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The practice of cooking with cannabis has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Many experienced cannabis consumers know cannabis edibles from back in the days before legalization and commercially available cannabis edibles. Brownies and cookies made with homemade cannabutter are something known and loved by generations of cannabis enthusiasts.
Cannabutter was a common stovetop concoction. Cannabis heated in melted butter and decarboxylated provided a potent butter for baking dessert items. Cannabutter is still popular today, and easier to make than ever, and now, for those with a sweet tooth who live in legal states, a trip to the dispensary is all that’s necessary to get a cannabis infused soda, candy bar, or other dessert item. Cannabis edibles like sweets, beverages, and candies are here to stay.
Sweet or Savory?
In today’s age of legal marijuana, cannabis in the kitchen extends well beyond baked goods. The practice of cooking with cannabis extends beyond cannabutter to include infused cooking oils as well. Sweet dessert items will always maintain a strong presence in the cannabis space, but now a growing number of savory items are sharing the spotlight as well. Main-course dishes and full cannabis dinners are reaching the mainstream.
Popular culture reflects this trend with television shows like “Bong Appétit” on the Vice Channel. Although the show’s host, Abdullah Saeed, parted with the network last year over policy differences, his show did much to promote the practice of cannabis-themed meals. Guest cooks on the shows included some big names in cooking, including Restauranteur and Chef Cat Cora, known for her work on “Iron Chef America,” on the Food Network and “Around the World in 80 Plates” on Bravo. While Cora is not a regular cannabis chef, her enthusiasm and interest in the concept was very apparent. The cannabis pantry on “Bong Appetit” is enough to make any cannabis enthusiast’s mouth water. A visit to the pantry is part of every episode as guest chefs decide their menus and the infused ingredients they will use. The assortment of dried strains and other savory ingredients containing cannabis is large and impressive to say the least.
Cannabis edibles continue to grow in popularity. For foodies who love cannabis, this can become a fun new hobby, and for those with culinary expertise and an entrepreneurial spirit, the possibilities for professional careers and new businesses continue to grow.
Food Categories and Activities
Helping chefs cook with cannabis is the focus of emerging companies. In Seattle, Craft Elixirs creates a wide range of infused syrups and other foods like potato chips to make cannabis-infused meals easy to make at home. Using Washington-state local ingredients, the company takes much of the work out of creating a tasty cannabis-infused meal. Craft Elixirs is far from alone when it comes to marketing savory snacks and main dish ingredients. These days, those who live in cannabis-legal states have a wide selection of foods to purchase from a range of companies. The list of infused foods is only limited by the imagination of those who create them. Infused popcorn, roasted nut mixes, barbecue sauces, olive oils, crackers and chips, beef jerky, pizza sauces, peanut butters, and soups are just a few of the infused-food categories now on the market.
Cannabis cooking classes promoted by companies like Denver’s 420 Tours are becoming increasingly easy to find, as are other activities like sushi and joint rolling. With many marijuana strains working as appetite stimulants, it seems only natural that the two would go together.
Not surprising, the number of chefs now making a name for themselves through cooking with cannabis is growing at a rapid rate as the general public increases its awareness of how perfectly cannabis and food pair together.
Chef Payton Curry is one such example. With culinary businesses in California and Arizona, Curry, who specializes in “whole plant comfort food,” is the founder of Flourish Cannabis, a cannabis food company. As a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York and a former instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, he honed his skills in the kitchens of Quince and Ame in San Francisco.
Denver’s Jaimie Lewis is another chef making a name for herself with cannabis edibles. She studied under Chef Laurent Gras in the kitchen of Fifth Floor and also created culinary masterpieces at Bix and The Front Porch, all in San Francisco. Lewis describes her focus as “low-dose French fundamentals” and she has a preference for cooking with sativa strains. No stranger to cannabis, she got her start with cannabis edibles by making infused products for San Francisco medical dispensaries before moving to Denver and opening her company Mountain Medicine in 2009.
New York’s Miguel Trinidad is making a name for himself on the East Coast with his cannabis-infused recipes. Trinidad describes his food as “strain-specific world fusion,” and he specializes in five-course dinner parties. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, he opened Maharlika, a Soho Filipino restaurant before founding 99th Floor, promoting private cannabis dinners. He’s staged dinners in Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, serving delicious cannabis-infused creations like steak tartare, lobster risotto, and bouillabaisse. His meals have received positive reviews ever since.
A few years ago, there were only a few cannabis cookbooks, and now the market is nearly flooded with them. Like the food itself, cannabis cuisine cookbooks now extend well beyond sweets and baked dessert items. The “Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook: Feel-Good Food for Home Cooks” by Robyn Griggs Lawrence is one such example. This large book covers many aspects of cannabis and provides good background information about cannabis, concentrates, and their uses. A robust selection of recipes makes up generous space in the text and covers every meal course, with generous attention given to appetizers and desserts.
Even cannabis-infused beverages receive treatment focus in the cannabis book realm. “Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations” by Warren Bobrow celebrates one of the newest popular ways to enjoy marijuana. With 75 drink recipes, including coffees and teas, this comprehensive book contains enough information to keep any bartender busy. This book is sure to be a hit with anyone who enjoys cannabis and liquor.
The coffee table book-quality hardcover, “Herb: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Cannabis” by Melissa Parks and Laurie Wolf, brings fine-cuisine cannabis cooking to the masses. Thoughtfully written and well-illustrated, this book not only provides numerous recipes, but also includes tantalizing photos of each dish to show users what their culinary masterpieces will look like when served. Although a bit pricier than most other cannabis cookbooks, the quality and attention to detail that went into this title set it apart. If you have the money to spend, this book is well worth your consideration.
So, when you think of cannabis edibles these days, try to forget the old-school homemade treats of times past. Although there is still much to be said for the fun of home baked goods, the cannabis cooking realm has grown tremendously. With refined cooking methods and commercially available products, the manner in which you can spend your cannabis-friendly time in the kitchen now holds amazingly diverse options. The next time you have the munchies, by all means explore the opportunities!