If you’ve read anything about making your own cannabis edibles, you probably know that most of the time, it’s not worth wasting money on expensive cannabis as raw material. We told you so in our Rookie Mistakes post!
But there are a few cases when it can pay off to use a nicer strain of flower or a high-end concentrate, for example, to create a gourmet edible at home. In this post we’ll give you a few examples of when you might want to spend a little more on your cannabis source material to treat yourself to DIY gourmet cannabis edibles.
The Basics: Why Not Use Great Weed?
Many people save money by infusing their butter or other fats with cannabis shake, stems, trim, leaves, or AVB, “already vaped bud,” cannabis flower that has been vaporized—sometimes also called “ABV” for “already been vaped.” Others, and many commercial cannabis kitchens, save money by using mixed bud for creating edibles.
In fact, in most cases this is our advice, too: save your best flower for smoking. Some of the best aspects of high-quality cannabis are in its aroma and flavor, but infused inside a dark chocolate bar after processing, for example, that mostly doesn’t come through.
But as we pointed out in our Rookie Mistakes post, just like when you smoke cannabis, you’re still after the whole plant cannabis effects, and cannabis edibles made with different strains can produce unique effects. Contrary to popular belief, this is based less on indica vs sativa plant genetics and more on the specific cannabinoid and terpene profiles of the plants.
And in some cannabis products, these profiles are more notable and premium than others.
Terpenes create flower and plant tastes and aromas, and they also help fuel the benefits and effects of cannabis in the body. Terpenes, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, and other plant compounds all contribute to the entourage effect, a synergistic phenomenon that occurs when all of the cannabis plant’s compounds are consumed together.
The Exception: When To Splurge
There are times, though, when you’re making something a little different that can really benefit from a more terpy offering. In these cases, a more high-quality cannabis product such as a top shelf, terpene-rich strain of flower or a high-end concentrate might be the right choice.
Here are the times we make the exception:
- We want to taste terpenes
- We need the effects of a concentrate and we want something better than distillate
- The profile contributes to the recipe
You’ll see in the sample recipes we give that all three of these are true each time!
Which High-End Cannabis To Use In Edibles
This is truly a matter of taste, but there are a few guidelines to follow here.
First, if you’re using concentrates, refer to our guide on how to make edibles using concentrates. It can be a little tricky if you’re getting used to it, although in the end it’s actually even easier than using flower.
Beyond that, consider the cannabinoid and terpene profile of the product, and how it smells and tastes. These are the factors that will most impact how it affects your edibles.
We love to use very terpene-rich strains and products. Here are some of our favorites.
Island Sweet Skunk
This strain is lightly skunky and more sweet, and generally high-THC and rich in terpenes. This is ideal for cheesy desserts like cheesecake (which is perfect for infusing with cannabis anyway due to the high fat content).
(For actual skunky flavor we like Skunk No. 1 or Super Skunk. If you’re looking for something more generally pungent, aim for anything with Chem, Glue, or Garlic in the name.)
Zkittlez is on every list of the best tasting cannabis strains, and top shelf versions and concentrates accent its tropical, fruity, candy flavor. That leading citrus profile is supported by equally delicious herbal, tangy notes that will remind you of taking a vacation. This is a perfect strain for real fruit gummies!
Don’t worry about coughing; expect the flavor of juicy, ripe strawberries with hints of skunk and vanilla underneath. This is a perfect strain for morning and all-day use and creative endeavors, and with flavor like this, you’re going to love it in a rich smoothie with Greek yogurt.
Blueberry is famous for flavor, and this is why it has given birth to so many other amazing strains (think Blue Cheese, Blue Dream, Blue Haze, and Blue Cookies. This is one strain that has earned its name, with a smell and taste that’s absolutely 100% sweet, juicy, plump blueberry. Underneath you’ll get notes of other forest fruits, pine, earthy flavors, and vanilla. This is a perfect strain, especially in high-terpene concentrate form, to infuse into cannabutter for blueberry muffins or pancakes—although these might put you to sleep.
The last of the fruity trio of strains that smells just as strong as its name, Tangie fills any room with a delightfully citrusy aroma of fresh tangerines and slight skunky undertones. Tangie delivers an energizing, euphoric high that’s ideal for morning use—and we love using a high-end Tangie concentrate to create cannabis sugar for our lemonade.
