Knowing proper food storage is important for any home cook, and the unique recipes involved in making cannabis edibles require a few special bits of know how, both in preparation and in keeping your edibles fresh. In today’s article we’ll be delving into some food science to talk about different types of cannabis edibles, their unique storage requirements, and some general tips to help keep any snacks you may have fresh and potent. Let’s dive in.
(Editor’s Note: This article focuses solely on how to store edibles – If you’re looking for the best way to store your bud, tinctures or other cannabis concentrates, check out our companion article “What’s the Best Way to Store Weed?“)
How to Store Your Edibles: Getting Started
Proper storage of all cannabis edibles starts with what type of food products you have – You wouldn’t want to store, say, a batch of cannabis ice cream from the local dispensary in the same way you’d store some cannabis cookies. If it’s a food stuff designed to stay cold, you’ll need for it to stay cold – Likewise, if your edible would otherwise be ok at roughly room temperature, the cannabis version at room temperature should still be just fine.
No matter what your edible is, the general rules are:
- Keep it in a dark location
- Keep it from getting too warm or cold (with some conditions; see more below)
- Keep it airtight
If these look familiar it’s because the same general rules for keeping medical marijuana tinctures or other THC concentrates at peak potency generally apply to edibles as well. Shelf-life expectancy and overall freshness level can vary in different products but certain edibles, like candy or chocolates, can last from six months to one year if stored properly. Let’s talk about each of these storage methods in detail.
Keeping Your Edibles Away From Light
Light is one of the worst enemies of THC, with published research showing that exposure to light and UV rays can be one of the quickest and most efficient ways to break down THC into non-psychoactive forms. This is mitigated slightly with most edibles, as the majority of your THC will not be in the outer layer of your edible and thus not risk much sun exposure, but can still pose issues.
While UV rays can, with the proper setting and application, kill microbial bacteria, fungus, and other pathogens present on the surface layer of foods your average, every day sun beam is likely only to create a warm environment for your cannabis edible to bask in, which is horrible for bacterial growth. This also leads into our next point…
Keeping Your Edibles at the Right Temperature
With nearly any food stuff, all a warm environment is going to do is either encourage the growth of mold and other bacteria or make your food eventually dry out. Letting your edibles sit around in a warm, likely moist environment invites condensation droplets, meaning they’re going to go moldy and bad much quicker than if they had been kept somewhere cooler.
In general using the freezer to store edibles is also a poor idea, though can be done with the proper recipes and methods. If your edible product is neither a liquid nor a solid mass, such as a loaf of bread or a plate of brownies, the loss of moisture from the freezing process can take THC with it, reducing the potency of your edible.
That being said, keeping your edibles in the fridge (properly labeled and secured if you’ve got kiddos) is usually a good move.
No matter what your edible is or what temperature you plan on keeping it at, of equally great importance is keeping it sealed shut. Bringing us to our last point:
Keeping Your Edibles Sealed Airtight
There are few foods that benefit from exposure to CO2, and cannabis edibles are particularly susceptible. Keeping food well-sealed is often one of the first steps in ensuring it’s longevity, as air contact not only dries out food but also introduces potential molds and other harmful bacteria.
As mentioned above, moisture loss takes THC away with it, both degrading it into different compounds (such as the potentially beneficial yet non-psychoactive CBN) and simply evaporating it into the atmosphere. With a well-sealed container this can be mitigated, though fresh oxygen is introduced every time the container is opened, meaning any vessel containing an edible (or concentrate) should only be opened when needed and re-sealed as quickly as possible.
Putting It All Together
Combining all of this knowledge we can say that the safest way to store your cannabis edibles is in a dark, cool place in a well-sealed container. Of course these are general rules, and advice can change depending on the specific type of edible you’re trying to store. Let’s talk about some of the more common edible cannabis products below and what we recommend for extending their shelf life.
How to Store Cannabis Oils
Oils are particularly susceptible to rancidity as they age, and once infused with organic matter those chances go even higher. To help preserve cannabis coconut oil (or any other cannabis concentrates/oils/tinctures) we recommend a dark glass container – One of the green glass bottles olive oil or even wine comes in will do for most oils, or anything that resembles an amber dropper bottle. For coconut oil, which sets solid at room temp, wide-mouth, dark glass jars are preferable.
