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Adding Flavour to Cannabis

It’s a question that gets asked from time to time: is it possible to add flavour to cannabis after harvest time? Flavour is one of the most appealing things about some strains of cannabis. From the mind-blowing fruity punch of Strawberry Cough or Larry Lemon OG to the creamy, dreamy flavours of Cream & Cheese the taste experience is an essential component of cannabis for most of us.

But what do you do when your weed comes up short in the flavour department? The good news is there are options, and if you’re willing to take a few careful steps, you can potentially enhance the taste of your buds.

What Gives Cannabis its Taste

The chief culprits in providing the cannabis plant with its flavour are terpenes – a large and diverse class of organic compounds found in many plants, including conifers and mint. In cannabis, terpenes such as myrcene are responsible for the skunky aroma, whereas citrus-dominant strains will have limonene (lemon) or valencene (orange) as their primary terpene.

Beta-caryophyllene has a spicy-peppery smell, and linalool is a more floral expression. These, along with over 150 other terpenes, are found in small amounts in cannabis and work together to define your favourite tasty strains’ smell and taste characteristics.

Why your Weed Tastes Weird

If you’ve ever delved into a bag of your favourite cannabis and been dismayed to find it tastes underwhelming, there are several reasons why this could have happened. A series of factors during cannabis growth and harvest play a part in determining just how flavourful the plant ends up.

Any mistakes made by growers could result in the end product being disappointingly bland. While specialist cannabis cultivation techniques such as LST (Low-Stress Training) can maximise taste, improper flushing, an insufficient curing process, or using the wrong nutrients/fertiliser/soil can all leave cannabis with a diminished flavour profile.

If growing your own cannabis, it’s important to know how to correctly execute each stage of the process to maximise the flavour. Lastly, if your cannabis is wet or, more worrying, mouldy, this will considerably impact the taste. Examine your nugs to make sure they’re healthy, and if you see signs of mould, discard them immediately. If your weed is healthy, chances are the lack of flavour either comes from mistakes made by the cultivator, or you simply have a strain that lacks kick – some strains just aren’t that tasty, even if grown perfectly.

How to Add Flavour to your Cannabis

You can employ a few different tactics to bolster the taste profile of an uninspiring strain – some are more effective than others – but the key here is moderation with any tactic. It’s best to take a small quantity of your weed and run a test – you don’t want to sacrifice your entire stash and run it through a flavour-enhancing process only to find you don’t like the result and all your cannabis is tainted! Like any experiment, start with a little and see how it goes.

Flavour Weed with Essential Oils or Food Flavourings

Essential oils are great because they’re aromatic and available with any number of scents, including lemon, mint, strawberry and a load of other pleasant options – but make sure they are pure plant extract and make absolutely sure they’re fit for human consumption. The way to use these to level up the taste of your cannabis is to dip a cotton ball in the essential oil.

Ensure it’s not entirely soaking wet and not dripping, then attach it to the lid of your stash jar without it touching your dry buds or the sides of the jar. Again, if trying this, it’s best to experiment with a small amount because you may not like the result, but more importantly, adding moisture to your jar will increase your chances of mould. To reduce those chances, make sure you check your jar regularly and air it out occasionally. You can try using food-grade flavourings from the grocery store, such as vanilla extract or mint extract, to flavour weed in the same manner.

Enhance Cannabis Flavours with Citrus Peels

Sure to be a popular choice with fans of fruity cannabis strains, adding a little bit of citrus peel to your jar may bolster the flavour of your weed. Orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit are all suitable for adding zing to your cannabis buds. This method also has the potential to breed mould if not executed carefully, so resist the urge to simply open your stash and toss in a handful of fresh orange peels (shout out to an old college friend of mine who did exactly this, only to return three weeks later to find a ruined ounce). 

The safest way to enhance the taste of your weed with fruit peels is to begin by dehydrating them, and the easiest way to do that is to spread them out on some foil or parchment on a baking tray, then give them 15-20 minutes on a low to medium heat in an oven. You want to dry them, not thoroughly bake them, so a heat setting of around 150 degrees C should do. Remove the peels from the oven, cut them into small strips, and wrap them up tightly in cheesecloth or a similar fabric. Attach your bag of peels to your jar lid, making sure it doesn’t touch the cannabis buds or the jar sides and check in every couple of days to change the airflow to the buds for a short time, looking for any signs of trouble as you go. If you do this for a week or so, you should begin to notice a slight change in the aroma in the jar – but if you’re going any longer, discard your peels and add new ones every 7-10 days.

Things to Consider 

  • While these methods will have varying degrees of success, there’s no guarantee they will have the effect you’re looking for, so proceed with caution and be sure to experiment with just a small amount of your cannabis.
  • Test the oil before putting it anywhere near your buds if trying the essential oil method. Dab a tiny amount on your finger and taste it – if it’s too perfumed, has a chemical scent or burns in any way, don’t use it!
  • Don’t put anything directly on your cannabis to flavour it, as you significantly increase the risk of spoiled weed.
  • Regularly check to see if it’s working and inspect for any signs of mould. Remove the lid and give it some time to air. Do NOT throw your flavouring in there and leave it to work its magic, unchecked for a month.
  • If you have any means of controlling the humidity level inside the jar, use it to your advantage here.
  • Different strains will respond in different ways. This may work with some strains but not others – some weed tastes like weed, and that’s how it’s meant to be.

Finally, temper your expectations – these methods can successfully flavour weed, but if you find the taste of your weed is universally changed, you’ve probably overdone it. A minor enhancement is the best you can realistically expect, and nothing compares to the natural flavours of marijuana plants that have been patiently grown, flushed, dried and cured.

Cultivation information, and media is given for those of our clients who live in countries where cannabis cultivation is decriminalised or legal, or to those that operate within a licensed model. We encourage all readers to be aware of their local laws and to ensure they do not break them.

Duncan Mathers