One of the most exciting elements of cannabis in a culinary sense is its ability to interact with food and drink in a very interesting and powerful way. Much like a dry, sour rosé with citrus fruits is the perfect partner for a piece of fried fish, Tangie’s uncanny citrus qualities complement a piece of sashimi soaked in ponzu, for example.
Today’s modern cannabis products such as discrete terpenes offer you incredible versatility and make for a rich dining experience with aroma and flavor notes jumping back and forth.
While you are able to impart some complementary or contrasting flavors with infusion methods that use less heat or by adding terpenes directly to food, you can also achieve great success by using cannabis flavors with food via smoked or vaporized cannabis , especially concentrates with a high terpene content. And unlike alcohol, the ability of cannabis to bring the user up or down with its different effects provides an additional level of experience so that a cannabis sommelier can start a meal with an uplifting, bright variety and end it with a rich, relaxing one .
When planning a cannabis pairing dinner, think about the strongest flavor elements in the food and try to play them off. Often times, the most intense element is not the main protein or starch, but a sauce or herbal component of a dish that makes it unique.
Try to think about contrasting flavors as well as complementary ones. It’s not always about choosing something that tastes similar or goes with the dish in the traditional sense. A fascinating pairing can surprise guests and make them appreciate both the food and the cannabis more than they would have it on their own.
Below are some of the most common fragrance and flavor categories you will come across so you can better understand how to combine and contrast cannabis.
One function of terpenes is to deter predators from eating or otherwise damaging the plants. To this end, certain strains sometimes emit an odor that can be described as foul or overwhelming. Over the past decade, connoisseurs have tended to seek these strains, with the incredibly pungent, pungent scents slipping through the overmatched plastic bag or glass and trying to keep them at bay. Known as “gaseous” or “sour”, these flavors can contain elements from kerosene, glue, skunk, tire, gum, and bad breath.
While smoking something that smells like the old tennis balls in your grandfather’s attic might not seem like an activity you’d like to engage in, these strains are also some of the most powerful and unique, often with hordes of fans flirting with their subtle differences are obsessed. Pairing a gaseous variety can be tricky, but these are best for dishes that can withstand them, like smoked meats and sauces with herbs (think chimichurri), but they also pair suspiciously with coffee.
Some of the most popular gaseous hot strains are Chemdog, Gorilla Glue, Headband, any OG Kush strain, Sour Diesel, and Triangle Kush.
While other flavor categories often have references to citrus, there are some varieties that have such a strong and eerie citrus aroma that it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart from reality. The presence of lime (which is found in grapefruit, lime, and lemon oils) is generally why a variety smells like citrus. However, whether they smell of sweet lemon candy or of garlic and lemon depends on the specific ratio and combination of other terpenes present.
Citrus fruits tend to be mentally uplifting and physically invigorating, just like lime itself, which makes sense because you’re more likely to find citrus-rich flavors in strains traditionally described as sativa. Think about how you can use citrus fruits in cooking to combine them with citrus fruits most effectively. Usually, it’s best to lighten a dish or add a lingering aftertaste that lingers on the palate.
Some varieties that have a citrus-dominated flavor and aroma are Grapefruit, Jack’s Cleaner, Jilly Bean, Lemon Diesel, Lemon G-13, Lemon Tree, Orange Cookies, Papaya, Somas New York City Diesel (NYCD), and Tangie.
Like some of the more complex and challenging wines in the world, cannabis at times has a whole host of rich, moist, and earthy flavors. Leather, smoke, coffee, earth, peat, and vegetation are some of the terms used to describe such tribes that, over time, have become more of an indicator. These strains are often relaxing or sleep-inducing, possibly due in part to the presence of terpenes like myrcene and beta-caryophyllene, both of which are believed to have anti-anxiety properties.
Some rich and earthy strains include Bruce Banner, Bubba Kush, Deadhead OG, Deep Chunk, Boy Scout Cookies, Hindu Kush, LA Confidential, Master Kush, Sour Bubble, and Sunset Sherbert.
Cannabis is a flower, after all, so some strains are expected to simply smell light and fragrant like other flowers. While certain stresses like a sensory SWAT team slamming the door on your brain, others dance in easily – calming and calming, meddling in instead of taking over. One terpene that is very common in flower varieties is linalool, which is also the most common terpene found in lavender and many other botanicals such as bay leaf, coriander, and sweet basil. These strains can range from very soft, pleasant scents to slightly more complex, grassy ones. Flower aromas are ideal for dishes such as baked goods with a subtle taste and for the inconspicuous smell of sauces and drizzle.
Floral cannabis strains include Blackberry Kush, DJ Short’s Flo, Grape Monkey, Grape Masher, Lavender, Purple Urkle, Strawberry Cough, and UK Cheese.
The general taste of cannabis can be referred to as the “herbal taste”. While admittedly this covers a wide variety of scents, they’re similar in that they’re found in other herbs like rosemary, sage, and eucalyptus, as well as things like pine. The most common terpenes in herbal varieties are alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, humulene and terpinolene, the combination of which can cover the spectrum from the tangy citrus spice of a Jack Herer to the floral sweetness of pine of a Maui.
Common herbs are Blue Dream, Jack Herer, Malawi, Mango Haze, Maui, Sage, Super Silver Haze, and Trainwreck.
Sweet and / or fruity
The first time you smell weeds that are really cute, it changes your life. Since the smell that most casual users associate with cannabis is rather pungent and skunky (because that’s what smoke usually smells like), they are often totally surprised to find flavors that range from lemon drops to cotton candy to green papaya, or a combination of ten sweet things in one.
Sweet strains usually range from the almost creamy, neutral sugary side to the flavorful tropical fruit side, all of which offer many options for pairing. While it’s tempting to combine sweet with sweet, it’s often more interesting to use the sweet strains to cut through something sour or to enhance something herbal. When a variety has the different characteristics of a particular fruit, sometimes the flavor comes through enough to replace the actual fruit in a recipe, much like you can use a fruit extract.
Common strains that fit into this category are Banana Kush, Blueberry, Bubblegum, Cinderella 99, Island Sweet Skunk, Lemon Skunk, Purple Urkle, Super Lemon Haze, Vanilla Kush, and Zkittlez.
Originally an excerpt from the print edition of Cannabis Now.