and it’s easy to miss out on the maximum therapeutic potential of the resin. Experiment with your cultivars and see what works best for you.
What does it mean to buck cannabis for fresh frozen preparation?
Bucking is the process of removing the chunks of bud from the stems and cutting off the big leaves that are not covered in trichomes.
How small should you buck the pieces of cannabis for fresh frozen?
Buck the flowers down into pieces the size of a USA quarter coin. Be careful to cut only at the stems, not across the leaves or calyxes.
What type of freezer do you need for fresh frozen?
A regular residential kitchen freezer is fine, or a chest freezer works great too. You only need commercial freezers if you need space to store a lot of material.
How should you label bags of fresh frozen material?
Don't use a marker on the outside of the bag, it will easily smear off. Write the strain on a piece of paper and put it into the bag before vacuum sealing.