Base oil infusions for cooking with cannabis

By John MacNeil, Zenabis Corporate Red Seal Chef

Making cannabis infusions for edibles

Cooking with cannabis can be fun and easy when you have a pantry full of cannabis infusions ready to be put into action*. This is especially true when different recipes call for different types of fats, oils, and sugars in many varying forms.

During the initial few times you will likely either undercook it or overcook it, but with patience and practice you can achieve a great experience when cooking with cannabis. Here are a few of the base techniques that I use in my recipes as well a few tips to make your cannabis oil infusions the tastiest.

Base technique for infusing oils with Cannabis

The first step of cannabis infusions is to grind the buds

Begin by grinding your cannabis in a clean, handheld grinder. I like to keep the teeth on my grinder free from buildup of plant material and trichomes (the resin glands of the cannabis plant, also known as kief). The sharper teeth will cut the cannabis easier, allowing the oil to flow through the cuts and giving the finished infusion a nice, clean, and smooth taste.

In order to activate the cannabis compounds and properly infuse your base oil, you will have to heat the ground cannabis in the oven for around 30-45 minutes, at a temperature of 200-220° F (93-104° C). This process is known as decarboxylation.

Next, mix the decarboxylated cannabis into the oil of your choice and place in your cooking vessel to be slowly simmered for 6-8 hours, gently stirring every 20 minutes or so. As the cannabis caramelizes, the aromas could become more intense leading up to the end of the infusion. For that reason, I like to prepare my infusions using a well-ventilated hood fan. If you don’t have a hood fan set up, using a small fan and ensuring proper air flow in and around your kitchen workspace can help.

Before infusing the oils, you will have to decarboxylate your cannabis

Strain the oil through a strainer; I like to use a small metal mesh sieve. These can be rinsed thoroughly, dried, and used again. Place the strained oil into a holding container and clearly label it with strain name, percentage of THC, date prepared, and an indication that this product contains THC. Store in a safe, cool, and dry area.

A base practice formula could look something like this:

How to infuse different oils with cannabis

3.5g decarboxylated cannabis*
100ml oil**

3.5g dry ground cannabis x 1000mg = 3500mg*
3500mg x 0.10% THCA x 0.88mm x 0.50-0.80% (extraction can vary between cannabis strains, for this formula I used an extraction of 75% giving me 231mg THC*)
1ml = 2.31mg

Example recipe calls for 50ml infused oil = 115.5mg / 12 cookies = 9.6mg each*

**The most popular types of oils to infuse are coconut oil, butter, and olive oil.

Infusing coconut oil with cannabis

Coconut oil comes in a few different styles and densities.

  • Organic cold pressed: stronger coconut aroma and flavour, usually pure white in colour and solid at room temperature.
  • Refined: no or little coconut aroma and might not be as pure white as organic. It can still be solid but may not be as firm at room temperature.
  • Liquid oil: clear white oil with a sweet coconut smell.

Pick the oil that best suits your recipe. I like to use organic coconut oil in my infused cannabis brownies.

To make this cannabis infusion you will need:

3.5g decarboxylated cannabis*
100g coconut oil
0.5g sunflower lecithin

Infusing butter with cannabis

I actually love butter. I fell in love with it while I was working as a young chef in Switzerland and France. Grass fed dairy cows produce wonderful milk and cream that is then made into butter. You can find some European style butters in your local market, but it is worth searching out a specialty store that carries imported butters.

For a butter and cannabis infusion you will need:

3.5g decarboxylated cannabis*
454g butter
0.5g sunflower lecithin

See base technique to finish the preparation.

Side note on butter: After heat is applied the butter will separate over the course of a few hours and start to become clarified. To separate the oil from the milk solids, place the infusion vessel in the fridge overnight. The next day the fat will be easily removed; if there is liquid left in the bottom of the vessel, this buttermilk can be used for savoury applications like cheddar and dill tea biscuits.

Infusing olive oil with cannabis

 

My favourite is Arbequina olive oil from the region of Catalonia, Spain. These olives have colourful shades of purple, green, and silver and a high concentration of oil. The flavour is well balanced with fruity notes that can pair wonderfully with CBD strains, but can also stand up to a strong hybrid indica strain.

To make cannabis infused olive oil you will need:

2.5 g decarboxylated cannabis high in limonene*
1 lemon zested
100ml Arbequina Olive oil
0.5 g sunflower lecithin

See base technique to finish the preparation.

Terpene profile and species combine to create unique flavours in infused oils

Infusing glycerin with cannabis

Glycerin is commonly used in the food industry as a sweetener, but it can also be used to infuse cannabis in a syrup. I would first add decarboxylated cannabis to a small amount of glycerin then add it to a syrup for later use. Glycerin is quite sweet so it’s best to use sparingly.

To make cannabis infused glycerin you will need:

2.5g decarboxylated cannabis*
50ml glycerin

See base technique to finish preparation.

Optional herbs and spices can be added to your infusions to enhance the terpene profile in your strain. A few favorites of mine are rosemary, citrus zest, black pepper, chili flakes, ginger, and sage.

For those who simply don’t have the time (or energy) to make their own infused oils, there are many cannabis oils available for purchase on the market today. These products offer an easy-to-use alternative to homemade infusions that make cooking with cannabis easier than ever.

*Cannabis doses vary based on personal preference. This dose is not a recommendation on behalf of Zenabis. For more information on dosing, remember to “start low and go slow” and reference Health Canada for Guidance.