Sativa-dominant Afghan Haze blends a sweet-smelling Haze sativa with a resinous Afghani indica for balanced, soothing full-body effects and energizing cerebral benefits. With flavors of fresh earth, nuts, skunk, wood, and coffee, Afghan Haze is perfect for Bulletproof Coffee.
OG LA Affie
Pure indica OG LA Affie is known for treating insomnia and pain, not to mention psychedelic effects. The aroma and flavor, similar to its offspring LA Confidential, is sweetly earthy, perfect for infusing with marinated vegetables or garlic.
The spicy anise smell and flavor of Durban Poison is like nothing else, hitting along with earthy and pine tastes as well. This is the perfect strain for infusing into cooking oil for marinated main dishes, or desserts where a black licorice flavor and uplifting, energizing, clear-headed effect might be ideal.
Jack Herer is among the ultimate spicy cannabis cultivars. This sativa-dominant strain is a cross of Shiva Skunk and Northern Lights #5 that produces a blissful, clear-headed, cerebral experience. Jack Herer is a terpinolene-dominant strain with a strong yet light, fresh, peppery, pine, and spice taste and smell that you will love infused into cannabutter and made into gingersnaps.
Super Silver Haze
Highly aromatic Super Silver Haze delivers spicy floral notes and hints of tangy lemon and citrus, with energizing daytime effects. This flavor is perfect for adding something more interesting to an omelette or egg dish via your cooking oil.
Love child of Super Skunk and Chemdawg, Sour Diesel, also known as Sour D, is a dreamy, head-forward sativa strain with that classic, pungent diesel flavor profile. Sour Diesel is perfect for treating pain, depression, anxiety, and stress, and with that gassy, sour flavor, we love making Sweet and Sour Shrimp with it.
You can smell Cheese from a mile away, and we mean that as a compliment. With these happy, relaxed effects and that sharp, unique flavor, you can’t go wrong infusing this into extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on pizza.
Recipes: Gourmet Edibles
Here are some of our favorite ways to use higher end source cannabis for a really special edible result. As always, make it your own by following your nose and tastes.
Super Lemon Haze Sugar Infused Honey
We talked about how to infuse cannabis honey here. Our favorite high-end way to do it?
Start with Super Lemon Haze concentrate—we like sugar, or another very terpene-rich variety. Decarb your concentrate, and then infuse your honey with it.
If you start with a gram that’s around 70 percent THC, you’ll still have a very potent honey product—and with honey, that’s ideal, because you just need a little sweetness (and cannabis) in that tea. If you use this kind of concentrate, you’ll taste it!
GMO Cookies Live Resin Infused Salad Oil
We started with one gram of GMO Cookies live resin, which had such a strong terpene profile that we could smell it through the package. That garlic, chemical smell was so pungent, we knew salad oil was the way to go.
We decarbed the GMO Cookies live resin. Next we infused it into EVOO—use our post on infusing cooking oil here.
With salad oil, just infuse the cannabis EVOO first. Then, mix up the portion you want along with the rest of the dressing. Our favorite blend was equal parts infused EVOO and red wine vinegar, around 1 tablespoon each honey and Dijon mustard, plus crushed garlic, powdered garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, salt, and black pepper to taste.
Top Shelf Wedding Cake Infused Buttercream
If you really want to celebrate, infuse top shelf Wedding Cake cannabis into cannabutter to create the ultimate Infused Vanilla Buttercream. Use our cannabutter recipe to infuse, and then beat 1 cup soft unsalted butter total (whichever portion of it you like should be infused) in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy. Add 4 to 5 cups powdered sugar, ¼ cup heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk (infused if you like), and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract and beat until creamy. Add salt, to taste, if needed.
95 percent of the time, we’re using whatever we’ve got left to make edibles at home, just like you. But every once in a while, it’s a special occasion.
If you’re trying to treat yourself, creating truly gourmet edibles at home, there’s a time and place for using high-quality concentrates and top shelf flower. We find it’s most worthwhile when it’s a super tasty, terpy concentrate that stretches a long way in something otherwise hard to get effects with like honey or oil you use just a little of—and where it helps the taste.