How to Dry and Cure Cannabis and Get the Best Nugs

Soft Secrets
30 Sep 2020

Giving the final touch of your grow and harvest work is as essential as any other step in cultivating your home marijuana.

After months of dedicated and hard work cultivating cannabis plants, beginner growers feel anxious and impatient for the time to come to harvest a lush crop of fragrant buds. However, every seasoned cannabis grower knows that the growing process does not stop at harvest time by any means. While many would be tempted to dry the freshly harvested buds as soon as possible, curing is a paramount process which involves removing moisture from your buds in a controlled environment. Curing and drying your freshly harvested weed stash are crucial steps in preventing mold contamination as well as ensuring high-quality buds with better taste and intense potency. 

The difference between drying and curing

While drying means reducing water from fresh buds up to 15% so they can be smoked or vaporized, curing involves storing buds in closed containers for a certain period of time.

Benefits of curing and drying cannabis

Curing is maybe a wee longer process, but it comes with a myriad of benefits for your buds, including the aroma, taste, and overall quality.

Curing enhances the potency of the buds.

Keeping the freshly harvested buds in temperature between 60 and 70°F with a humidity level between 45-55% leads to a biosynthesis process, which converts non-psychoactive cannabinoids into a psychoactive compound known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid THCA, the precursor of THC. The longer the buds are cured, the more non-psychoactive compounds turn into psychoactive, resulting in highly potent weed. how to dry and cure cannabis

Curing improves the flavor of the buds.

Freshly harvested buds contain sugars and starches that eventually lure in airborne bacteria and enzymes. Excess sugars and minerals can contribute to a harsh, throat-burning sensation from smoking improperly cured weed. Therefore, curing is essential to degrade the nutrients and bolsters the flavor of the final product. So instead of harsh, flavorless buds, you can get a strong, smooth final smoke.

Curing improves the smell of the buds.

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis that give the plant its unique earthy or citrusy aroma. However, due to terpenes’ volatile nature, they tend to degrade once the cannabis harvest begins. Storing and curing your freshly harvested buds will help in preserving the aromatic oils and the unique smell.

Curing preserves cannabis.

Curing allows you to store your cannabis plants for long periods without worrying about mold or potency loss. Properly-cured buds can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to two years without significant potency loss.

How to dry and cure your cannabis?

There are various ways to cure cannabis buds, but we are going to focus on the easiest and surest way to get top results from your harvest.

Curing begins as soon as you cut down the cannabis plant.

To get the most from curing, first, you’d need to learn how to dry the buds, which is a fundamental process during the first couple of days. This process is commonly known as the initial drying phase, and the goal here is to let the buds dry out slowly (usually 3-7 days) while protecting them against bacteria growth and mold.

Initial cannabis drying

The most common way to complete this step is cutting 12-16” branches from the cannabis plants, trim excess leaves, and then hang the branches from string or wire. While some cannabis growers prefer cutting the whole plant and then hanging it, others opt to trim buds from branches and place them on drying racks. Regardless of the method, for this step, you will need a dark room with temperature ranging 60-70°F and humidity between 45-55%, as well as a fan to circulate the air inside.  This step is crucial to preserving the aroma and taste of the harvested bud in the end product, so it’s recommended to have a dehumidifier or A/C unit. You’ll know you are ready for the next step once the flowers feel crunchy on the outside and the branches are fragile. The initial drying can take anywhere from 5 to 15 days to be complete. how to dry and cure cannabis

Curing cannabis 

Once the cannabis buds are mostly dry, it’s time to cure them. Step 1: Trim and separate the buds from the branches. Step 2: Place the manicured buds into an airtight container by your choice. The most commonly used containers are wide-mouth quart-size mason jars, but you can use metal, ceramic, or plastic containers as well. Pack the flowers carefully into the containers, without compacting or crushing the buds. Step 3: Place the sealed containers in a cool, dark, and dry spot to finalize the curing process. If you check the buds within the first day, you’ll notice they are no longer dry and crunchy. If this is not the case, you have over-dried your cannabis. Step 4: In the first week, try to open the containers as much as possible per day to let the flowers “breathe” for a few minutes, which will allow the excess moisture to escape and replenish the oxygen inside. If the buds are giving you a specific scent of ammonia, that means they are not dry enough for curing and they are victim to anaerobic bacteria, which will lead to mold and rot the cannabis.  Step 5: After the first week, you can open the containers once or twice a week. The cannabis will be cured after 2 to 3 weeks sitting in containers, but to maximize the quality, flavor, and potency of your cannabis, 4 to 8 weeks of cure time will improve it even more.  When you are finally done with drying and curing, your nugs are ready for a puff. It’s time to sit on the sofa and perform a ritual degustation to see if your efforts played out well. Perhaps ask Peter, the guy next door, to join you for your smoking session, and if not, the pleasure can always be exclusively yours.
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