Regardless of your chosen style, make sure it comes with a tight-fitting, screw-on top – Preferably plastic, as metal can lend an off taste to some oils. From here, keeping your oil away from heat and UV rays are your best options for preserving shelf life. We recommend an enclosed, dark place such as a pantry shelf, located well away from any household appliances that may generate heat (stove, oven, furnaces, etc. etc.) – Expect these oils to last up to one year.
How to Store Cannabutter and Cannabis Infused Milk
Though butter is shelf stable we don’t recommend leaving cannabis infused butters out on the kitchen island unless softening them for baking purposes. To get the most out of your cannabutter we suggest wrapping it tightly in parchment paper before placing it in a resealable, airtight container (such as tupperware or silicone containers) and into the refrigerator or freezer will help it maintain it’s longest lifespan.
If placing your butter directly into airtight containers it may also be wise to place a small sheet of parchment paper or wax paper on top, before sealing the container shut. This will protect the outermost layer of the cannabis butter from being exposed to air, which can lead to both affect the taste and make it go bad quicker.
Similarly, marijuana infused milk should be kept in the refrigerator, preferably toward the back or on a bottom shelf. A glass container is also recommended here, with the same style of lid as used in cannabis oils – Tight fitting, screw on, and plastic.
How to Store Cannabis Gummy Bears & Other Candies
Cannabis candies pose a unique challenge, as air flow can be both good and bad for their longevity. Keeping hard candies and gummies in airtight containers can lead to weeping if not also kept in a cool, dark place with as little humidity and moisture as possible. Conversely, as mentioned above, moisture loss due to air exposure can wick away cannabinoids from your edibles, which is also less-than-ideal.
A silicone desiccant pack (the same kind found in medicine bottles and beef jerky packs) can help make sure your sugary snacks stay dry and at the right texture, though the same issues apply as with oxygen exposure – The silicone inside the pack is simply wicking away moisture instead of the ambient atmosphere.
We mention this in our “How to Make Weed Gummies” article but in short, if dealing with a gummy or a hard candy that you know is likely to have weeping issues giving them a gentle dusting in a mixture of 2:1 corn starch to powdered sugar will help keep moisture at bay. This also lets you eat your home-made sugar desiccant, definitely not something you want to do with the silicone type. From here storage in plastic or silicone containers is ideal, though dark glass jars are also acceptable.
How to Store Chocolate Cannabis Edibles
Though still vulnerable to high temperatures and humidity, chocolate is relatively stable on its own, and outside of the short term advice of keeping it in a cool, dark, contained area chocolate typically doesn’t require much fussing about to avoid issues such as fat or sugar bloom.
If planning on keeping your chocolates for a longer period of time (and this advice applies to the gummies and candies mentioned above as well), the freezer is a viable option. If you have access to a food-grade vacuum sealer we would suggest using that to store your candies in before tossing them into the freezer, to minimize moisture loss due to the cold temperatures; take care if vacuum sealing filled chocolates or candies, though, as the intense pressure from the vacuum can crush them inside the bag, leading to a sticky mess.
How to Store Cannabis Brownies & Other Baked Goods
Similarly to the above, proper storage of cannabis baked goods such as cookies or brownies isn’t very different from storing regular bakery treats – Keep them in an airtight container, keep them out of direct light & heat, and otherwise enjoy.
If possible we recommend staying away from containers that have a lot of air room inside of them – Just because it’s airtight once sealed doesn’t mean there isn’t oxygen in there, and using something like a zip-top plastic bag that you gently hand-compress the air from is a much better alternative for your cannabis edibles than, say, your aunt Cathy’s vintage cake tray; parchment paper can help here as well.
Cookies and brownies can be frozen if so desired but bear in mind our advice from above, which is that any non-solid or porous cannabis food product kept in the freezer will suffer from moisture (and thus cannabinoid) loss. Vacuum sealing can help mitigate this, and is your best bet if using the freezer to store any sort of baked good. Failing that, try for the hand-compressed zip-top bag method mentioned above; it isn’t perfect, but it can help.
Storage for edible cannabis products doesn’t have to be much different from other food products (or concentrates), and the same basic rules that apply to proper food storage in general will apply to cannabis edibles as well. As long as our three basic guidelines (air, temp, light) are followed your cannabis edibles should be happy sitting in your refrigerator/pantry as much as any other food stuff should be – As long as you can keep from eating them, that is. Happy munching!