Culture

Monica Lo Teaches Us How To Make Sous Vide Cannabis-Infused Olive Oil And Introduce THC Into Our Cooking

One of the skills we’ve all collectively leveled up the quickest since being in lockdown is our ability to make a great meal at home. Foccacia, fried chicken, gourmet ramen — you name it, we’ve all more or less become our own favorite personal chefs out of necessity. Now, as part of our continued quest to improve ourselves (we’ll need these new skills for dating in a post-COVID-19 world), we’re going to learn how to infuse THC into every meal in an effort to “elevate” our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

When it comes to the world of DIY THC infusion, there simply isn’t a better person to talk to than Monica Lo. She’s the founder of Sous Weed — a blog dedicated to using cannabis as a secret superfood ingredient in your home kitchen by providing detailed recipes on how to make everything from eggs benedict to seasonal cocktails, both of which will get you as high as you want/need them to get you. Chef Lo specializes in sous vide cannabis extraction which essentially unlocks an entire kitchen pantry to THC-infusion, and through Sous Weed she passes on that knowledge to help give her readers the skills they need to get cooking, whether they’re beginners or tried and true enthusiasts.

In addition to pioneering her own sous vide extraction method, Chef Lo also acts as the creative director and photographer for Sous Weed, which has the look of a digital cookbook. To help get you started on your THC-infused journey, we connected with Monica Lo while in lockdown and she offered advice on finding the right dose, how to make your own THC-infused olive oil, and offered us recipes for some seriously delicious-looking dishes.

Sous Weed is a blog that encourages people to make their own cannabis-infused edibles at home. Why is putting that power into our hands important to you?

My goal with Sous Weed is to empower people to make their own infusions at home. Given the current pandemic situation, it might be challenging to get to a dispensary to stock up on your medicine. With rising unemployment rates and high prices due to licensing costs and taxes, it’s more economic to grow-your-own (in legal states) and to make-your-own edibles. With new state regulations on lower dosages, people who need stronger doses for medical purposes might not be able to find what they need in stores.

When you do-it-yourself, it’s easier to make healthy edibles and to customize the dosage to personal needs.

You came up with your sous vide method of cannabis extraction out of necessity, can you shed some light on that, and how the process of THC extraction via sous vide works?

Sous Weed was born from a need for discreet edibles when I had herniated a disc and the painkillers my doctor prescribed wreaked havoc on my system. I lived in a strict apartment building where smoke and cannabis smells were prohibited. As the former creative director of a sous vide startup, I thought, “well, maybe I can sous vide my weed?”—and it worked!
It was so simple. All I needed to do was fill a jar with cannabis and oil and drop it underwater to cook. There’s no smell whatsoever and I didn’t get evicted. I started to document my creations on my blog, as I was healing, and that’s how Sous Weed came to life.

Why sous vide? We have a food writer here who also swears by them.

Precise temperature control — babysitting a stovetop or slow-cooker is no longer necessary. You can set it and forget it. No fear of evictions: It’s completely aroma-free during the infusion process. Simple to infuse fats, oils, and alcohol. Save time and resources — you can make multiple infusions at once.

In your opinion, why are home-made edibles so much better than those found at a dispensary?

When you make your own infusions at home, like olive oil, for example, it’s simple to work into your everyday meals. I didn’t want to have to eat a chocolate bar or a pot brownie every time I needed pain relief. By filling my kitchen pantry with a variety of homemade infused oils, I could easily medicate myself during mealtimes. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of delicious edibles out in the market that I enjoy. But in my humble opinion, fresh is best.

How do you go about dosing, and how much control do you have over the potency?

Short answer? There are so many variables with the cannabis strains, oil you use, heat fluctuations, etc… that the only way to know for sure is to get your homemade infusion lab tested. That takes a lot of money and time but we can estimate.

To get a better sense of your dosaging, make sure you purchase cannabis that has been lab-tested. The percentage of cannabinoids should be listed on the package.

The gentle cooking temperatures of the sous vide method means that various cannabinoids, delicate terpenes, and aromas are left intact, making edibles that are delicious and true to the strain that you’ve chosen, rather than burnt and acrid. When the multitude of cannabinoids and terpenes from that particular strain are infused into your oil, they work together to boost the effectiveness of each medicinal compound in what we call the “entourage effect.”

