How do you know when the cure is complete/optimal?

Finostofind

New member
Hello all,

Ive done a lot of searching on this and other sites for references on cure time for certain strains. Not a lot out there. I've got some MH, SSH, and some Durban Poison (DP) jarred up with boveda 62's. It's really very interesting to witness the aromas changing over time.

MH has moved from unripe mango at chop, to citrus lemony/strong fuelly at 1mo, and now more earthy/rotten fruit at ~ 2 months post-chop.

SSH had strong skunk influence in aroma but has slowly developed flowery notes in addition to the skunk funk after 2mo.

DP has hit pure floral spectrum after about 2mo.

I have heard ~2mo is optimal for SSH (only a couple references I could find). MH has more references online and folks suggest 3mo min, 6mo sublime.

I realize it is all very subjective, but what are you folks basing "optimal cure times" on? What am I looking for? What for me tastes best, smells best, hits best, etc? Seems sativas/hazes get better with longer cures, while indica-leaning needs less time. These hybrids have a range of phenos leaning this way or that, so one can see best cure time will also vary depending on the pheno.

Thanks!
F2F
 

Big Sur

Active member
I have found that cure time depends on a lot of factors. Mainly temperature, humidity, and the oil content of the colas. Ideal curing temp and humidity for me is about 65 deg F at 50% humidity. At 70 deg F they dry too fast, and at 60 F they dry too slow. Also the more oil in the tops means slower drying time.

I dry and cure in 4 stages, and I do not put them into jars for at least 4 months or they tend to rot here. I cut my tops and do not hang them upside down, or there would be a 5th state to the process. I cut my tops to length from the plant when I harvest. I harvest typically over several days or even weeks, depending on if I am seeding lower branches, or they are ripening unevenly (usually top down). I place them in shallow cardboard boxes that cans of soda come in here and place them in a cool room at the back of the house at 65 F. If they are too damp or oily and not drying, I move them to the front of the house that is 70 F. That usually takes a week to 10 days. I turn them every other day until they feel dry to the touch. If they are seeded I harvest the seeds at this time.

Then I put the colas into curing bags which are paper grocery bags in a room that is (ideally) 65 F and 50% humidity. I leave the tops of the bags open for a few days and then crimp them over. I open the bags every day for a week and then ever couple days for a month or two to check that they are not too damp. At this stage the tops are dry but not the stems. Curing this way usually takes 4-8 weeks, depending on the size of the buds and thickness of the stems. Once the stems snap when bent and they feel dry to the touch, they are ready to go into plastic bags. I found that if I put them in sealed jars at this point they tend to rot.

So into the gallon size sealable plastic bags they go, which will breathe some, and into a dark closet usually in grocery bags. I leave them this way for 2-3 months. They tend to take on and emit a great smell at this point. Basically after this stage they will last virtually forever in any storage media. So I either bag up the plastic bags in larger bags, or I put them in sealed jars. So IMO to answer your question, the optimal cure would be when the tops are dry to the touch, and the stems are fully dry and snap clean when bent. You can also cut any large stems at this point and break them down into nugs. I am old school and leave them on larger east to manage size finger length buds.

I like to have well aged weed around, as THC breaks down into CBN over time, typically 10% a year. So my well aged weed becomes sleepy time medicine after a year or more. It also develops a different taste and aroma. Usually more complex, like wine. Weed does not stay static, it is dynamic in its ripening and aging process. After a year or so I go through my stash and save some for sleepy time weed, and the rest I render into hash oil. The final stage. I use the alcohol extraction method, and grind up bud fine for using as a blotter for the oil, so that it is easy to handle. Oil is too messy. I could do BHO, but that stuff is too strong. Then I roll the hash into balls, and save them in pop top plastic jars that they sell grans in around here. They last pretty much forever in that state, but the cannabinoids still change over time.
 

Finostofind

New member
Thanks Big Sur,

So in a nutshell you're going by touch/moisture content it seems. For some reason I always thought people have figured through trial and error what gives them best balance of stone, high, aroma, and taste. Do you previously correlate your level of ideal "dryness" to some other desirable characteristic of "great smoke".

I also have a methodical process for preparing "pre-jar", though not as involved as yours. I harvest, hang, then dry trim when stems almost snap, usually a 5-7 day dry (this first hang dry step is ~ 65C and 55% RH) with all leaves on. After trim I go into big jars with plenty of head space, burping frequently until stabilized at 60 - 65% RH - usually another 2-3 weeks for this step. Then I cram into jars with only about 10% empty space and Boveda 62's, and keep sealed in dark, cool (65C) place.

So, my stash is stabilized at ~62% RH when I go those last jars and add the bovedas. I consider this when the "traditional" cure period begins. Previous stages I arbitrarily label as drying stage.

However, your process is getting down to dried product much slower than me (maybe your buds are much bigger/more dense!). Finally, adding your numbers up you are curing for around 13 - 21 weeks. (If I added correctly )
 
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Broseidon

New member
I also do what seems to be referred to as "dungeon curing" which is based on a slow, drawn out drying and curing process in "dungeon-like" environments.

