Your buds are finally ready for harvest after tending to your plants for the last eight to twelve weeks. Most growers step back for a minute to admire their handy work before they start cutting. While you’re standing there taking in the sea of green, you’ll begin to realize that the task is far from over.
Before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, you’ll need to harvest, trim, dry, and cure your buds. The proper drying and curing of your crop can take as much time as drying it. It’s tempting to give in and try a sample before the crop reaches full cure. However, doing this is a disservice to your work and your plants.
Properly dried and cured weed offers you the best smoking or vaping experience. Curing is a process where you pack dry buds into jars, leaving them for a few months to develop their characteristic flavor and aroma. During the curing phase, the trichomes mature, increasing the potency of the buds.
If you’re wondering what type of jars work best for curing and storing cannabis safely so that it won’t degrade check out our best stash jars roundup, which yes, includes large volume jars for bulk curing as well!
Before you dry and cure your crop, you’ll notice that it smells “green.” This smell improves with curing, eliminating the chlorophyll from the plant that causes this green smell effect. Chlorophyll also causes that hangover headache and tired feeling you get when smoking or vaping uncured or under-cured nugs.
This post looks at everything you need to know about curing your cannabis to perfection.
What Is Curing and Why Do I Need It for My Cannabis?
Curing is the final stage of your cannabis growth lifecycle. You’ll go through the entire process of vegging and flowering your plants and then harvesting and drying the cannabis before you hit the curing phase.
Curing is a critical component of finishing your grow. Without curing, your bud won’t have the right potency, flavor, and aroma when you roll it up or slap it in the bong. Under-cured bud tastes green, and you don’t get the full terpene profile. This process is critical in determining whether the final product up for sale is high quality or mid/low shelf quality.
During the curing phase, the trichome crystals on your plant dry and “cure.” This process substantially increases the potency of the buds. Smoking under-cured bud is a waste of your crop, and you’re missing out on the full experience by blazing it too early.
Curing allows the terpenes’ flavors to mature while bleeding out the last of the chlorophyll in the nugs. As a result, you get the full flavor and aroma of the plant as the breeder intended.
Smoking under-cured bud also results in harsher smoke or vapor, causing scratching in your throat and that heavy feeling in your lungs, which initiates a coughing spree. Properly cured bud feels smooth as silk when smoking or vaping.
What Are the Benefits of Curing Cannabis?
What are the benefits of properly curing your buds? After all, putting it in glass for a few months sounds like over-the-top behavior. Why can’t you smoke or vape your crop any sooner? Here are the top benefits of curing your buds before you light them up with your favorite lighter.
- Curing breaks down chlorophyll, reduces the harshness of the bud while improving flavor and aroma.
- Curing eliminates that “green” smell and taste in the weed.
- Curing matures the trichomes and terpenes in the buds, improving flavor quality and aroma.
- Curing also reduces the bad effects of smoking or vaping, such as paranoia and anxiety.
- Curing allows for long-term storage of your bud without the risk of molding the crop.
- Curing improves the potency of your weed.
During the slow curing phase of your crop, the buds undergo changes. The terpenes and trichomes mature, and it actually increases the potency of your weed. If you take a fresh nug after harvest and speed dry it in the oven, you’ll notice that it’s not that strong, and you get the heavy “green-grass” flavor.
By curing your buds, they get the time they need to change the composition of the terpenoids and cannabinoids. As a result, you get the best smoking or vaping experience from your crop.
How Can You Judge Good Curing from Bad Curing of Cannabis?
There’s an easy way to tell if the bud you’re smoking has a proper cure. First, you’ll notice that the bud is crispy but not overly dry. When you’re smoking or vaping, you’ll get a full range of flavors and aromas from the nug.
However, the biggest giveaway for proper curing – is the ash. If you’re smoking a joint, the ash should appear light grey. IF the ash is a dark color like black or grey-black, it’s a sign of incorrect curing. The ash should also break apart easier instead of clumping together.
What are the Methods for Curing Cannabis?
There are four approved methods for curing cannabis; let’s dive into the specifics of each and make our recommendation for the best curing method.
The Water – Cure Method
Using this method, you submerge the harvest in water for a week. The water removes all the chlorophyll and unwanted plant debris.
The Freeze – Dry Cure Method
Cannabis lyophilization (freezing) involves freezing the buds before drying them, sort of like the same method you get with freeze-dried foods.
The Sweat Cure Method
This method involves curing cannabis at high humidity levels. While it supposedly matures the trichomes, it also introduces the chance for bud-rot and mold growth during curing.
The Dry Cure Method
It’s our preferred method for drying cannabis and the traditional route for most growers. This method involves dry-curing under controlled temperature conditions for the best results.
What Do I Need to Cure My Cannabis?
- 1-Qt. Wide-mouth mason jars (32oz).
- Drying rack or hangers, and a space to dry.
- Hygrometer – for measuring humidity inside the curing jar.
- Boveda Humidipaks (62%)
How Do I Start with Curing My Cannabis?