What are some dosing guidelines for people who have no knowledge of calculating a proper dose for themselves?

Edibles are a low barrier to entry — everyone eats! As a beginner, I recommend starting with two to five mg and waiting up to two hours for full effects. That’s how you get a sense of your tolerance level. Have water and snacks around. Take a walk, write, relax in a bath, or enjoy being in your happy place.

While you can’t overdose, it’s uncomfortable when you’ve consumed too much. You might get dizzy, feel heavy, or get paranoid. None of that is fun so I keep a CBD tincture on hand in case that happens. For many people, CBD will help counteract the psychoactivity of THC and balance you out.

What is an easy cannabis-infused recipe for first-timers to attempt?

I would start with a simple Sous Weed Olive Oil because it lends itself so well to so many recipes! It’s incredibly easy with a sous vide machine but it’s ok if you don’t have one! I have a basic stove-top recipe as well — it’s just a smellier process. Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to olive oil or butter though! Some of my favorite recipes include infused sesame oil, lard, coconut oil, honey, vodka, and more!

Just like the cannabis-infused butter, it’s super easy to infuse cannabis into your olive oil with the sous vide technique. Since you can fit many mason jars in a sous vide water bath, imagine the all the different flavored oil concoctions you can whip up all in one sitting! This technique is simple and discreet–no smell! You can just set it and forget it.

RECIPE: How to make 16 oz Sous Vide Cannabis-Infused Olive Oil

Ingredients:

• 2 cups (16 oz) extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 oz cannabis trim or flowers*, roughly crushed

Directions:

  1. Decarb your cannabis to activate the THC.
  2. Pour olive oil and add decarboxylated cannabis into a large 24 oz mason jar. Seal the jar finger tight. It’s important to use heat-tempered jars specific to canning, so please, no repurposed mayo jars. A large freezer-safe zip bag or silicone sous vide bag may be used as well.
  3. Set your sous vide water bath to 85ºC (185ºF). Once the sous vide water bath has reached its temp, gently place the jar (or bag) in the water bath. Sous vide for 4 hours.
  4. Carefully remove from water bath and strain out the solids. Discard the used flower and allow the infused olive oil to cool. Store in a cool dark place.

To Consume:

The dosage of cannabis olive oil specified in this recipe is a loose suggestion. Dosing homemade edibles can be tricky, so the best way to test for potency is to start with one portion of a serving, in this case, one teaspoon, and wait one to two hours, then make an informed decision on whether to consume more. You can always add non-infused olive oil if the infusion is too strong.

Always dose carefully and listen to your body, and never drive under the influence of cannabis. Keep out of reach of children.

*Note: You can add more or less cannabis flower depending on desired potency.


What’s a cannabis-infused dessert recipe we need to try?

I didn’t have a sweet-tooth until adulthood and I’ve been craving sugar especially during the pandemic! These days, I turn to a sweet treat for comfort and I keep cookie dough in the freezer in case of emergencies. One of the best things I’ve made recently is a Cannabis-Infused Basque Cheesecake, infused with medicated honey. It’s got a deeply caramelized top with a silky, lava-like center. So heavenly.

What’s one of your favorite cannabis dishes to prepare, and why?

I have a Spicy Sichuan Wonton recipe that I love. I’ll usually pick a gassy, garlicky smelling strain of cannabis to infuse into the sesame oil and make a chili sauce out of it. It’s a great meal or an afternoon snack and it reminds me of my childhood making dumplings and wontons with my mom.

Any cannabis-infused cocktail recipes we need to try?

I have a Bloody Mary Jane recipe on my blog that I use all the time and it’s chock-full of charred tomatoes and jalapeños. Smoky and delicious. I also have a recipe for Cannabis-Infused Bitters to use for all your cocktail needs.

What excites you about the cannabis culinary scene right now, and where do you expect to see it go in the near future?

There are a lot of cannabis chefs creating exciting food on social media. Unfortunately with legal issues and our current regulations, it’s difficult to bring to the masses. DIY, at-home-for-personal-use is the way to go right now but I hope to see more cannabis restaurants and cafes pop up in California when the pandemic is over. I would also love to see cannabis and edibles at local farmer’s markets in the future.

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