I harvest plants whole and have an extra drying chamber, just for the 7-10 day hang-dry process (and use it for storage after).
Hang them upside down, after removing all fan leafs that have no sugar on them.

I still haven't really messed much with my temperature and RH in my entire growspace. It is a type of basement where food and the like used to be stored before refrigerators so I seem to have pretty good, "naturally occuring", environment down there.
RH is constantly between 35 and 50%. My temperature fluctuates a lot more and is also how I influence my environment the most. I never need to cool down, even in the hottest times.
But in the winter especially I need to warm the space up to keep the temps around 20°.

This also influences the drying process, as previously stated.

I noticed that if I let temps fall naturally in the winter to around 15°, the hang dry gets drawn out extensively and I can let the plants hang dry for 2 weeks and more, easily before the stems start to "snap".
So I try to keep temps around 20° and the hang dry goes for around the 7-10 days everyone keeps talking about.

I have to say that I never actually heard a stem snap, I am not sure if I always start trimming too early or if the whole snap thing is just meant to keep people from trimming plants that are still bending and thus too wet to trim and cure.... Not sure.

I do a combination of looking for snapping stems (step 1) and then touch the buds until I am satisfied with their dryness.
I then dry-trim as my time allows. Since I am a one man operation, this can take time and the first and last plant I trim are usually quite a bit apart in terms of dryness as the last part might have been hang drying an additional week or so ...
I combat this by dropping the temperatures once I start harvesting. Helps a little I feel.

And then just off into the jars, with bovedas as well.

I have previously smoked up everything before it could get a month or longer cure. But I had very small harvests so far. This time I have my first bigger one and from the last few rounds I did note that the buds I left in the jars for a month or longer were much better.

So I will try to be patient and stuff this time.


But I wouldn't worry so much about times other people listed and strain dependent etc. etc.

The rule of thumb is 1-2 months for a good cure, everything on top of that can be beneficial but at the 6 months mark or after, I am fairly confident we are talking about degradation again, too long isn't good either....


Ultimately there are too many tiny factors, not only RH and temps and method etc. etc. even the jars you use (which material), if you kept it all dark etc. etc. etc. all plays a role and changes the whole recipe which also influences how long you need to cure in the end to reach peak fermentation.


Gotta go by trial and error I feel. Big Sur and I mentioned a lot of pointers you could adjust and tinker with (and there are surely many more online to be found). So ultimately you gotta tinker with that stuff until you have the best result for yourself.

Doesn't take forever though as once you have a 1 month cured jar, you just gotta have the patience to not smoke it all before it has cured 2, 3, 6 months etc.

As long as you keep notes, you can find out how long is ideal with a single run of a plant.

Stay frosty Bro
 

Finostofind

New member
Thanks Bro,

I have been keen of your helpful posts and good feedback to many here on MNS. another one to thank your for. Cheers!

So after hearing your and Big Sur's replies, seems I'm looking for whatever I consider to be "peak condition" smoke. Guess the only way to find out then is to start breaking into these jars and toke away on a regular basis, making sure to leave enough to get out to the ~6mo mark LOL!

Just as a quick aside, it was really wild to see the aroma (terpene?) profile change differently during cure for buds harvested just one week apart. Both batches started at mango, but after two months are quite different.

Peace!
F2F
 

Illyssian

New member
The rule of thumb is 1-2 months for a good cure, everything on top of that can be beneficial but at the 6 months mark or after, I am fairly confident we are talking about degradation again, too long isn't good either....
Yes, this is true chlorophyll and sugars get processed first, the longer you wait, the more the active compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes get processed by the bacteria. I like what you are writing Broseidon, I think you improved a lot from what I was reading. Keep up your work and be well.
 

Big Sur

Active member
As for terpenes, they typically peak before the the cannabinoids do. Or rather, they are more pronounced before they are converted to terpinoids and before the cannabinoids peak. I have found curing to be lass of a factor than at what point I harvest my plants. For example, this year I grew a local Grape Ape cut that is a cross between Mendo Purps, Skunk and "original" Afghani. The smell varied quite a lot on the plant as the plant matured. It went from fruity to skunky outdoors, and I let it mature indoors for 2 weeks under lights in early October here a test to see if warm nights increases THC (it definitely does). Indoors the skunk smell wafted off and it reverted to a more neutral smell. The result was not very grapey either, but it is INTENSE weed. It has a really good high without any narcotic effects like most indica strains have. Anyway, I am going to grow it again next year, as it has a really good high and I only got a few ounces off a late started plant last summer.

Reading about Cali-O from the past, that was the way that it matured as well. The orange Cali-O terpenes were intense earlier in flowering, and hence people considered it a weak strain, as the cannabinoids were less intense when the terpenes peaked. But those savvy growers that let it go longer got more intense higher THC weed, but with less intense orange flavor. Also terpenes seem to ripen and peak differently. I find that myercene and linalool tend to peak later than pinene and limonene. But it also seems to depend on the strain, and how they are grown. Higher heat and more sun, less intense terpenes as they are wafted off in these conditions. Curing can also affect the flavor and intensity, and I find that slow and cooler curing is best for a good flavor and for longer lasting weed.
 
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