Curing Cannabis in the High Deserts of New Mexico

Drying and curing your cannabis products is not difficult, but the process can vary depending on where you live. Here in New Mexico we are high and dry – about a mile high and often with single digit humidity, so curing cannabis is quite different than places like the the Pacific Northwest, where I’m sure they never have 10 or 20% humidity, never mind single digits.

cannabis dryingI share my own cannabis curing experience here and it’s is by no means the only way, but for us it worked very well. Our crop was an outdoor crop and the initial part if the cure was done in a drying shed, but you can just use a closet or spare room for the first part if you are doing it indoors. The key is to keep checking, checking, checking. Things can dry out quickly in our arid climate. Because I’ve had some questions lately from friends regarding drying their cannabis plants, I thought I’d share this now. This post was originally a letter written to a friend in Arizona.

Hi Janie! You and I are lucky to live in the desert, where mold won’t usually be a problem for us. We harvested at the end of September. We cut down the plants and started by hanging them upside down on a line of cotton twine in a locked shed for about a week. We hung them with plenty of space around them to ensure air circulation. This initial dry time can vary a little, but time-up can be determined when a medium sized branch will snap when bent in half.
A slower dry time is desired, and that can be the hard part in our desert climate. We actually trimmed off a small budded branch a few weeks before to test how long it would take to dry out in the open. (I highly recommend doing that.) What about trimming? We didn’t trim the plants first, and that was because we had house guests. Bad planning on our part. (Don’t do that.) It’s harder to do later, although it still was a fun time.

Hand Trimmed Cannabis flower budsAfter passing the snapped branch test, we brought them in, spread them out on a tablecloth and began the trim session. It took a long time. Crank up the music and get to work. Have extra scissors on hand, (and be sure to scrape and save the sticky residue on them for later). Do that often along the way during your trimming party. For final cleanup, isopropyl alcohol works well. As mentioned before, at this point the larger stems could crack and snap apart, the smaller flower bud stems should still be a tad bit more limber. This is perfect for the next step.

Next was the curing….and this is even more important. We cured in 2 quart tupperware type tubs that were sterilized and thoroughly dried, especially the seals. We filled the containers loosely leaving LOTS of air, and burped them daily letting out the old air, sniff checking for bad odors of mold or ammonia, and letting in new air. We did this for nearly three weeks, or until the bud stems would snap easily. Then we sorted the flower buds more carefully and put in sterilized mason-type jars. The process went perfectly and I am soooo glad to live in an area with a dry climate.

cannabis before curing

Cannabis flower buds before curing. Gentle handling will ensure that most of the trichomes will stay intact. We don’t over trim because so many of the bud leaves are coated with sugary looking trichomes. Click photo for a better look at the trichomes.

Cured cannabis

Cannabis 18 months after curing. Still smells sweet, still a bit spongy and still smokes smooth. Click to enlarge photo and see the trichomes still present and intact.

Now, every time we open a jar the aroma is unbelievable and the buds are perfectly spongy. Dry enough to smoke yet wet enough you can squeeze them and they don’t crumble to dust.

On a side note…my husband was not as careful a trimmer as I, and the jars of the buds he trimmed have a grape-like scent and taste. The stuff I processed smells quite different, more lemony. Mine taste more floral and citrus-like.

I don’t think people realize the importance of curing cannabis properly. It make a big, serious difference in the final product. I truly believe that what is out there on the black market is named for whatever it ends up looking, smelling and tasting like, and there isn’t much integrity there. AND great genetics matter not if you’re gonna fudge it along the way with bad nutrients, pestcides and improper curing. We have NO idea of the genetics of our volunteer seed that came from a bag of dispensary purchased trim, but what we got was heaven sent, and heavenly scented! It was also free of pesticides and residuals from chemical nutrients. Win-win!

That was in September of 2013. We have just tapped into the last jar of this bud, the first we had grown in 33 years. May there be many more just like it and better. Because of the good curing as well as proper storage out of  light and extreme temperatures, here we are in February 2015, continuing to enjoying these buds which are are still quite spongy, fragrant, potent and delicious. Just what the doctor ordered!

Like I said before, this post is MY experience. Please feel free to comment on your experience drying and curing cannabis in New Mexico! Bon appetit!




    • I have always understood that taking more time to cure is preferable, but if you can do it in 8 days, that’s great for you!

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