At harvest time, it’s critical to properly dry, cure and store your cannabis to make the most of your months of hard work. Taking the time and patience to fully dry and cure will increase potency, enhance the flavor and make for a smoother smoke. When it comes to skipping steps or rushing the process, the worst-case scenario is losing your entire harvest to mold and mildew.
- Harvest your plants. How you do it is up to you. Some people cut the base of the plant and hang the entire thing upside down, others trim branches or buds and set them out to dry. You can stagger your harvest, trimming from the top down, giving the buds on the bottom another few days or a week to reach peak potency.
- Trim extra leaves. Many cultivators will trim excess leaves to improve the bud’s appearance and reduce plant matter that can create harshness when smoked. Trimming also speeds up the drying process and helps prevent mold. It’s more important to trim away excess leaves in humid environments than in dry. In very arid regions, leaving the leaves on can help prevent buds from drying out too fast.
- Begin the drying process. Laundry drying racks are great for cannabis branches, making sure each bud has good air circulation and space around it. You can clip them upside-down to hangers, spread them on a screen or whatever allows for good air-flow. The best drying conditions include low light, a steady room temperature of around 70°f degrees and moderate humidity. If you live in a high humidity region, a dehumidifier in your drying area can help prevent mold outbreaks.
- Check regularly. You’ll need to check on your buds frequently to make sure they’re drying evenly and not getting moldy. You don’t want to over-dry them either! You’ll know it’s time to move to the next step when the small stems become brittle and snap off easily. If there’s any bendiness or difficultly, there’s still too much moisture. The outside edges of the bud should feel dry.
- Move to airtight glass jars. Quart-sized mason jars are a good size and affordable but any airtight glass container will do. Don’t pack the buds in, but loosely fill, leaving a couple of inches of space for air. Overfilling can lead to rapid mold growth. When shaking the jar, the buds should move independently, not clump together. If you experience too much stickiness, you should dry the buds a little more before storing them.
- Watch and wait. Starting with the first day you move your buds into jars, be sure to frequently open the jars to let moisture out and fresh air in. You may start with every few hours on your first day, then a few times a day, then once a day. This part of the process takes several weeks, so be patient! It’s during this time that your buds begin to really bloom into their full potential! The potency is increasing, the flavors are developing, and undesirable compounds are evaporating. The end result of proper curing will be smooth, flavorful and effective.