The road to excellent cannabis culminates in the drying and curing process of the buds. Drying and curing are as important as the growing and harvest preparations. The meticulous attention you give to nurturing your plant should also be applied to drying and curing your buds. If you are a newbie, and on the way to your first Croptober, you ought to remember the basics of drying and curing.
Drying vs Curing – What’s the Difference?
Drying and curing are similar in purpose and method but have differences as well. In a nutshell, drying is more of a passive step, while curing is more active, and requires more attention. For one, you hang buds to dry in a dark room, with controlled temperatures, and humidity.
Drying is done before or after trimming your buds. In contrast, curing requires you to store your buds in sealable containers, such as a mason jar, and open them for a specific time. It also happens after the buds are dried and trimmed. If you notice, drying and curing are not at all that different. But these steps are just as crucial as each other, and that is why you should not take them for granted.
What Is the Best Way to Dry Buds?
The Ideal Environment Requires You to Have the Right Temperature
Anything above 25 degrees Celsius, and your buds dry out prematurely. Go below 18 degrees, and your buds will take longer to dry. You can resolve this by having a heater or air-conditioning to set the temperature of the room at the ideal range. Remember that temperatures outside the drying area also affect the process, so you need full control over the heat inside.
You Also Need to Have the Proper Ventilation in the Room
Having good and consistent ventilation helps remove air pockets and moisture in the drying room, which in turn affects the humidity inside. Humidity must also be within 50 to 60 percent inside your dry room. If kept low, buds will take longer to dry, and may grow fungi. At higher levels, your buds will dry prematurely.
To achieve adequate ventilation and humidity, you can set up fans blowing from the ground up. But make sure it does not hit the buds directly, as this can prematurely dry your buds.
The Room Must Be Dark
The ideal drying room must be dark, as light can damage the THC in your buds. While it does not hurt to have a light source inside to check on the progress of your buds, you should keep it off most of the time, and block all other passages of light that can enter the room. That includes windows and slits where light can pass through and shine on your buds.
Even your buds need to practice social distancing. If they are too close, your buds may not have enough space to release trapped moisture. That may result in the formation of molds on your other buds.
Your buds only need a few inches of space between each other. Consider as well spacing when you build your drying room. These factors significantly affect the speed of drying and the quality of your buds.
If you cannot find the right room, you can always substitute a grow tent for your drying space. Keep in mind the four (4) crucial elements listed above, and your harvests will dry properly. When done right, drying should take you around 15 days. If the branches of your strain breaks, instead of bending, it means your buds are dry.
What Is the Best Way to Cure Buds?
Trim Your Buds
If you opted to dry immediately after harvest, you need to trim your buds first.
Get your trimmer and bucker ready, and remove those excess leaves and stalks on your buds before you begin the curing process.
Giving your buds a proper trim helps unlock more flavors from your strain and dispel other contents inside.
Control the Humidity and Temperature Levels
Just like drying your buds, curing requires you to have full control over the humidity inside the room.
The room where you will put your buds for curing should have the same temperature and humidity range as drying. Unless you are drying another batch of buds simultaneously, you can use the drying space you used, since it has been set up for this.
Prepare the Containers
Growers prefer glass containers like mason jars to store the buds for curing. Get something that you can easily open, as you will have to open these containers periodically. Make sure you also have enough containers, as you cannot fill the jars to the brim. Your container needs to have enough space to shake them now and then.
The Curing Proper
Curing starts by filling your chosen containers up to 75 per cent of the total capacity.
For the first week, open your jar a few times each day to let the buds breather. That will allow moisture to escape while allowing more oxygen for the buds.
If you open your container and there’s an awful smell, that is an indicator of anaerobic bacterial growth. That occurs when buds are not dried completely. To fix this, get your hygrometer and check the humidity of the container. The container should have a humidity level of 60 to 65 percent.
If the humidity is above 70 percent, take out the buds and let it dry for 12 to 24 hours. That is why it is ideal to have similar conditions with your drying room.
If the humidity is above 65 but below 70, keep the container open with the buds inside and let it sit for 2 to 4 hours.
If the humidity is below 60 percent, you need to rehydrate your buds with a humidipack or any organic matter, such as fruit peelings. Note that there is a risk of mold growth when rehydrating your buds.
If things go well, after the first week, you will only need to check the buds every two (2) days. If you think the buds are too dry, you can leave the buds inside the jar for three (3) more days to check if there is still moisture trapped inside.
The total curing time also depends on the strain. But as a rule of thumb, you need at least 2 - 3 weeks for your buds to cure. Some growers go for eight (8) weeks for curing. And in some cases, some strains have a better flavor when cured for six (6) months.
Although not all can enjoy that long of a curing process, anything beyond that has minimal effects on your buds. If you plan to go beyond half a year, you will need to use a better storage system, such as vacuum-sealed packs, to maintain the potency of the bud.
Can Freeze Drying Replace Drying and Curing?
Yes. Freeze drying is an option you can consider if you want to cut down on the amount of time in drying and curing. You get the same results, if not better, when you freeze-dry your buds.
Should you invest in a freeze dryer? It depends. While it is a pricey investment, the trade-off helps you save more money in the long run. But doing the traditional drying and curing method helps you understand the process, including all problems that may arise. You cannot be an expert in cannabis growing and processing, without personally understanding the process of cannabis for consumption.
Drying and curing is a straightforward process that requires perseverance to understand and perfect. The procedures might look complicated, but once you understand it, the best flavors are waiting for you at the end of the process.