Monday August 12, 2019

By Abby Hutmacher


Anything worth having is worth waiting for. A smooth, flavorful, cannabis smoke sesh is a great example of that. In fact, a slow and steady curing process is often the difference between a simple sack of weed and some premium kind bud. But how long should cannabis be cured after harvest to provide the perfect smoke? To answer this question, we have to dive a little deeper into the fundamentals of curing marijuana.

Why Wait to Cure Your Cannabis?

Curing cannabis is a slow, controlled drying process that allows excess moisture and other harsh compounds to escape the plant without compromising the integrity of important compounds like terpenes and cannabinoids. Properly cured cannabis is more potent and flavorful, and easier on the lungs thanks to the slow release of unnecessary sugars and starches.

up close weed
Properly cured cannabis bud is more potent, flavorful, and has a longer shelf life.

To be sure, curing cannabis does not mean just drying it out. Simply hanging weed out to dry without properly curing it afterwards can cause the buds to dry unevenly, trapping harsh chlorophyll and ceasing cannabinoid production. Indeed, the very best weed is always tended to well after harvest with a careful trim and a slow, steady cure. When properly cured, cannabis buds are not only more potent and flavorful, but they also have a longer shelf life. That’s because curing cannabis removes moisture and bacteria that may cause the cannabis to spoil or develop mold. In fact, well-cured cannabis is safe for consumption for up to six months or more. Weed that has not been sufficiently cured can develop mold in as little as a few days. Once buds show signs of mold or mildew (usually noticeable by the scent), they must be tossed lest they cause health problems. 

When discussing curing, it’s important to note that not all cannabis strains are created equal, nor are the environments in which they grow. Factors such as these can alter standard cure times and must be accounted for when determining time to market (or time to smoke for personal grows). For example, an average cure time could only take a few weeks, it could take a few months, or it could anywhere in between. Furthermore, the only one who gets to decide how long a cure will take is the bud itself, not the facilities eager to turn a profit.

Cannabis Curing Best Practices

There are many variables that determine how long a cannabis cure will take – the density of the bud, the humidity of its curing environment, the steps taken in the curing process – so there is no definitive answer to the question “how long should a proper cannabis cure take?” In fact, the curing process could take anywhere from three or four weeks to three or four months. Though buds are “smokable” after a short two-week cure, holding off for at least a few more weeks is totally worth it.

To learn more about the cannabis curing process including the history of curing and step-by-step instructions for curing cannabis like a pro, check out this article.

Essentially, when curing cannabis, the longer, the better. That’s because the curing process helps bring out the flavors, scents, and cannabinoid profiles of the flower. Essentially, the longer the buds cure in their controlled environments, the better quality they will be. When in doubt, give it another week at least. It’s also important to only cure cannabis that is sufficiently dried. Attempting to cure wet cannabis can cause mildew. If the stems snap instead of bending, they are ready to cure. If not, don’t try it.

How to Tell If Your Weed Has Been Properly Cured

Cannabis legalization has brought about an array of premium cannabis products, but it has also inspired “quantity over quality” mentality among many marijuana distributors. Companies eager to turn a profit may rush the curing process or use sub-par production. Though most dispensaries will swear up-and-down that their bud is the best bud, it is up to you, the consumer, to decide for yourself.

hanging weed
Some dispensaries cut corners in the curing process which is not only unpalatable, but dangerous.

One great way to tell if cannabis is cured correctly is by its texture. Quality cannabis should be sticky and spongy and should break apart easily without crumbling. Buds that feel wet or those that need to be pulled apart likely contain too much moisture suggesting that the flowers were not sufficiently cured before hitting the shelves. Conversely, bud that crumbles between your fingers is too dry and likely the remnants of last season’s stash. If your budtender shows you weed like this, don’t buy it.

Additionally, cannabis should have a pleasant scent. Good weed is often fruity or floral (and largely determined by its terpene profile), whereas bunk weed may smell like musk or mildew (an indication that it is too wet) or else it may smell like hay (indicating it is too dry). Buds like these can cause excessive abrasion along the airways due to trapped chlorophyll, residual nutrients, or mold spores. Next, take a look at the bud’s color. Deep greens could mean that excess chlorophyll is still present in the flowers while brown buds could mean they were over dried or dried out too quickly. Instead, premium cannabis should be bright green and feature many various color hues including reds, purples, oranges and blues.

Key Takeaways

They always say not to rush a good thing. Turns out, “they” were totally right. Rushing the cannabis curing process can drop the quality of cannabis to a harsh, flavorless level. In fact, improper curing is not only unpalatable, but it can be downright dangerous considering the risk of mildew and other unhealthy components.

If you grow and harvest your own marijuana, always cure your cannabis properly before smoking it. If you purchase from a dispensary or other source, though, you’ll have to do a little detective work to determine if your bud was cured properly or not. But once you learn how to distinguish quality buds from those that are rushed out the door, you’ll set yourself up for a premium cannabis experience every time. 

Do you have any tips to determine if buds are properly cured? We’d love to hear them. 

Abby Hutmacher Abby Hutmacher

Abby is a writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace designed to connect cannabis writers and creatives with businesses in the industry. She has been a professional cannabis writer since 2014 and regularly contributes to publications such as PotGuide and M&F Talent. She is also the Content Director at Fortuna Hemp, America’s leading feminized hemp seed bank. Follow Abby on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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