Even among the most seasoned cannabis enthusiasts, edibles have a reputation for being a risky proposition, especially for those who usually bought “special brownies” out of someone’s backpack at a concert. These days, precisely dosed, professionally packaged, tasty edibles are available at most dispensaries, but there’s still something to be said about making your own edibles from scratch. It’s rewarding, and it allows you to customize your treats with specific strains and potency levels.

The process takes some time but it isn’t that difficult. The first step is making cannabis-infused butter that can replace regular butter or oil in any recipe. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make the perfect cannabutter (or cannaoil for vegan edible fans):

Step 1: Decarb the weed

To ensure your cannabutter squeezes the most potency out of the fat-infusing process, you’ll need to decarboxylate the flower first. Decarbing uses heat to convert non-intoxicating THCA cannabinoids into the THC we know and love. (This process happens naturally when you smoke or vape.) Preheat your oven to 245 degrees and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, then sprinkle about 7-10 grams of loose flower on the paper. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, mixing the buds every 10 minutes with a gentle shake of the baking sheet.

Step 2: Grind the buds

Grinding up the flower will allow it to infuse more effectively with the fat molecules in butter or oil, so use a hand grinder or coffee grinder to break up the buds into coarse shake. It’s important to avoid over-grinding the buds—smaller particles will slip through the straining process later and create  an unpleasant taste and texture in your edibles.

Step 3: Melt the butter

If you use oil (higher-fat varieties are best, like coconut, avocado or olive), you can skip this step and move to step 4.

You can use any type of butter for cannabutter, although most baked good recipes call for unsalted.  If possible, choose a butter with the highest levels of fat content (11-13 grams per serving). In a medium-sized saucepan or stock pot, add 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of water and set the heat to low until the butter is completely melted.

Step 4: Simmer low and slow

Once the butter is melted, stir in the ground-up cannabis and continue simmering on low for about 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. The ideal temperature should be above 160 degrees but lower than 200 degrees, and you’ll need to be careful to never let the mixture boil.

Step 5: Strain the mixture

To strain the plant material out of the cannabutter mixture, you can use a fine-mesh strainer or a funnel lined with cheesecloth. Set the funnel or strainer over a mixing bowl (or jar, or any other large enough container made of glass, metal or ceramic), and pour the mixture from the saucepan into the strainer or funnel. Let it strain freely without interference—squeezing or pressing on the mixture will allow smaller particles of cannabis to seep through, and the best-tasting butter is smooth and speck-free.

Step 6: Refrigerate the butter

Cooking the butter with water helps to prevent the butter from burning, and while much of the water will evaporate during the simmering process, you don’t want any excess in the final product. The best way to remove it is to refrigerate the mixture so the butter and water separate into two layers. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, then remove the butter layer and place it in a storage container. Keep the cannabutter in the fridge when not using, and before starting your edible recipe, let the butter sit out at room temperature to soften, or melt in a saucepan to liquify again.

Step 7: Choose your dose

The amount of butter or oil used in recipes varies wildly. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes call for a full cup of butter while boxed brownie mix typically uses a half or third cup of oil. You can replace the oil or butter with cannabutter at a 1-to-1 ratio, or you can substitute a smaller amount, such as half regular butter or oil and half cannabutter. Once your treats are baked, it’s very important to try out a small portion and wait an hour or two to feel the results. As the golden rule of edibles goes, “You can always eat more but you can never eat less.”

Bonus: How to make cannabutter in a Crock Pot (slow cooker)

If you don’t have 2-3 hours on hand to watch a pot on the stove, you can also make cannabutter in a Crock Pot. Follow steps 1 and 2 above, then add the ground-up weed to 1 cup of butter and a little water and mix in the Crock Pot. Set the cooker to low and cook for about 3 hours, stirring on occasion. Wait for the butter mixture to cool a bit before straining in Step 5.

Extra bonus: How to make cannabutter stronger

If you have a high tolerance for cannabis and you want your cannabutter to really pack a punch, you can use higher-potency strains or sprinkle some kief into the butter while simmering. It’s generally not the best idea to use more cannabis or less butter because the resulting cannabutter will have a strong cannabis taste—which may not be a flavor you want in your edibles.

Extra double bonus: You can always buy edibles instead

Making homemade edibles is a worthwhile endeavor, but there’s always the possibility of inconsistency—one cookie in a batch might give you a mild buzz while another could knock your socks off. The best way to get consistent taste and results every time is to buy professionally-made, lab-verified edibles from dispensaries. At Balboa Ave. Cooperative, we have a huge variety of edibles, from candies to cookies to beverages. Check out more information about our edibles menu here.