What Does Curing Mean?
In horticulture, curing is a process that involves aging dried plant material in order to fine-tune the moisture content and allow for breakdown of sugars and chlorophyll before consumption. Many plants are cured, such as cannabis, hemp, sagebrush, bay leaves, tea leaves, and tobacco.
In cannabis cultivation, the curing process makes for a cleaner, smoother smoke, enhanced flavor and potency, and other desired characteristics. When done properly, curing also ensures the bud has reached a moisture level that will not allow mold and other pathogens to thrive.
Curing also encompasses a variety of food preservation and flavoring methods, especially for foods like meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
Maximum Yield Explains Curing
Curing can involve different processes for different types of plants. For instance, some plants require a two step process that involves drying, and then curing, such as cannabis.
Some plants can also be sun-cured, which entails hanging the plants in the full sun to dry. Heat can also be used to cure plants. The leaves are hung on sticks and exposed to low heat. Great care is taken not to have smoke or fire near the leaves during the curing process.
Some types of tea leaves must be exposed to heat during curing so that they oxidize and become sweet.
Curing time varies depending on humidity, the type of plant involved, and the water content of the plant at the time it is harvested. There are a few different methods of drying and curing plants, but it all cases, environmental control and the duration of the drying period are what ultimately lead to a quality product.
In cannabis cultivation, most growers do not consider their bud ideal for use until it has been aged or cured in a cool, dark place.
Before the curing process begins, cannabis must be properly dried. One method of achieving this is placing them in a sealed brown paper bag and placing it in a dark room or closet for a week or more. White paper or plastic should not be used for drying because this encourages mold growth that can ruin the harvest. Larger scale growers often use boxes in order to dry large amounts of buds, but caution should be taken with this method to ensure proper air circulation.
When the buds are ready to be cured, they are usually placed in a glass jar. Once a jar is around two-thirds full, the lid will be placed on loosely. The curing buds require some air to assist the natural breakdown of sugars and chlorophyll. A grower may periodically remove the lid to release excess moisture, known as "burping". Humidity packs can also be used to adjust the moisture level inside the jars.
During the curing process, the jars must be checked often for any signs of mold or mildew. A strong ammonia smell is an early indication that the buds were too moist and have begun to spoil. The jar should be periodically emptied and repacked to ensure proper curing.
Generally, buds need to be cured for a few weeks in the jars, but some producers prefer a longer curing process. This will make the smoke smoother by reducing the amount of chlorophyll that is still present in green buds. The longer the buds are cured, the smoother the smoking is. A longer curing process doesn’t hurt the bud, but it does increase the opportunity for mold to appear.
(To learn more, check out our articles on curing.)