A Quick Guide to Using CBD or Terpenes for Infused Food & Beverages

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If you’re looking to take advantage of cannabis compounds and their documented medicinal and therapeutic potential by incorporating them in home cooking, this is the beginner-friendly guide for you. Unlike cannabis itself, non-psychoactive extracts such as cannabidiol (CBD) and terpenes are legal practically everywhere, and have been spicing up the menus in pubs, restaurants and even family homes for years as of this writing.

Northern Lights, for instance, is one of my favourite terpene strains to use and a natural choice when cooking thanks to its stress-relieving effects and sweet, earthy flavor. However, cannabis compounds are surprisingly easy to misuse, or even put to waste when handled improperly in the kitchen.

Let’s go over brief introductions to both CBD and terpenes, how they can enhance a variety of food items and two best practices for using them in your own kitchen when preparing food or drinks.

What is CBD?

CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t induce a “high,” but has been shown to have a number of therapeutic benefits — a discovery that has prompted years of medical research into its viability in treating symptoms of anxiety and mood disorders.

CBD can be herbaceous, bold or virtually tasteless depending on whether you use isolate, powder or shatter, which are the three most commonly utilised CBD concentration formats in preparing food. For best results, use isolate in dips or dressing; powder in infused beers or bitters like red beet smoothies, and dissolved shatter in sweets such as pudding or toast spread.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are naturally occurring aromatic compounds found not only in cannabis but in all plant life, and even in some insects. Terpenes each impart their own scents and flavors — as well as an impressive range of therapeutic benefits including analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects — into anything they’re infused in. This includes food, beverages, and even vape oils.

Because of their sheer variety of distinctive tangs, terpenes can be used in just about anything; from martinis to cheesecake icing. This is the main reason for their incredible popularity within the restaurant, bar and nightclub industries in recent years.

Best Practices for Infused Homemade Food & Beverages

It’s worth noting that the isolation processes for producing quality CBD and terpenes are complex, expensive and exacting. For this reason, avoid cooking or heating either of the two as you risk losing potency. At most, incorporate your CBD or terpenes into mixtures at temperatures where they are warm to the touch — such as in the preparation of a ganache.

Terpenes are generally best worked into uncooked complementary mixtures like salad dressing, vinaigrettes and frosting. CBD has more versatility, and is regularly used by craft beer brewers as well as DIY vapers.

More importantly, be sure to keep track of  dosage sizes as well as product potency, particularly when infusing CBD. By law, this information must be readily available on all CBD and terpene product labels. Not all CBD products are created equal, so it’s crucial not to overdo your CBD dosage per serving.