The Herbivore: Infusing Cooking Oil

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The Herbivore is a new monthly feature all about how to incorporate cannabis in the kitchen. Medicating through cooking is an accessible and fun option for patients who want to avoid inhalation. While ingesting cannabis in food has been around for quite a while, the possibilities (thankfully) go far beyond the grassy pot brownies of the past. If it’s your first time trying out infusing food with cannabis, welcome! Each month, we will feature a new, mostly healthy, recipe to try out. And don’t hesitate to let us know if there is a particular recipe you would like to see.

For our first installation of this feature, we will discuss how to infuse your own cooking oil with cannabis. This recipe is incredibly versatile; you may use the medicated oil in any recipe you would normally use oil for. First, we will explore the health benefits and differences between two classic oils: olive and coconut. If you already feel comfortable using these ingredients, feel free to scroll down to “Infusing your Oil.”

Olive Oil

 

Olive oil is delicious, adaptable to many uses, and good for you. There’s nothing quite as luxurious as dipping fresh bread, salt, and pepper, in olive oil—the perfect snack. All you’re missing is that Italian villa.

This option is also full of health benefits:

  • Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fats.
    Unlike saturated fats, monounsaturated fats do not raise cholesterol levels. The predominant fatty acid in olive oil is known as oleic acid, a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
  • Olive oil contains anti-oxidants.
    Anti-oxidants can prevent disease and help with aging.

There are some things to keep in mind when cooking with this ingredient. If you’ve often stood at the grocery store shelf wondering what type to get, there are slight differences between Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, and Pure Olive Oil. Understanding these differences may assist you in deciding what variety to use.

Typically, Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the strongest flavor and is the highest-quality, unrefined oil you can purchase. This choice does have a lower percentage of oleic acid (>1%) and a lower burning temperature. We recommend reserving this option for cold recipes — this allows for the fantastic flavor to take center stage.

Virgin Olive Oil is the next tier down in regard to quality. Kitchens commonly use this type of oil. Virgin Olive Oil is also unrefined, it has a slightly higher percentage of oleic acid and a lighter flavor. It also has a higher smoking point, making it an ideal choice for cooking.

Finally, Pure Olive Oil is typically a lower quality mix of different types of Olive Oil. This option is perfectly acceptable for cooking, but it may be refined.

Coconut Oil

People also enjoy infusing coconut oil. This fatty, luxurious oil is a wonderful option for its robust flavor and creamy texture. It’s also a good pantry staple, as it may be used as a makeup remover or a hair conditioner (of course, maybe keep your cosmetic coconut oil separate from your cooking coconut oil 😉 ). It is also good for you and contains many beneficial components.

  • Coconut Oil boosts your immune system.
    This is because it contains several antimicrobial lipids, including lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid. Our bodies naturally turn lauric acid into monolaurin. Human breast milk contains monolaurin and may help infants fight off disease.
  • Medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil help maintain organ health and may prevent liver disease.

The primary difference between coconut oils at the grocery is whether they are refined or unrefined. Refined coconut oil goes through a heating and/or bleaching process. Therefore, this type of oil lacks many of the health benefits that unrefined coconut oil contains. We recommend using the unrefined type to maintain these benefits, including Vitamin E and a host of antioxidants.

Infusing Your Oil

After you’ve decided what oil would be best for your recipe, it’s time to infuse it with cannabis! Before getting started, make sure you have a few tools and ingredients on-hand:

1 cup or less of ground cannabis flower, depending on the desired potency.
1 cup of oil of your choice
Cheesecloth (some recipes recommend a strainer; we think a cheesecloth is more effective)
Double boiler

Start with grinding your cannabis. A simple hand grinder or a mortar and pestle work well. Don’t get too stressed if there are a few stems mixed in there, and don’t grind to a fine powder. You don’t want the grain to be too small, or else it will end up in your infused oil!

Pour the ground cannabis into the double boiler, along with the cup of oil. Heat on low. This heating process allows the cannabis to decarboxylate. Decarboxylation activates the THC in the cannabis without burning the plant material. This necessary step is the reason why eating raw cannabis, while good for you, won’t elicit any mental effects.

Allow these ingredients to cook together for 6-8 hours over low heat and stirring occasionally. Keep in mind that the mixture shouldn’t exceed 245*F, or else you may risk losing valuable cannabinoids.

After the mixture has thoroughly heated and mixed, strain it through the cheesecloth. We recommend storing your newly infused oil in a refrigerated glass container to maintain its potency.

Make sure to check out our next installations of The Herbivore for more recipes and ways to use your infused oil. Happy cooking! 

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