How to Make Cannabis Oil - Interview with an Entrepreneur & Chef

“There are so many things that cannabis does for people. And the best way to ingest it is through either something that incorporates cannabis oil or cannabis butter.”
Jeff Danzer, The 420 Chef, the Executive Chef of Monica’s House

In 440 BC, the Greeks wrote about the delight they experienced when cannabis flowers were thrown on hot stones; today, more and more Americans are able to experience the same. Now legal for either medicinal or recreational use in a majority of states, cannabis has graduated from the dorm room and moved into the suburban kitchen. The resultant reduction of stigmas around cannabis have allowed more consumers to see it for what it is: a plant with numerous health benefits.

Many of the benefits of cannabis come from cannabidiol (CBD). Divorced from cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for most of cannabis’s psychoactive effects, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of abuse or dependence potential, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). CBD has a wide variety of medical applications, including the treatment of epilepsy, anxiety, and chronic pain.

THC has its own benefits, too. In addition to alleviating inflammation and chronic pain, orally administered THC can reduce nausea and vomiting, particularly in chemotherapy patients. It has anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as applications in the treatment of migraines and Crohn’s disease. Most users, however, would also point to the compound’s mental benefits: THC promotes introspection and metacognition.

Several strains of cannabis contain both THC and CBD, but forget rolling joints. Today, cannabis users can choose between more sophisticated–and healthy—methods of ingestion.

Cooking with Cannabis: Interview with Jeff the 420 Chef

“There are so many things that cannabis does for people,” says Jeff Danzer, better known as Jeff the 420 Chef, the executive chef of Monica’s House, a cannabis edibles consumption lounge in West Hollywood. “And the best way to ingest it is through either something that incorporates cannabis oil or cannabis butter.”

Cannabis oil in particular allows one the flexibility to tailor the end product’s taste, dosage, and application to their own precise desires. This goes way beyond making brownies. Jeff’s cookbook, The Art of Elevated Cannabis Cuisine, blends the art and the science of cannabis cooking into delicious appetizers, entrees, desserts, sauces, and beverages. The secret ingredient is Jeff’s light-tasting cannabis oil, which reduces the herbaceous, weedy pungency of the cannabis plant, and allows the unique flavor of individual strains to push through.

“If you’ve ever burnt a piece of toast, it doesn’t matter what type of toast it is, the black part will always taste and smell the same,” Jeff says. “It’s the same thing with cannabis. In most traditional cannabis oils, that overpowering taste you’re tasting is the burnt terpenes, flavonoids, and chlorophyll, the most volatile substances in the cannabis plant. I figured out that it makes sense to remove those compounds before I even get started, so my butter or oil tastes really good.”

Jeff has gone beyond simply removing certain compounds. Using molecular gastronomy, he’s able to make his cannabis taste like any other herb he wants to: oregano, basil, or thyme, for example. He’s working on a CBD-only version of it, too. Jeff’s culinary cannabis can look and taste like magic, but he assures his readers that anyone can do it.

“To start out, first just learn about the plant,” Jeff says. “From there, you can make a clean cannabis butter or cannabis oil. You’ll be shocked when you see how potent it is, and how great it tastes. Then just start playing with it.”

Meet the Expert: Jeff the 420 Chef

Jeff Danzer, better known as Jeff the 420 Chef, is an author, entrepreneur, educator, podcast host, and one of the world’s top cannabis chefs. In 2014, Jeff revolutionized cannabis consumption by inventing a process that neutralizes the herbaceous taste of the cannabis plant. Since then, he’s expanded into molecular gastronomy, layered microdosing, and culinary deconstruction.

On his website, Jeff offers readers recipes, videos, lessons, tips, and apps that further his overarching mission: to make cooking with cannabis simple and easy for everyone and to bring the cannabis consumption experience into the mainstream.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Cannabis Oil

Traditional cannabis oil will have a piercing, pungent flavor. But with a few simple steps, you can make a more light-tasting cannabis oil that’s cleaner and more versatile. To get a step-by-step guide to making Jeff’s light-tasting cannabis oil, read on.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Cannabis oil is made by infusing oil with cannabis. Both CBD and THC are fat-soluble, meaning they bind to the fatty acid molecules within the oil. Add just the right amounts of heat and time, and you get a potent, healthy, and versatile substance: cannabis oil.

