Seven years ago, I used my immersion circulator to make some edibles (for work), then tried them all at once and got too high to order a burrito. Sous vide was, and continues to be, an efficient THC extraction method. But I live in Portland, a city where delicious professionally made edibles are ubiquitous and cheap, so I rarely DIY them.
A little over a year ago, I inherited a bag of old weed and weed paraphernalia, including several little jars of dried-out keef. I had been smoking it with lackluster results, so I decided to abandon inhalation altogether, and chucked it into a sous-vide bath to make a brutal batch of brownies.
Before we get into exactly how I did that, I want to stress that this imprecise method is not the one to use if you are making edibles for the first time, or if your only experience with edibles is eating a five-milligram square of chocolate before bed. This is a method that should only be attempted if you are “good on weed,” and won’t be thrown by an unexpectedly intense experience. Given that you’re working with old weed (and potentially old keef), there’s no way to accurately predict the dosage of your edibles. I will provide some ratios for flower and keef for those who wish to err on the side of caution, but keep in mind your edibles will probably be weaker than expected if you’re working with a less-than-fresh supply.
I love to sous weed
Using an immersion circulator—either the Anova or the Joule—let’s you decarb without any stink, and infuse without any stirring. You seal your flower and powder in a vacuum bag (or freezer bag), then submerge it in a water bath that’s been heated to 203ºF for an hour. This step, as I explained seven years ago, is called “decarboxylating,” and you cannot skip it:
“Decarbing” has nothing to do with carbohydrates. It’s short for “decarboxylating,” which is a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide, converting THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid) to THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). This process takes place slowly as the pot flowers dry out, but you can speed it up with the application of heat. Before you ask, there is no need to decarb pot you’re going to smoke, as the heat from the act of smoking takes care of that.
When done in the oven, decarbing can infuse your home with the smell of pot, which is not the chicest smell. Sealing everything in plastic bags and submerging it in water keeps your pad stink-free, or at least free of one specific source of stink. There’s no need to measure your flower or keef before decarbing, just chuck it in and go.
Once decarboxylated, you’re ready to infuse. You can infuse butter, oil, or alcohol. Saturated fats are believed to extract THC more efficiently than unsaturated fats, so use butter or coconut oil if you’re trying to maximize your milligrams. If you’re working with pure flower, a ratio of 8 ounces of saturated fat or 16 ounces unsaturated fat (like olive or vegetable oil) for every ounce of weed should work just fine. According to Hail Mary Jane, a ratio of 5-6 grams of keef for a cup of butter (or coconut oil) is “more than enough to feel the effects.”
If you want to infuse alcohol, use a ratio of one gram of decarbed weed for every 250 milliliters of spirit, and sous vide in a mason jar at 203℉ for two hours, but be warned: I’ve seen fully grown dirtbags knocked on their literal asses by weed vodka. (If you want to get kind of exacting with your dosing, you can use this calculator to get an idea of how strong your infusion is, but think of it as an approximation, just to be safe.)
If you aren’t a nerd, you can just chuck what you have—in my case, a couple of tablespoons of flour and two half-empty jars of keef—into a bag, decarb it, add enough olive oil to just cover the weed, then sous vide it at 185℉ for four hours. This is a foolish, irresponsible way to make your edibles, but if you like surprising your body and mind with sudden and unpredictable effects, I highly recommend it.
What to do with your infusion
If you made an alcoholic infusion, God bless. You are on a journey for which I can offer no guidance beyond “be careful, and start small.” If you made an oil or butter, you can use it like you would any other cooking fat. A good place to start is the classic brownie. You can use this recipe (for butter), or do what I did with my olive oil of unknown concentration and chuck it into a box mix. If the volume of your infusion ends up being smaller than the amount called for in the box instructions—and mine was—just make up the difference with some plain oil.
As far as baking temperatures go, you may have heard that THC starts to breakdown as low as 200℉ (the internet is wildly conflicted about this), but it doesn’t matter that much. Even if you are baking your edibles at a temperature of 350℉ or 400℉, air is an inefficient heat conductor, and brownies, when fully baked, clock in somewhere in the 180℉-200℉ range, depending on how “done” you like them. Don’t worry about adjusting your baking temp, is all I’m saying.
I don’t want to think, I just want to get high
If you don’t want to think about numbers, or just love treating your body like a science experiment, I have just the method for you. Again, I must stress that this method is in no way optimized, and may get you higher than you’ve ever been. It might also get you much less high than you were expecting, depending on how old your weed and keef is. This method is for the lazy, whimsical adult who doesn’t have a ton of personal responsibilities.
Claire’s dirtbag sous-vide infusion method:
- Place your immersion circulator in a water bath and heat it to 203ºF.
- Gather all of your old weed and keef and put it in a quart-sized Ziploc freezer bag or vacuum bag. If using a vacuum bag, suck that air out and seal it up. If using a freezer bag, force as much air out as you can by slowly submerging the bag in water, then close the top.
- Submerge your bag of drugs in the bath for 1 hour.
- Remove the bag and increase the sous-vide temp to 203℉
- Open up the bag and add enough oil or melted butter to cover it by an inch or two. Re-seal the bag and submerge in the water bath for four hours.
- Strain the flower bits out of the fat and use it to make a batch of boxed brownies.
Once baked, approach your brownies with respect. A “normal” sized brownie from the batch I made is enough to fully flatten me, but sometimes one needs a little brain flattening. Try a little, see how you feel, then portion your brownies accordingly and store them in the freezer. They will keep just fine pretty much indefinitely, though it only took me a little over a month to work through my batch. (I have exactly one brownie left, but I’m saving her for the weekend. These are not school night edibles, but they are effective.)