Although new hemp growers might think that proper cultivation and harvest is the end of it, more experienced ones will say that drying hemp flower is equally as important. The hard work is not over after the flowers are harvested, and you need to wait a little longer to enjoy the products you have.
Before it is ready to use, hemp flowers have to undergo a long and intricate process of drying and curing.
Before you can try smoking the freshly-harvested hemp buds, they need to dry first. And that process can be prolonged, depending on whether you are going to go with the drying period alone or both the drying and curing period.
Both processes are quite similar to the same purpose of removing the moisture of the hemp flower, but the process is a little bit different.
But first, find out why drying the hemp properly, which means not doing it instantly or as quickly as possible, is important in terms of getting the most out of your finished product.
Hemp has naturally occurring compounds that gradually increase potency even after harvest. Keeping them in 45% to 55% humidity level and between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit will allow the buds to continue its process of gaining potency, while quick-drying the buds under dry and warm conditions will halt this process quickly, producing a less potent product.
The terpene components in hemp flowers are what give it its flavor and aroma, but they can be very volatile. But, a slow but steady drying process of the bud will help in terpene preservation compared to a hot and quick drying process. This way, the product will be as tasteful and distinct-smelling.
The conditions of drying hemp flower also affect the quality of smoke. With a drawn-out drying process, it helps leftover minerals and sugars in the hemp flower to break down and decompose. These excess minerals and sugars are what’s causing the throat-burning and harsh sensation when smoking hemp flowers.
The correct way of drying hemp flower takes time, and it helps preserve the product so it can be stored in long periods without any worry of loss of cannabinoids or molds.
There are a lot of ways to dry and cure hemp flower. Some do it old-school, while other growers use new techniques and machinery. But, let’s focus on the easiest and surest way of drying hemp flower from your harvest.
Once your hemp flowers are harvested, cleaned, and trimmed, they are now ready for the initial drying process. The simplest way to do this is to remove unwanted leaves from your buds and hang them upside down using a string or wire. You can also use drying racks if you have those.
Regardless of what technique you prefer during this drying process, it is important to keep the buds in the dark room with a temperature ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a 45% to 55% humidity. A small fan in the room will also help with air circulation.
Making sure that the conditions in the drying room will stay the same is crucial in preserving the aroma and flavor of the hemp buds.
The next process once an ample amount of moisture in the buds have evaporated, it’s time for the longest period you have to wait before your buds are ready for smoking. This long-winding process is called curing. It involves keeping the mostly dry hemp flowers in an air-tight container. You can either use metal, plastic, wood or ceramic containers depending on your preference.
Once you’ve filled the container without crushing the buds, you need to seal it and place the containers in dry, cool, and dark room. In this process, the buds will lose their initial crunch from the initial drying process, and the moisture it still has inside will rehydrate some portions of the flower. Opening the containers several times a day in the first week and once every couple of days the following week will help the moisture inside the containers escape and replenish the oxygen inside.
The drying time will largely depend on the size of the hem buds, but usually, it takes about seven to 12 days.
Once your buds are crisp, and the branch will snap when you try to bend it, then it’s dry enough and ready to be cured.
Unlike the drying process, the curing period will usually take around four to eight weeks to get the most aroma and flavor of your buds.
You can store your dried hemp buds in the same container you used for curing, although you don’t have to check it regularly anymore.
The process of drying hemp flower can be drawn-out, but it is necessary for achieving the best properties for your harvest in terms of cannabinoid and terpene profile, aroma, flavor, and the quality of smoke.