To get started, you’ll need the following items:

  • 8 oz olive oil
  • 1/4 oz cannabis
  • French coffee press
  • Large tea strainer
  • Salad spinner
  • Large pot (for boiling water)
  • Baking tray or pyrex dish
  • 8 oz mason or bell jar (for storing the oil)

When selecting your cannabis, the amount and the strain can heavily impact the final product. Keep in mind that oral ingestion of cannabis may affect a person differently than smoking cannabis would; start with a low dosage, and allow plenty of time for your body to digest it. For pure CBD oil, use hemp instead of cannabis.

Step 2: Clean the Cannabis

To remove the contaminants from your cannabis, and to ensure a cleaner, less-pungent taste, start by picking apart your cannabis, and placing it in your french press, and soaking it overnight in distilled water.

Do this for three days, straining and changing the water every 12 hours or so. By the third day, the water should run clear.

Now that your cannabis is clean, place it in a large tea strainer. Separately, bring a pot of water to boil, and then place the tea strainer in boiling water for five minutes. Immediately remove the tea strainer after five minutes and place it in ice water for one minute.

Then remove your cannabis from the ice water, and gently break it apart into the salad spinner. Spin for about 30 minutes to remove any excess water, then transfer your cannabis to a sheet pan or pyrex dish.

Step 3: Decarboxylate the Cannabis

Don’t be scared by the look of the word: “decarbing” your cannabis is a simple but important step in activating the cannabinoid compounds within the raw cannabis plant and achieving the associated benefits.

When smoked or vaporized, cannabis is decarboxylated practically instantly. But for cooking with cannabis, the mantra should be “low and slow.” Decarboxylating your cannabis will activate the plant’s CBD and THC, while also preserving other beneficial cannabinoids.

To decarb your cannabis, preheat your oven to 240 degrees. Then place the baking tray or pyrex dish that contains your cannabis in the oven for 60 to 75 minutes. When done, remove the baking sheet from the oven. The cannabis should have changed color from dark green to light brown. If you want to save some of your decarboxylated cannabis for later, allow it to cool completely, then store it in an airtight container.

Step 4: Infuse the Oil

Now that you’ve cleaned and decarbed your cannabis, you’re ready to infuse your oil.

Fill a large pot with water, and bring to a slow boil. Place your olive oil and decarbed cannabis in your french press, and place standing upright in the boiling water for two to two-and-a-half hours.

Gently swirl the oil and cannabis in the french press every 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the water level in your pot every 20 to 30 minutes, and refill slowly as necessary. You want the water level to remain at the same height as the oil in the french press.

When the two to two-and-a-half hours are up, remove the french press from heat and allow it to cool for 30 minutes.

Once cooled, press the plunger down on the french press to strain the oil, then pour that oil into a heatproof jar, and store it in a cool dry place. You can also refrigerate it.

When you want to use some of the oil, simply place the jar back in hot water to liquify the contents, or simply let the jar come back to room temperature (this takes about an hour).

Step 5: Enjoy!

Cannabis oil is a versatile and valuable product. It can be used in topical lotions and ointments, combined into foods, or placed under the tongue for sublingual absorption. But especially when it comes to cannabis oil infused with THC, be cautious with your dosing. Edible products in particular are notoriously hard to gauge in potency. Furthermore, the effects take longer to announce themselves than via other methods of ingestion.

Start with a quarter- to a half-teaspoon of raw oil, and wait one to three hours.

Once you get a sense for the effects, you can calculate what’s needed for a batch of edible goods. If you’re looking for a more technological solution, you can try Jeff’s THC calculator. But in any event, always remember the mantra: low and slow. Enjoy!

Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog is a writer and freelancer who has been living abroad since 2016. His nonfiction has been published by Euromaidan Press, Cirrus Gallery, and Our Thursday. Both his writing and his experience abroad are shaped by seeking out alternative lifestyles and counterculture movements, especially in developing nations. You can follow his travels through Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Instagram at @weirdviewmirror. He’s recently finished his second novel, and is in no hurry to publish it.

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