Cooking with Cannabis: Interview with flir Founder, Riley Starr

Want to ensure you’re in the holiday spirit? Try cooking with cannabis to add a bit more jolly in your laugh and red in your cheeks. For a light-hearted celebration, you can infuse a range of cannabinoids and terpenes into classic Christmas dishes. The trick, according to flir founder Riley Starr, is to keep it simple.

What is the appeal of making your own edibles, or infusing cannabis into a dish?

Riley: I think it's just an extension of why we love to prepare any kind of food for others: it's a way of showing love by offering a sensory and emotional experience of our own creation.

The cannabis experience is nothing if not sensory and emotional, and crafting a treat that welcomes somebody into that world is profound in its own way.

Any stories to share of utter failures you've had while experimenting with cooking with cannabis?

Riley: I was visiting my partner's friends in Boston a few years back, and someone had a bit of flower they wanted to turn into edibles. I somehow got the notion that I was a master of the baking arts, and tried to make a maple buttercream to frost some cupcakes. I'd never made buttercream frosting in my life--or any kind of frosting for that matter. I turned into a greasy lump that was barely edible. Not my finest hour in the kitchen.

Three common mistakes newbies make when cooking with cannabis:

Cooking with raw cannabis

Heat is necessary to activate the THC and/or CBD in cannabis. It’s a process called decarboxylation. 

Getting the results you want is quite simple:

Start by preheating your oven to 120°C.

Spread your ground weed on a cookie sheet and pop it in the oven for one hour.

Stir the bud every 15 minutes to activate the compounds.

Grinding your cannabis into dust

If you pulverize your flower with a food processor, you might end with an overwhelming earthy flavour, and turn your oil or butter an unpleasant shade of green. Our suggestion is to use a coarse grinder.

Not testing along the way 

There are certain liberties one can take when cooking at home. Like making any other delicious recipe in your home kitchen, it’s fun to taste-test along the way. But, there is another reason you’ll want to check on your edibles, oil, or butter. Potency! Before you cook, ensure you’re not going to be catapulted to the moon with the smallest drizzle. 

Take a small spoonful and wait an hour. 

Let's end with a recipe for someone to follow to put their newfound knowledge to practice! Any that you'd like to share? 

Riley: I think a flavoured oil is perfect to infuse with cannabis. It's easy to measure out precisely, and it can add a kick of flavour and THC to pretty much any savory dish.

Here's a simple formula for a delicious chili oil:

- Pick a chili that you can get both fresh and dried. Fresh jalapenos with dried chipotles is a great combo; so are Chinese chiu chow peppers if you can get your hands on them.

- Use a small food processor to puree seven or eight jalapenos (or other fresh chili), then about a head's worth of garlic cloves, keeping them seperate.

- Start with about half a cup of neutral oil (peanut or vegetable oil work well) heating in a saucepan.

- Add the garlic puree, and let it simmer and slowly brown in the hot oil for about fifteen minutes.

- Then add your fresh chili paste, and keep simmering for another ten minutes or so. Just keep an eye on the heat to avoid burning.

- In a separate dry pan, toast your dry chilis (about a half dozen chipotle-sized chilis should do) until they get fragrant.

- Pulse them in a clean food processor or blender until the pieces of chili flesh are no bigger than the seeds.

- Add your shredded dry chilis to the simmering oil, along with about a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt.

- Top it all off with another half cup of oil. Bring it back to a simmer for just a couple of minutes.

Strain the finished oil. Blend in a concentrated oil tincture of cannabis to get just the right strength for your needs.