How to Make Cannabutter
Cannabis infused butter, otherwise known as cannabutter, is a primary ingredient in many marijuana-infused recipes. Cannabis butter is technically an ‘extraction’ method whereby the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are extracted from the cannabis plant and infused into the butter fats. The butter from a normal recipe is then substituted with cannabutter to produce psychoactive effects.
Patients seeking relief from the many side effects of various ailments can tailor their medication to their personal circumstances, preferences and dietary needs by creating their own edibles. Cannabutter can be used in practically any recipe that calls for butter by simply substituting cannabutter in equal measure. The trick is to dose the amount of butter you use with the desired effects you want to achieve.
When you’re making marijuana-infused butter (cannabutter), the key thing to remember is “low and slow” (eg, low temperature, slow cook time). Infusing the butter over low heat for several hours allows for full activation of the THC without scorching the herb or wasting material.
THC and CBD are not soluble in water, but are in certain carrier oils. Therefore, the butter fats act as carriers and “soak up” the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, leaving any impurities in the water.
If you are looking for a more psychoactive effect (eg. the high commonly associated with THC), then it is recommended that you completely decarboxylate your cannabis before cooking with it. The ‘decarbing’ process ensures the cannabinoids are activated and no longer in their acid-form (THCa, CBDa, etc.).
Decarboxylation is easy: Just bake your sample at 250°F/120°C for ½ to 1 hour. This will both activate your cannabis and give it a roasted, nutty taste.
While your herbs are being activated is a good time to clarify your butter. Clarified butter is also called drawn butter. It’s important to use drawn or clarified butter for your weed recipes because hard, cold butter sticks can never go into the MagicalButter machine. Also, removing the watery whey and milk solids from melted butter yields a richer extract with improved consistency and flavor.
Simply melt your hard butter in a saucepan over low heat until it divides into three layers: a large layer of clarified golden butterfat sandwiched between two thin layers of white milkfat. Then, skim off and discard the foamy top layer, and slowly decant the yellow layer into a container, taking care to leave behind the water and whey in the bottom. That yellow butterfat is clarified butter, the starting point for making MagicalButter. The end product will turn to a healthy green tint, owing to the chlorophyll in the plant.
Any kind of unsalted butter you like is acceptable, though fancy Irish butter usually leads to a better infusion: Better butter has less water content, yielding more infusible butterfat.
You Will Need:
- ½ ounce decarboxylated cannabis*
*New patients should consider starting with a half ounce flower, gradually increasing the amount of cannabis after becoming familiar with the results. Those seeking more potent medication may tolerate effects of a 1:1 ratio (1 oz of cannabis to 1 lb of butter). Also, flower high in THC (15%+ THC content) will often deliver a heavier effect than trim or shake. If using all shake/trim, use 1 to 3 ounces. Try experimenting with a mix of flowers and trim/shake to maximize your medication supply. Adding kief or vaped bud will contribute to the effects, but doing so unfortunately, cheapens the taste. Additionally, older/decarboxylated herbs/kief will typically yield a more sedative effect than fresh flower, so keep that in mind as well.
- 1 pound butter (unsalted preferred)
- 1 quart (4 cups) of water
- Metal spoon
- Medium saucepan/pot (2 or 3 quarts)
- Glass or stainless steel bowl (2 quarts)
- Metal strainer or colander
- 2 pieces of cheesecloth (approx 8” x 8”)
- Plastic wrap or airtight container(s)
- Combine water, butter (cut into several pieces) and cannabis into a pan and cook over low heat – the mixture should never boil but simply simmer. Continue cooking for 3-4 hours.
- Every 30 minutes or so stir gently. The mixture will thicken as the water cooks off. Don’t allow mixture to become too thick. The cannabis should float about 2 inches from the bottom of the pan and should never touch the bottom. If necessary, add water.
- After 3-4 hours, when the mixture looks glossy and is more dense and compact (most of the water has evaporated), turn off heat and allow to cool.
- While the butter mixture is cooling, line a metal colander or strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth (be sure to allow a few inches of overhang).
- When the mixture is safe to handle, pour the butter and cannabis mixture into the colander/strainer, pressing down with the back of a spatula, allowing the butter to drain into the glass bowl.
- With gloved hands, bring together the corners of the cheesecloth and twist tightly to squeeze out all of the butter. Discard cannabis.
- Using the spatula, scrape out any residual butter left in pan into the bowl.
- Place bowl in fridge for about 2 hours, or until butter has solidified.
- After the butter has solidified, the next step is to remove it from the water. Run a knife around edges to separate the butter from the bowl, and then cut a small piece from edge (but large enough to feed spatula underneath).
- Carefully lift the butter layer and place wet side up on wax paper or cutting board and dab off any excess water with dry clean cloth. Your finished butter will have a green tinge.
- Place the cannabutter into an airtight container, and store in fridge until ready to use.
- It is recommended cannabutter be used immediately, or within a few weeks for optimal quality.