Curing: The secret the industry doesn't want you to know

Posted by Happy Leaves on

If a customer walked into a fine wine store and asked for the “freshest” red available, they would surely get a confused look — if not a hearty laugh from the staff.

As with many of the finer things in life — wine, steaks, caviar, to name a few — age is beauty. The longer these things are cured, the more flavorful and attractive they become.
“The list goes on and on about what time does to the essence of things that smell and taste good,” said John Andrle, owner of L’Eagle Services.

As simple as the importance of long-curing is to understand for these foods and drinks, it’s a hush-hush topic in the marijuana industry in Colorado. No, it’s not because it’s a top secret recipe that dispensaries or growers don’t want to share; it’s quite the opposite actually. Because nobody else in the state besides L’Eagle is long-curing, nobody wants to talk about it and make it a selling point.

“From a producer and seller standpoint, every single thing about curing costs you money, costs you time — and we know time is money,” Andrle said. “It’s inventory that’s unsellable. You will be hard-pressed to find a producer or a seller that will extol the virtues of curing. At best they minimize it.”

If it sounds like Andrle and L’Eagle — a boutique dispensary and grow in central Denver — are fighting an uphill battle against the industry heavyweights, they are. To call it a cannabis David versus Goliath is not hyperbole. The Andrle’s — John and his wife, Amy — are a beacon of independence in a sea of conglomerates.

“Not only do lots of people not know about (curing), but unfortunately the education is slanted from the sellers’ and producers’ standpoint,” he said. “The more moisture content that’s in a bud, the more it weighs. And pot is sold by weight, so there’s so many angles. Pot smokes and tastes best dry, not slightly moist or a tad spongy. Think about what moisture does to things: it rusts cars, molds bread... the Grand Canyon is a mile deep hole in solid rock as a result of water.” Despite the fact that long-curing is less cost-effective, Andrle has been searching for this type of marijuana for decades. He recalls the days of Colorado “kind bud”, well before medical or recreational marijuana was close to a reality.

“Everyone grew great flowers,” Andrle said. “It was the curing that separated the really good from the best of the best.”This is the strategy he carried into his own marijuana venture — L’Eagle does all its own production. Why settle for less than the best just because all the competitors are?

Every flower at L’Eagle is long-cured for a standard 90-to-100 days with the rare exception being when the demand is so high for a certain strain that the store has to put it on the shelf 60 days after harvest. While it’s curing, the buds spend that time sitting in airtight containers in a lightless room at 65-68 degrees. Andrle is quick to note that his curing process won’t begin until the moisture content of the bud is in single digits. From this point the longer the product sits, the more plant matter dissipates, while all the good stuff (the terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids — THC, CBD, CBG, etc) remains.

Andrle is baffled by new commentary from various marijuana “experts” arguing against long-curing or that there is a precious window of time for consuming. “I love grinding a bud that’s a year old and putting it in my PAX (hand held vaporizer),” he said. “As long as it’s stored in a cool and dark place, it is the truest essence of a strain. The resin that houses all these elements is not time or air soluble.”However, all the effort can be reversed with just a bit of exposure.  “Light and heat destroy everything that I’m talking about,” Andrle said. “So if somebody buys our pot and leaves it in the glove compartment of their car on a 100-degree July day, all our efforts for perfection are compromised.”

If a customer wants to experience the best flavors — which is something Andrle and his grow staff pride themselves on — he suggests smoking with a flower vaporizer for the truest taste. The longer the cure, the less chlorophyll and less plant matter exist, which ultimately improves the flavor. The L’Eagle owner notes that some of the world’s best breeders won’t touch their own marijuana until it’s cured for years (At the High Times Cannabis Cup in Denver in 2014, DJ Short told an audience that he won’t even smoke his own herb unless it’s been cured in a copper urn for three years). While Andrle doesn’t have the time to go to those lengths, he hopes consumers will begin to appreciate the difference with the product coming from his grow — time equals taste.

“For people that know and people that are passionate about marijuana and have been for years, curing is a no-brainer,” Andrle said.

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