5 Different things that terpenes can be added to for flavor

Published Jun 27, 2020 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Tinnakorn Jorruang

The cannabis plant is an incredible species that naturally produces hundreds of various elements, many of which we have yet to understand, but those that we do know about, like cannabinoids, terpenes, and terpenoids, we have figured out how to use to the best of our ability. In this article we will be focusing on terpenes specifically, though they only make up a small fraction of your average pot plant, you might be surprised to learn about all of the unique ways they can be useful for flavor.

What are terpenes?

There are over 100 different terpenes that can be found across different species of cannabis, but many are also produced by other plants like trees and bushes that produce fruit or vegetables. This is why it is not uncommon to see familiar scents such as lavender, orange, or lemon in the most popular weed strains because in this case, the aromatic substance is virtually identical across the different species, they are just produced in a unique way.

Fruit and vegetable plants produce terpenes as either a part of the fruit or a coating on the leaves, whereas cannabis terpenes are made in the same tiny factories that produce everything else that we love about the plant, including the potent cannabinoids and terpenoids. Terpenes are naturally produced oils that provide the smell and the flavor of all your favorite cannabis strains.

5 Things to try with terpenes

If you have happened across the perfect recipe for terpenes, or a good quality container of terp juice or liquid, and you’re wondering what on earth to do with these strange things, don’t worry, because you aren’t alone. As much as terpenes have always been the main selling point for various weed strains, most consumers have yet to experience what they can do once they are successfully harvested from cannabis plant materials.

Sure, you could always add them to some perfume for an extra special touch, or include them in bath bombs, body lotions, or use them in a heavy-duty essential oils diffuser, but if you want to know how to use this influential tool, then you have come to exactly the right place. Below, you will find five neat ways that you can use any kind of cannabis terpene to enhance other cannabis goods’ flavors and smells.

1. Dry cannabis flowers

Of course, all dry cannabis plant materials are going to contain traces of delightful terpenes, but what if they aren't the ones that you’d prefer? While there are more than 3000 documented strains of pot in existence today, even in a legal region, it can be challenging to find the perfect one for you. By using terpenes, you can flavor any old strain and turn it into a unique masterpiece that suits all of your deepest desires.

All you need to do is add a few drops to a bowl or drop several into a full bag of weed and leave it to rest and absorb the extra boost of flavor. No matter how you choose to combine the two cannabis goods, you are sure to be impressed. Just make sure that you don’t add so much that your buds won’t burn. Otherwise, you could be left disappointed, at least, temporarily.

2. Marijuana concentrates

Concentrates that are made from pot come in a multitude of different textures, colors, and consistencies, and that’s because each one requires a very specific set of steps to successfully make, but some types of cannabis concentrates are made using a process that destroys the potent terpenes that lie within, which leave the end product rather tasteless and scent-free.

Some consumers absolutely love the added level of discretion that scentless pot products can offer, but most cannabis connoisseurs enjoy the fresh smell and flavor of good old-fashion buds, and in some cases, the only way to do that is to mix either a little or a lot of the terpene concoction with it. This works best with semi-liquid options like BHO, or distillate, but it can also be compatible with most kinds of hash as well, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

3. Vape juice

Now technically vape juice would be a cannabis product if it had THC or hemp extracts in it, but most vape juice comes plain or paired with a hearty dose of nicotine. So, if you must hold off on smoking or vaping weed for a time, then you might want to consider combining a terpene extract with your favorite vape juice. You will want to ensure that you don’t add any more than a couple of drops at a time, but after this one small change, it will smell and taste like you're smoking weed, only without the impairing high.

4. Cooking oil

Cannabis cooking oil is difficult to find, as it’s still illegal in most regions around the world, and even in those that do not maintain a law against it, producers simply aren’t making it, because it’s a long and arduous process that takes time, effort, and skill, along with a proper facility. Luckily, terpenes do not discriminate, and they are more than happy to rest comfortably and safely within cooking oil of any kind until you are ready to whip it out and cook up your favorite dish.

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that most terpenes maintain a relatively low boiling point, which is the temperature that they will begin to evaporate into thin air, so be sure to stick with low heat recipes whenever possible. Most terpenes can be added to cannabis oil or regular cooking oil, and if the right ones are used the results are so good, that they can clearly enhance the already present flavors in a dish.

5. Edibles

Just like with the cooking oil, terpenes can greatly improve on the base flavors of just about any dish. Terpenes from the chocolope strain can be used to add to sweet treats or cake, or a pungent cheese or herbal strain to enhance the way that a good roast turns out. The wonderful thing about edibles is that they can take literally any shape, size or ingredient list, so the opportunities here are nearly limitless. Add a little or add a whole lot to any of your loved recipes before they are baked, just be sure to deduct moisture to maintain a consistent thickness, and you will love the results.

Where to get terpenes?

Yes, you can find almost any kind of terpene that you could imagine in pot, but extracting them is not as easy as grinding up the buds or shaking some dry plant matter over a dish to collect the droppings. Normally, terpenes are harvested using a distilling method that pushes steam up through dry buds, which gently removes them from the plant materials, but luckily, if you don’t feel confident making it, you can always buy some from a head shop or dispensary instead.

Cannabis terpene and mood pairings

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