Cannabis-infused foods and beverages: The new flavor

We have known the traditional joint and bong, with evolution in the industry we now have cannabis vaporization. But have you tasted cannabis-infused foods and beverages?

Cannabis-infused foods which are also known as cannabis-edibles, are food products that contain cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Another term for cannabis-infused drink is drinkable cannabis. However both foods and beverages with cannabis flavor are usually termed as edibles.

Most edibles contain considerable amount of THC that give sensation of ‘high’ and effects like relaxation, fatigue, euphoria and anxiety. The consumption of this category of foods are for recreational and medical purposes.

However the consumption of edibles containing smaller amounts of THC but higher CBD are for medical purposes only.

Foods and beverages infused from non-psychoactive cannabis are also termed as hemp foods.

Cannabis infused foods and beverages in the Indian Culture

Cannabis has been present in culinary culture since a long time ago, more prominently in India. Around 1,000 BC the Hindus in the Indian subcontinent prepared foods and drinks with bhang (a cannabis-infused Indian beverage like bhang lassi and bhang thandai).

 The consumption of bhang is especially during the Hindu festival ‘holi’. As per the sanskrit recipes before mixing the cannabis with other ingredients it has to be sautéed in ghee .
Traditional bhang shop in India
The cannabis infused mixture was used for both medicinal and spiritual purposes.  If bhang was taken in proper quantity it was believed that it could help to cure fever phlegm, digestion problem and alleviate Arthritis.

Modern culinary culture and cannabis

Alice B. Toklas, with the contribution of her artist friend Brion Gysin introduced cannabis-infused foods in modern culinary culture in her publication The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book

In this book she shared the recipe of a haschich fudge. However the cake was more a sort of smashed raw ball than a baked fudge. To prepare the mixture you had to mash cinnamon stocks, coriander, black peppercorns, almonds, peanuts, dried figs and cannabis sativa.

It was then mixed with butter and sugar and cut into pieces, hence giving it the texture of a traditional brownie.

The hippie culture accentuated the misunderstanding of brownie pot through the movie I Love You Alice B. Toklas by actor Peter Sellers. He played a lawyer who after eating haschich brownie on his wedding day, left his bride to run away with a hippie girl.

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book
The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book

This is how the ‘pot brownie’ erroneously became notorious in counterculture and hence as the ideal food to add cannabis. 

It is difficult to estimate if eating cannabis edibles provide the same effect as smoking. There is a process known as decarboxylation, where Tetrahydrocannabinol (THCA) is converted into THC through heating. Decarboxylation can happen both while cooking or smoking cannabis .

It is interesting to note that  natural(raw) cannabis does not contain a consequent amount of THC.

Cannabis cooking in gastronomy

Nowadays cannabis-infused foods are not only the ‘pot brownie’ or gummies, but it has also moved onto dinner tables.

 Many gourmet chefs have mastered the concept of cannabis-infused foods and the process of decarboxylation. This resulted in cannabis present in gastronomic foods like in lamb with Bordelaise sauce or a carpaccio of charred octopus.

 

Cannabutter
Cannabutter: Blend of cannabis and butter used to make edibles

The presence of cannabis in mainstream cooking has led to many cannabis-infused foods derivatives like the cannabutter, sugar, cooking oil, chocolates, hot sauce and honey. We also have it in beverages like sparkling waters, beers and even coffee.

It is important to note that cannabis cooking requires a good knowledge of the decarboxylation process. This is because if there is a wrong dosage or an inadequate temperature when heating the cannabis flower, it will not unlock its psychoactive elements. At worst it will damage the bud completely.

Sales of edibles has impressive increased in U.S states where cannabis has become legal. The growing concern is that children and unknowledgeable consumers can easily eat/drink too much edibles without knowing they are ingesting cannabis-infused foods and beverages. 

Furthermore there have been many claims since 2008 of dog poisoning due to ingestion of edibles.

The future of cannabis-infused foods and beverages industry

Cannabis-infused foods and beverages are gaining popularity as they are a new way of exploration for recreational users. The pleasure that gourmet foods provide is being magnified with the cannabis flavor and its ‘high’ effects. It is obviously a potential billion dollar industry which is luring many multinational companies to invest heavily in research and development.

With more countries gradually legalizing cannabis, it is certain that edibles will become presents further than in the counterculture. Maybe it can be the catalyst that will make cannabis more acceptable in different cultures as a soft way for therapeutic and recreational usage.