Once your cannabis plants have been harvested, it is time to begin curing them. This two-step process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on your personal preferences, and results in high-quality medicine that can alleviate a wide range of symptoms, and make you feel better – naturally.
Here’s why it’s important to cure your cannabis after drying:
- Curing reduces the chance of the cannabis buds growing mold. Most moisture is removed from the buds, keeping them the correct texture for use – not too wet, but not too dry. Smoking or otherwise ingesting moldy cannabis can be dangerous.
- Curing can reduce some of the problematic side effects caused by marijuana, including coughing and headaches.
- Some growers find curing seems to increase the potency of the buds, enabling you to use less. It is also thought to lessen anxiety and paranoia.
- Curing greatly improves the taste of cannabis buds. Even – or perhaps especially – if you use cannabis only as medication, a more appealing flavour goes a long way to making treatment tolerable. Much of this taste improvement is due to the breakdown of the plant’s chlorophyll, the original abundance of which gives that raw, “grassy” taste.
Some growers consider the processes of drying and curing to be two separate practices, while others describe drying as the first step of the curing process.
Drying the Marijuana Branches
About to harvest? Hold on a sec.
Before you harvest, make sure you’re ready to start the curing process. The branches or full plants should not be left lying around for more than a couple of hours after they have been cut from the rootball, so if you have plants in half an hour, it’s best to leave the harvest til tomorrow.
Hanging Branches to Dry
The best way to ensure the cannabis buds are properly dried before moving onto the curing step is to hang them upside down. Leaving the buds attached to the branches makes this much easier; hanging the entire plant as one piece, however, can prevent proper air flow and result in uneven drying.
That said, by keeping the buds attached to the branches during this first step of curing, you facilitate a slower drying time, allowing the stems and branches to retain moisture and keep the cannabis from drying out too quickly.
Drying Marijuana on a Rack
If you cannot or do not want to hang your buds on the branches, you can remove each bud and space them out on drying racks. Again, make sure there is space for air to flow easily between the pieces. Because there are no moisture-rich branches, this method results in a shorter drying period.
Early Cannabis Drying Environment
For these first days of the curing process, cannabis benefits from indirect light and warm, dry air. A fan placed in the room can help, but should always be pointed away from the plants. Aim for between three and 10 days of drying in this way. Avoid quick-drying methods such as direct blowing air or microwaving; this can result in negative side effects like headaches, and a bad taste.
Throughout the curing process, be diligent in checking your buds for mold or mildew. If you notice any questionable growths, separate those buds quickly from the rest of the plants to avoid spreading the fungus.
Curing Buds in Jars
Ready for part two?
The cannabis buds can be taken down from hanging when the smaller stems can be snapped, but the thick, main branches are still flexible. The buds will feel dry on the outside, but not brittle. As long as the outside is dry, it is unlikely that mold will develop when curing.
The Importance of Moisture and Humidity in Curing Cannabis
The second step of the curing process encourages moisture remaining in the middle of the buds to slowly make its way to the surface. This allows the buds to maintain a specific humidity level, vital to proper curing.
A humidity level of between 60 and 65% is ideal for curing. As long as you take the buds down from the drying racks early enough, the moisture still within them should self-regulate the humidity once they have been placed in their jars.
Glass jars are the best option for curing. One quart mason jars work well, as do jars with a flip lid and clasp. As long as the interior is air-tight once sealed, your buds should cure nicely.
Readying Buds for Curing
Remove all the buds from the branches and stems. Fill each curing jar between 2/3 and ¾ full – avoid packing in the buds, as this will prevent the air within the jar from circulating evenly, and could cause mold.
Buds too wet?
Once the buds are in the jar, give it a gentle shake. If they all stick together in a clump at the bottom, then they are still to moist for curing, and should be returned to a rack to dry longer.
Buds too dry?
If you are concerned your buds are too dry, you can use “humidipaks” (originally used to keep cigars at the correct moisture level) to re-hydrate them. Avoid these packs unless you feel they are absolutely necessary, however, and only leave them in the curing jar until the humidity has reached the proper level.
A Vital Tool for Curing Cannabis: The Hygrometer
A hygrometer is the only way to tell for certain the humidity level within your curing jars. Small hygrometers can be purchased which fit inside the jar when it is sealed. You don’t need one for every jar – simply leave the meter in one until the correct humidity level is shown, then move it to the next jar.
Check In On Your Buds
For the first week or two, check the curing jars – and mix the buds – every day. This is important to allow fresh air in, and to ensure none of the buds have begun to mold. If all is good after about ten days, begin opening the jars just once a week. The humidity level should remain at about 62%.
After a few weeks of this, you can cut back to opening the curing jars once a month. The buds should continue to feel sticky, but not wet, slightly pliable, but not spongy. Curing will continue to benefit the medical marijuana for up to six months.
Longterm Storage of Cannabis Buds
It is best to let the marijuana buds continue in the curing stage for at least three months, with intermittent checks. If they remain the proper texture, with no issues of mold growth for this time period, they are highly unlikely to degrade in the future, as long as the jars remain properly sealed.
Once the curing process has ended, the buds will be ready to use for treatment, or for storage until needed. The buds can remain in the sealed curing jars, but should be placed in a dark, cool location. If you plan to store them for more than six months, you may want to vacuum seal the jars.
If the storage location is suitable, marijuana buds can remain potent for years. Keep in mind, however, that after a few months the oxygen, which was initially essential for curing the buds, will begin to instead convert THC to CBN. This is not harmful, but the buds will begin to be more calming and sleep-inducing, rather than offering the original euphoric effects.