What may seem like excess on a cannabis plant to a layperson is an excellent opportunity for a cultivator. One such example is the plant’s ‘sugar leaves.’
Sugar leaves start growing during the buds’ or colas’ flowering stage. These colas start forming on the first 14 days of the flowering stage, and in the next 14 days, sugar leaves start to form.
Sugar leaves are small leaves that form on a marijuana plant. Most cannabis consumers don’t even notice them. Why are they called sugar leaves?
These leaves are coated in a white substance known as ‘trichomes,’ which gives them a sugar-coated look.
Trichomes are responsible for producing cannabinoids and terpenes. At A Pot for Pot, we help you provide for your plants by providing you with nurturing supplies. Here’s our guide to understanding sugar leaves.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to weed Cloning
What Can Be Done With Sugar Leaves?
The most common question that people have about sugar leaves is whether or not they can smoke them. Can sugar leaves be smoked? Yes. Should they be smoked? Not necessarily, but the decision is up to the cultivator.
While sugar leaves do have a high concentration of trichomes, they aren’t exactly easy to smoke. Sugar leaves provide a harsh smoke and leave a bitter taste in the mouth. While you can technically smoke them and some growers do leave them on with the bud, it’s not exactly ideal.
Trimming Sugar Leaves
Trimming is the process of manicuring cannabis flowers. Removing sugar leaves automatically decreases the risk of a mold infestation while increasing the quality of the buds. Sugar leaves tend to trap air and thus increase moisture, which can lead to an unwanted mold situation.
There are two ways to approach trimming - dry trimming and wet trimming. Wet trimming is done immediately after harvest while the leaves are still damp. It’s called wet trimming because, during this period, the moisture levels are high.
There is a considerable amount of sticky substance involved with wet trimming, but it is a highly effective method to protect the bud against mold and excess humidity.
Dry trimming is the process of trimming the buds after they’ve dried. Branches are often hung in warm rooms with low humidity. Dry trimming includes a lot of waiting because it takes a lot of time to dry cannabis.
However, dry trimming is the ideal method to follow if a grower wants to preserve sugar leaves. During the drying phase, the water on sugar leaves will evaporate, saving you the tremendous effort of drying them separately.
Decarbing Sugar Leaves
Before one starts to use sugar leaves, it is important to decarb them. Decarbing, short for decarboxylation, is what makes the leaves psychoactive. This process needs to be done for both sugar leaves and fan leaves.
One has to understand the chemical composition of cannabis. In cannabis, THC is in the form of THCA. THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. If you want to simply ingest it or make it a part of a recipe, sugar leaves are good to go without decarbing. But if you want a high, then there needs to be decarboxylation.
The process of decarboxylation happens when THCA is kept at 115-degree Celsius for over an hour. This process removes the carboxyl group from the molecule, and the only thing that’s left is THC. This molecule is responsible for the cannabis high.
How To Use Sugar Leaves to make CannaButter
One of the most common uses of sugar leaves is to make cannabis concentrates. By making concentrates, growers can create a product with a high concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes for a more robust potency.
Sugar leaves are, by default, less potent than cannabis flowers. However, they do have a high amount of trichomes. These trichomes make it ideal for isolation and concentration. A sugar leaf’s trichomes are more potent than the dry flower itself.
Another option is to make hash. Hash is one of the oldest ways to consume cannabis. Another form of concentration, hash provides a bundled form of trichomes that gives a clean high to smokers.
As mentioned earlier, sugar leaves are not as trichome-rich as the flowers, and hence while making hash, growers need a large number of sugar trims as compared to the flowers.
Cannabutter is a popular way of introducing sugar leaves in a more appetizing manner. Cannabutter can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.
30g of decarboxylated sugar leaves
Place the butter, water, and sugar leaves into a pan and simmer over low heat for 4 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, strain the mixture through a colander lined with cheesecloth into a large bowl. Use a spoon to press the spent leaves into the colander to force as much extract through as possible.
Place the bowl in the fridge for 2 hours. The butter will solidify on the surface, leaving a pool of water at the bottom of the bowl. Use a knife to slice the cannabutter and carefully remove it.
Store the extract in an airtight container in the fridge. Add it to any recipe that requires butter.
One can also brew fresh herbal tea with this recipe. To do so, place one gram of decarboxylated sugar leaves into a stainless steel filter and add it to a cup.
Add a teaspoon of butter to the cup. Pour boiling water over the leaves and butter, stir, and let sit. Once it’s cool enough to sip, the tea is ready to go. Alternatively, one can stir in a dollop of cannabutter to achieve the same effect instantly.
Sugar leaves are underrated and often underused. With the right technique and direction, sugar leaves can become an inseparable addition to any cannabis enthusiast’s life.