Saturday August 1, 2020
By Paul Barach
So, you’ve found yourself with more edibles on hand than you’re looking to consume at the moment. Maybe you baked a big tray of cookies for a party that you had to cancel for some reason. Maybe your favorite brand of gummy just returned to your local dispensary after months of waiting and you wanted to stock up. Maybe you had to use up your extra cannabutter before heading out of the country for a while on a long vacation (one can dream, right?).
Whatever the reason, you have a lot of edibles on hand. This isn’t the worst problem to have, but you want to make sure that they don’t all go bad. That would be a waste of all your time, money, and effort. You can either consume them all once before their expiration date (please, please do not do this) or you can find a way to store them for the long term.
Shelf Life of Cannabis Edibles
The good news is that once THC is extracted into cannabutter, oil, or distillate, the activated molecule will lose only a little potency over time. This means that your brownies, if properly stored, will hit just about as hard after a month or two as when you pulled them out of the oven.
The bad news is that cannabutter, oil, and baked goods can spoil pretty fast once they’re out in the air. Most edibles aren’t made with a lot of preservatives, which in some ways makes them much healthier than other store bought desserts.
However, all the sugar and fats that makes that treat so tasty also means that mold, mildew, bacteria, and other things you want to avoid will grow pretty quickly on your food and start to colonize it. Most sugar-based edibles like hard candy and gummies can stay good in their containers for a long time without any extra storage steps (besides keeping them in a cool, dry place). So instead, let’s focus on baked goods.
How to Store Your Edibles Long-term
While it’s not recommended to store baked goods on your shelves, your edibles will last for a while in the freezer and still remain, well, edible. That is, as long as you follow these helpful tips.
Darkness is Your Ally
While light is a necessary part of every plant’s growth, the moment the buds are separated from the branches and packaged is when that relationship should end. Light can degrade cannabis. The same goes for cannabutter, oil, and distillate. When storing your edibles in the freezer, be sure to place them in an opaque container that keeps the light off of them. This will prevent the THC molecules from breaking apart.
Wrap it Up
If you can, avoid putting your edibles in sandwich baggies or wrapping them with plastic wrap. Not only does the plastic wrap affect the taste, but it can stick to the edibles once frozen and be hard to get off.
Instead, consider using waxed paper for edibles. This comes off much easier and preserves the taste of your pastries while also making sure they don’t stick together.
Keep It As Airtight As Possible
Glass Jars and silicone containers are your best bet for freezing your edibles long-term. Both have the advantage of letting in less air and less moisture than other storage methods. Allowing air and moisture in will affect the potency of your edible, as well as leading it to spoil faster since it feeds bacterias and molds. Additionally, though we don’t often think of it as one, air can actually be a pretty destructive substance that contributes to the breakdown all kinds of substances (like iron), including THC. However, be aware, if you’re storing cannabutter or oil, be sure to leave plenty of room at the top of your jars or containers.
Liquids will expand once they freeze, and the last thing you want to be dealing with is a cracked glass jar
in your freezer. You should also make sure that the product reaches room temperature before putting it in the freezer (for the same reason). If you’re using glass jars to store your edibles, wrap the jars in an opaque bag to stop light from coming in. If you’re using plastic baggies, try to squeeze as much air out of it as possible before freezing your edibles. If you have a vacuum sealer, even better.
Save the Date
Whether THC-infused or not, it’s not worth the risk of finding out that what you ate was expired. Luckily there are two pretty clear signs that your edibles are a no-go before they start rioting in your bowels.
Signs of Spoiled Edibles:
- If there are condensation droplets in the container, that is a sign that some bacterial reactions could be happening.
- If the product feels brittle, dry, or rough, it’s probably gone bad. Your edible should still have a strong smell of weed, and no signs of mildew, mold, or discoloration.
Even wrapped up, airtight, and in the dark, try to consume your cannabutter, oil, or edible within six months of putting it into the deep freeze. Unfortunately, any longer than that and you risk your cannabutter or oil going rancid. Bacteria are always on the move, even in the frozen depths. Candies made with pure sugar like hard candy or gummies will last much longer than that since they don’t have the high fat content that bacteria and mold loves.
As a side note, chocolate will last up to a year in the freezer, but it may develop a sugar bloom, which is a harmless white film caused by condensation.
Be sure to take the type of food your storing into consideration whenever you package edibles in the freezer.
Keep it Separated
If you’re storing cannabutter or oil, a solid tip is to freeze them in ice cube trays rather than as one whole batch, then store them together in a jar or silicone tray. This way you can grab a couple of doses when you need to cook without having to defrost and refreeze the entire batch.
Similarly, if you’re freezing brownies be sure to cut them into smaller portions before wrapping them up for storage. If you’re looking for a smaller dose or trying to ration your supply this is much easier than trying to cut into a frozen pastry.
Follow these simple tips once your baking is done and you’ll be able to enjoy your edibles for up to half a year. Maybe you’ll even be able to pop one pre-boarding before a well-deserved vacation out of this country (once the pandemic is over, of course). Again, one can dream, right?
Have you had any success storing edibles longterm? Share your experiences in the comments!