After harvesting your crop, you’ll trim back the leaves as much as possible. Leaving the leaves on is fine, but it makes it harder to clean after drying, and there’s a chance it attracts mold to your plants.
The optimal drying environment for your crop is around 70°F, with 50% humidity. A drying rack is the best choice, allowing airflow to all buds’ sides without the need to turn them every few days.
Some growers use paper bags for the same drying effect, but we find that it increases the chances of mold developing during the drying stage.
You’ll know your buds are dry and ready for curing when the branches snap between your fingers without causing strings to run along the stems. You’ll hear a satisfying snap as you press the branch between your fingers.
Typically, this phase can take anywhere from three to fourteen days, depending on your area’s weather conditions. If it’s cold and raining outside, expect a two-week drying time. If it’s warm and sunny, you should have a dry crop in under a week.
The Dry Cure Method for Cannabis – Step-by-Step
Are you excited to cure your crop? In a few weeks from now, you’ll be testing out the fruits of your labor. Dry curing cannabis involves the following steps.
Step 1 – Final Trim and Placement in Jars
Trim the buds one last time before putting them in your mason jars and sealing the top. The jar should have an average relative humidity of between 60% to 65%. Anything over 65% causes problems with curing and drying.
Step 2 – Air Out the Jars
We recommend airing out your jars every other day to inspect the buds for mold during the first week. If you pace even slightly wet buds in the jars, the moisture will increase the RH in the jar, turning your weed soggy or spongy.
This situation also invites mold to start growing. Airing out the jars releases any built-up humidity. If the buds are still slightly wet, store them without the lid on the jar for a few days until they turn crispy, then seal the jar.
Placing a hygrometer inside the jar allows you to keep on the RH at a glance, avoiding the need to open the jar.
What are the Common Issues to Avoid When Curing Cannabis?
Here are a few common problems growers encounter when curing their crops. Avoid making these mistakes.
Your Buds Still Feel Wet
Make sure no moist buds touch each other, as this causes bud rot in your crop. If you open your jar and the buds feel damp, take them out and spread them on parchment to dry for a few hours. When they feel dry, return them to the jar and leave the lid off overnight. Check on the jar in the morning, and seal it if the buds feel dry.
Your Bud Feels to Dry
If you have the bud in the jar for a week, and it feels too crisp and crumbles between your fingers easily, it’s too dry. Yes, there’s such a thing as having bud that’s too dry. To combat this effect, you’ll need to have to increase the RH inside the jar. You can achieve this by using Boveda packs (more on them in a minute).
Failing to Check on the Jar
As mentioned, many growers seal their jars and come back to a jar of molded goodness a few weeks later. It’s vital that you check n the status of your crop in the first week or two of curing.
Tips & Tricks for Curing Cannabis FAQ
There’s more to curing cannabis the right way than you think. It’s not as simple as tossing it on a hanger in your tent and smoking it when it’s dry.
If this is your first time curing your crop, follow these tips to optimize your curing success.
What do I do if my buds are too wet?
If your buds aren’t drying fast enough, it’s probably due to wet and humid conditions in your local climate. Overcast weather with low temperatures slows down the drying phase, even if you live in an insulated home.
To resolve the issue, buy yourself a space heater and humidifier. Use your hygrometer to set up the space heater and the humidifier to the correct drying temperature of around 70F with 55% relative humidity in the room.
What do I do if my buds are too dry?
If your buds are too dry and crumbling between your fingers, you’ll need to introduce moisture to the jar to improve the RH. Old school methods involve adding orange and lemon peels to the jar. As the peel dries out, it releases moisture into the jar, saturated the cannabis.
Fortunately, there’s an innovation to stop your bud from drying out to a crispy, crumbly mess. Boveda, 62% Humidipaks, is the ideal replacement for that piece of orange peel. These packs bleed a specific humidity out into the jar, helping you maintain the perfect curing conditions.
However, it’s important to note that you need the 62%. Avoid using the 70% pack. The 70% packs feature design for use with cigars. Unfortunately, they add too much relative humidity to the jar during the curing phase. Even if you place dry bud in the jar with a Boveda 70% Humidipaks, it results in the bud turning spongy, ruining the cure.
What do I do if my buds get moldy?
If your buds get moldy, you’ll likely have to throw them away. You can’t use moldy buds for making extracts either. Your last-ditch attempt at saving your crop might involve a “hydrogen-peroxide” wash.
Using this method, you add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to a 5-gallon bucket filled with distilled water.
You’ll dip the buds in the water until the mold washes away.
After cleaning, you’ll hang the buds out to dry and complete the drying and curing phase as normal.
How long does it take to cure my weed?
The initial cure takes around three to four weeks. Your bud will have intensified its flavor, aroma, and potency during this phase, and its find to smoke or vape. If you want the best results, cure times of between six to eight weeks provide you with the best results.
How do I store my crop for the long-term? (3 to 6-months storage)
Mason jars are fine for storing buds for up to six months. Make sure you keep the jar in a cool, dark, dry place.
Do I need to freeze my harvest after curing?
If you’re planning on storing bud for longer than 6-months, we recommend freezing it in air-tight Ziploc bags.