Cannabis in the kitchen: why marijuana is the latest trend in cooking
From pot brownies to edible products, and of course the munchies – cannabis has always been associated with food for a long time. But as the legalization of marijuana has swept across the USA, the quality, price, and overall practical use of cannabis in food have only grown over time. More Americans than ever consume marijuana through edible forms, whether it’s through drinks like coffee or kombucha through to baked goods and chocolate.
But beyond consumer products, marijuana has started to make a name for itself in the cuisine market as more than just a way to get pot into consumers’ bodies. These days, cooking with cannabis has an art to it – something thousands of brands are capitalizing on to provide increasingly more upmarket, high-quality, and delicious cannabis-infused dishes and meals. One of the most unlikely areas of growth since the legalization process began, marijuana has become more than just a simple addition to the recipe on an existing food item. It’s become the main ingredient that draws in customers and keeps them wanting more.
The cannabis food revolution
Cannabis and food have a long, intertwined history as an alternative for those who prefer not to smoke to get all the benefits marijuana can offer. Baked goods, in particular, have always been closely connected for those who want the high without the requirement for smoking or other paraphernalia. But with 33 states now offering medical marijuana as a viable consumer product, in addition to the states in which recreational cannabis is legal, there’s an ever-growing market for all manner of consumer products. Our food is one area in which the legalization process has resulted in a complete transformation.
This change in perception surrounding cannabis, in particular, CBD, has resulted in marijuana being considered the integral product it is today. With that perception and a vastly increased audience has come products that are designed to suit specific niches and consumer tastes. Food is one excellent example of this, with a considerable amount of diversity available between products to suit just about any consumer. Marijuana is no longer a niche or select product in many states. In the same way, vegan products are now an everyday occurrence in many different restaurants and stores; the food itself then has to take on board those varying tastes, lifestyles, and preferences.
This complete flip in the way marijuana is viewed by the public and its conversion from an industry-specific product to a suitable-for-anyone option has enabled the growth of countless artisan and cottage industries surrounding the plant. From cookies to candies, gummies to chocolate bars, many dispensaries now stock edible products as standard alongside their other more traditional options for customers. But when it comes to the more discerning customer, eating cannabis can now be more of an experience than simply a day-to-day event, thanks to the growth in marijuana use in the professional and home cooking industries.
The rise of gourmet cannabis foods
Luxury products for cannabis users have become more and more prevalent since the legalization of cannabis in states such as Colorado and California. Professional gourmet chefs have taken advantage of the opportunity to elevate dishes in the same vein as popular products such as avocado and truffles, taking advantage of the popularity of the product and transforming how marijuana is used into something indulgent and decadent. From cooking oils to cannabis butter, there are many different ways chefs can directly infuse their menus with marijuana, adding an extra layer of luxury to their dishes.
From farm tours to artisan classes, cannabis is being sold as an experience as well as a consumable in many of the USA’s legal states; from weed and wine tours in California to marijuana-themed art classes in Colorado. Cannabis cuisine is an extension of this culture, providing customers with a luxurious experience they can’t achieve at home. While most of us are capable of transforming box brownies with cannabis butter or creating simple THC-infused cookies, when it comes to creating dishes that are both complex and created with the right quantities and taste, that’s best left to the experts.
Putting faith in the pros
Putting your experience into the hands of experts is the ideal choice for many consumers. After all, the public still has limited knowledge about what goes into edible and food-based cannabis products, and how they actually work, with recent studies showing that a lack of information and knowledge can lead to sickness for those creating or eating infused foods without the correct information or proper dosage. For those considering their first experience with cannabis-infused foods, choosing portioned and correctly cooked cuisine can go a long way towards offering a safer environment and more measured reaction.
Unlike traditional cannabis consumption – in which smoking is required to heat the product to the temperature necessary for full effectiveness – cooking with marijuana requires extra diligence to ensure the compounds within the plant are active, allowing for infusion. Known as the decarboxylation process, cannabis is needed to be heated for it to no longer be ‘raw’. However, those interested in the process of heating cannabis are also able to modulate the effects of their final infusions, with over 70% decarboxylation leading to THC being converted in CBN – resulting in a more sedative effect.
This variability and versatility make it possible for professional chefs, or even interested cooks at home, to create genuinely custom high-quality infusions, based on the experience, time, and effort put into the dish. Whether infused in cooking oils, butter, or even coconut oil, marijuana is a highly versatile and effective addition to a wide range of dishes. But it’s not just the high-end cuisine market that’s benefitting from the cannabis boom; it’s also the smaller, artisan and even fast food cooks that are getting in on the trend.
One famous example of food using cannabis extract was the limited-edition Rocky Mountain High Cheeseburger from the popular Carl’s Jr. in Denver, in celebration of 4/20. As one of the locations best-known for its cannabis production and product range, the introduction of fast food infused with cannabis is a novelty now – but is likely to become more and more prevalent as legalization increases across the country.
How America is adapting to the cannabis food revolution
Cannabis has long been its own culture – and as that appeal spreads across new groups of consumers, its properties and appeal have adapted to the environments in which it has become on-trend. California’s cannabis culture, for example, is different to that of Colorado; with far more of a focus on high-trend, wellness-lead restaurants and products, such as marijuana-infused vegan dishes as well as drinks such as locally brewed beer and kombucha. For those who consider themselves experts at cooking in their own home, recipes and detailed information about making cannabis-inclusive products are more prevalent than ever before, and cannabis is becoming a staple in spice racks and pantries across the USA.
From the simple pot brownies of ten years ago to the high-class cuisine and 4/20 fast food rapidly becoming a reality, there’s no doubt that marijuana is a fan favorite when it comes to what we eat. Even our pets are getting in on the action, with CBD-enhanced anxiety products increasingly becoming common for dogs and cats. As we learn more about cannabis news and develop further food-friendly strains, it seems that when it comes to cooking with marijuana, the sky’s the limit.