This is part two of a three-part series on what i find to be best practices for flushing, harvesting and curing.
The Drying Room
A big issue in the trim flower industry is proper curing of all the plant material. Trimmed or untrimmed flowers can go sour if they are not handled correctly. It’s amazing how fast a year’s worth of work can be ruined by not drying and curing properly.
Generally speaking, proper drying occurs over a couple of weeks of temperatures in the 60s and 70s and humidity in 30s and 40s, with enough air flow. These are pretty ideal conditions. Part of what is going on is all those sugars from photosynthesis in the plant will, with sufficient time in the presence of moisture, undergo a chemical change from sugars to starches. If you have ever burned sugar in your kitchen, you would realize this is an important thing. Sugar burns black and acrid, a very unpleasant taste and smell. Starches burn clean.
We hang our plant material on fencing stretched tight so there’s good airflow on all sides at all times. Leave it there undisturbed. I typically check by feeling the sticks, and as long as they are cool to the touch, they are not yet dry. When they snap instead of bend, we start taking the flowers off the sticks.
Store your flowers in turkey bags. If they clump together, then leave the bag open. Leave them for a few hours, and close the bag again. When your flowers no longer clump after a day of the bag being closed, they are almost to the point where you can put them in glass for the final cure. Trim flowers for smoking are typically 6 to 12 percent moisture in the flower by weight. At 12 percent, the product is heavy but not really suitable for smoking. At 6 percent it crumbles easily. Ideally, curing means there is still enough moisture in the flowers for the process of sugars being converted into starches, which happens at a cellular level, while the moisture content is low enough that mold does not grow. We dry our untrimmed material for medicine makers down to 2 to 3 percent moisture. It probably costs us terpenes, but it ensures that it is dry enough for medicine makers. Medicine makers want 1 to 2 percent moisture. In solvent extractions, any moisture messes things up — all the solvents don’t really like moisture.
What happens way too often is people dry things too quickly and then put it away and rehydrate later. This works to prevent mold, but containers must be “burped” frequently. The best cure takes months. And during that time, ideally, your flowers would be stored in glass. For those of you who smoke your flowers as opposed to make them into oil, when you roll your smoke or put it in a pipe, it should taste like the flowers smell. Proper drying and curing preserves the quality of the terpenes, which gives us the sensations of flavor and taste, while ensuring that all surplus sugars have been dealt with. Remember that nutrient flushing is essential, because proper curing does not eliminate surplus nutrients in your plant material.
Whatever the reason that one is working with cannabis, it is essential to the quality of your finish work to observe proper post harvest handling. Respect the plants for the work they have done to create the compounds that are the reasons why we work with these plants.
Attitude of Gratitude, Peace.