By Rick Pfrommer, Director of Education, Harborside Health Center
Caring, healing and innovation are integral parts of Harborside's wellness-oriented approach to medical cannabis. This issue I'll discuss how properly curing cannabis demonstrates caring for our patients. Properly cured flowers, even with all we see every day in the purchasing department, represent a small fraction of the total. A tiny percentage is truly well-cured -- dried well, yes, but that's where most cultivators stop.
From the time a stem is cut from the plant, it takes 7-12 days, depending on the density, for it to dry. This is under optimal conditions: 70 degrees and 50-55% humidity, with constantly circulating air. Now it's ready to smoke, right? Well, that depends on what you want from your medicine. Yes, plant material will combust and burn at this point. However, there's still a substantial amount of chlorophyll present in the leaves. This is easily observed by the electric green color of the flowers at this stage. If dried too quickly, let's say 3-4 days under higher heat, the chlorophyll actually gets locked in forever. The process of curing begins at the point where the stem snaps, or almost snaps, but before the entire bud is too dry. This is where the mastery begins. Make no mistake: finishing cannabis correctly takes great artistic skill! Many experienced growers are mediocre at curing. Our in-house expert on this subject is Jeremy Ramsay, our clones department manager. In his opinion it takes an additional 3-6 weeks past when a sample is dry, for it to be properly cured.
There are a multitude of different methods of curing, all with their proponents: glass jars, five-gallon buckets, plastic-lined cardboard boxes. Most connoisseurs tend to view glass jar curing as the best method. This is obviously problematic for larger indoor or almost any sun-grown cultivators. Large aquariums have been utilized by some but most will use five-gallon, food-grade buckets. This method can certainly produce well-cured cannabis. It's an art, no matter what method is employed.
Caring, curing, cannabis are all powerful "c" words; just as cut, color, clarity and carats are the benchmarks by which diamonds are measured.
The basic procedures are roughly the same, no matter what vessel is utilized. Dried or almost dried flowers are placed in a container, filling it, but not packed too tightly. It's opened at least a couple of times a day and lightly turned or rolled, allowing any gases that have built up to be released. What one is attempting is the slow conversion of chlorophyll to sugars, which happens under optimal conditions. An almost magical transformation occurs, turning electric green to a rainbow of hues-including a wondrous array of reds, purples, yellows, pinks and blues. The heightened sugar profile also makes for a much smoother and more complex taste.
Almost anyone familiar with cannabis can recount tales of harsh smoke. Quite often this is chlorophyll. One can grow the finest herb in the world and ruin it in a few days with a quick dry. Well-cured cannabis has been one of my goals from the first day HHC opened. For years, I begged, cajoled, and incentivized cultivators to take the extra step of finishing their world-class medicine. Most people were far more concerned with drying and selling their flowers as fast as possible. Recently, however, the amazing Quanta-Cann (see The Harborside Illuminator, vol. 9) might be helping to change this. By being able to test the same flowers at different cure times, we see potency rise as much as 3%. We've seen samples from some of our contractors in the fall that tested at 18% rise to over 20% by January. Not only does it taste better, it's more potent.
Caring, curing, cannabis are all powerful "c" words; just as cut, color, clarity and carats are the benchmarks by which diamonds are measured. Harborside's flowers are truly the diamonds of the industry. Our commitment to excellence in all we offer our patients shows in the time and effort our purchasers and our member-cultivators put into providing patients with the absolute best available. We constantly strive to keep raising the bar. Ask anyone who has tried to vend to HHC, we are a picky lot. But we do it all for the patients, and in the end, for the plant itself.