Cannabis-infused food is one of the most popular means of consuming cannabis for many good reasons. On the surface, these are delicious treats that can be brought and eaten anytime, anywhere – and discreetly too. More importantly, unlike smoking and vaping, it does not induce coughing fits nor introduce harmful substances to the body.
Edibles are available in specialized stores. Due to one reason or another, it is not accessible to most people though. Hence, the next best option is to make some at home. One obvious benefit is cost-savings. For many, though, going DIY allows for infinite flexibility in the type of food, its taste, and potency. Furthermore, it becomes possible to add ingredients such as sunflower lecithin that effectively boosts the effects and therapeutic properties.
Sunflower Lecithin As A Food Additive
Lecithin is a class of fatty acids naturally found in many plants and animal sources. Commercial lecithin, in particular, typically comes from eggs, soy, canola, cottonseed, and sunflower seeds.
When utilized as an additive in making canna-edibles, it offers several benefits:
Emulsify. Lecithin has hydrophilic (water soluble) and hydrophobic (oil soluble) regions that make it possible to bind immiscible liquids like water and oil together. As an emulsifier, for example, it helps the oil-based cannabutter containing THC, CBD, and other compounds adhere to the water-based sugar and cocoa when making brownies or cakes and thereby prevent crumbling.
Extend Shelf Life. Lecithin inhibits fat and water segregation. Thus, there is less likelihood of mold and mildew formation. Consequently, it prolongs the shelf life of the edibles.
Uniform Dosage. In keeping substances such as water and fats dispersed and close together, Lecithin helps in a more balanced distribution of cannabinoids and terpenes in the edibles. As a result, the dosage of each portion is more consistent with each other.
Increase Potency and Effects. Phospholipids, such as lecithin, improve the bioavailability of cannabinoids. As a result of better absorption, the body metabolizes more cannabinoids and terpenes thus increasing the potency and effects of the edible – be it recreational, medical, or both. At the same time, it also decreases the duration of the presence of these compounds in the body.
Added Health Benefits. Lecithin is widely-used as a dietary supplement primarily due to choline – that may aid in promoting better liver function, lower cholesterol levels, and fight acne. Furthermore, it appears that its emulsifying property helps in digestive well-being. Adding lecithin to edibles thereby introduces more health benefits.
Lecithin has numerous sources. Choosing a derivative of sunflower has merits when making cannabis-infused food:
- The extraction method used does not entail the use of solvents such as in the case of soy. Hence, there is no risk of chemical contaminants.
- Of the eight food that accounts for 90% of food allergies, soybeans and eggs are two. In essence, lecithin derived from sunflower affect fewer people.
- Most sunflower is not genetically-modified and grown organically. Hence, it does not pose the concerned raised by GMO plant sources.
Preparing Cannabis-Infused Oil With Sunflower Lecithin
Next to butter, the most used ingredient that makes it possible to bind the fat-soluble cannabinoids are oils derived from coconut. Others are canola and olive.
Among the different oils, coconut is the most preferred due to its reported health benefits. As a binding agent, it has a high amount of saturated fat and thus retains more cannabinoids. Even better, it is also inexpensive and widely available.
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 1/4 oz of cannabis bud
- 1 teaspoon of sunflower lecithin
- Glass pyrex or any oven-safe ceramic ware
- Aluminum foil
- Mesh coffee filter or cheesecloth
- Pre-heat the oven to 101°C (215°F).
- Grind or trim the herbs to coarse particles and distribute evenly into the ceramic dish. Wrap with aluminum foil making sure to tuck around the edges.
- Put the dish in the oven for 30 minutes. This process decarboxylates the cannabis in which inactive cannabinoids turn into active THC and CBD.
- After 30 minutes, remove the dish and let it cool. Do not remove the foil nor turn off the oven.
- Add coconut oil in a pan on low heat.
- Remove the foil from the dish. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of sunflower lecithin uniformly over the cannabis materials. Next, pour the coconut oil then mix well.
- Cover the dish once again with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
- Remove the dish from the oven without turning it off and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Once the temperature is comfortable enough to touch, remove the cover and mash the herb with a spoon to break down the trichomes further, and allow the oil to absorb more cannabinoids and other compounds.
- Add another 1/2 teaspoon of sunflower lecithin and mix well.
- Cover the dish once again with aluminum foil and place in the oven for another 45 minutes.
- Once done, remove the dish and let it sit and cool. Turn off the over as it is no longer needed.
- After cooling down, put the dish in the freezer for at least two hours. Then, take it out and let it defrost at room temperature.
- In preparation for separating the oil, heating it in the oven just enough helps in thinning the mixture and thus allow for easier straining.
- Strain the oil by decanting it over a strainer, such as a mesh coffee filter or cheesecloth. Press the herbs with a spoon to fully extract the oil.
- The coconut cannabis oil with sunflower lecithin is now ready for use.
The suggested oil to cannabis ratio is 2:1. As for adding sunflower lecithin to edible mixtures, typically, a teaspoon of the emulsifier should be used for every cup of oil.
It is possible that the consistency may not be just right the first time. If the texture is lacking, add a bit more lecithin in the next batch. On the other hand, if the sunflower flavor is quite noticeable, then add a little less lecithin the next time.
Putting It All Together
The coconut canna-oil (or other oils) with lecithin is a versatile ingredient. It is an excellent add-on to an assortment of treats such as cookies, chocolate brownies, and peanut butter.
The recommended dosage is half a teaspoon of the cannabis-infused oil per serving (1/2 cup of oil = 24 teaspoons or 48 doses).
Whichever recipe, it is helpful to determine the number of servings first. Then, estimate accordingly so that each portion utilizes the equivalent of half a teaspoon of the canna-oil.
For reference on the amount of cannabis oil required:
- 8 cookies: 4 teaspoons (1/12 cup)
- 16 brownies: 8 teaspoons (1/6 cup)
- 24 peanut butter cups: 12 teaspoons (1/4 cup)
In cases where the recipe requires a certain amount of butter, stick to the ratio above and compensate for the remaining amount with regular butter or vegetable oil. For example, if half a cup of butter is needed, use six teaspoons (1/8 cup) of the cannabis oil, then pour in some vegetable oil or butter to make up for the rest.
Keep in mind, however, that it is not required to follow the dosage strictly. It can be tweaked depending on individual needs and preferences.
Sunflower Lecithin Makes Edibles Better
Cannabis edibles, by itself, are packed to the brim with benefits. By adding lecithin, the absorption of the cannabinoids is faster and better and thus results in enhanced experience and higher therapeutic efficacy.
Choosing the source of the lecithin, much like in determining ingredients for regular food, necessitates a consideration of some factors. The most common is soybeans. However, it is among the top allergens among all types of food, and because it is genetically modified, particular health risks might come into play. Sunflower does not have these concerns. Moreover, the mechanical method of lecithin extraction ensures that no potentially chemical residues somehow find its way into the human body.