Sugar Leaves: What They Are & What To Do With Them
Before you go on and roll a sugar leaf joint, there are a few things you should know! Let’s get into the best ways to use your sugar leaves.
Cultivators are always looking for ways to maximise the utility of every single part of the cannabis plant. This includes utilising trim for various purposes, which ultimately involves extracting cannabinoids for consumption. But there are parts of the cannabis plant that fall in a grey area of whether they should be considered trim or smokable. These are the sugar leaves.
You might not know what they are by name, but you’ve certainly seen them on your cannabis plants! Some growers trim them completely from the buds, but others will just leave them on for reasons you’ll soon understand. Let’s get a better sense of what sugar leaves are, and what they’re used for.
WHAT THEY ARE
Sugar leaves are small leaves that grow out of your buds. They aren’t the large fan leaves you see protruding from branches on the plant. These can be easily distinguished. For starters, you’ll most likely be able to locate the stems of your fans leaves. Sugar leaves, however, are more hidden, with only their tips peaking through. The title “sugar leaves” comes from the white coating of delicious trichomes they have at the end of the flowering phase. While fan leaves also have trichomes, they are far less concentrated and therefore, less potent. However, fan leaves can still be used when making edibles.
Different strains will have different amounts of sugar leaves with different amounts of trichomes. And these traits are not correlated. Having more sugar leaves does not mean more trichomes, nor will resinous flower automatically signal more sugar leaves. Their size will also vary a lot. Sometimes they’ll cover the bud, while other times, they’ll barely peek through the flower. This will also be affected by how their size compares to that of the bud.
On the other hand, there seems to be a relation between the number of leaves and the size of the buds. When the buds are larger, they tend to contain fewer sugar leaves. But when the buds are smaller, they will have more sugar leaves. Why this happens is still a mystery, but growers have reported a noticeable trend.
ARE THEY SMOKABLE?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. It’s up to you as a grower to make the decision. Some growers will choose to leave them on for the extra weight. On certain strains, the sugar leaves will even make the buds more visually appealing due to the abundance of trichomes on them. They will also help the drying process happen more naturally.
On the other hand, sugar leaves will absolutely yield a harsher smoke. If you smoke them by themselves, the joint or bowl you pack will not taste good, nor will it be smooth on your throat. Although containing THC, sugar leaves are less concentrated than the flower and contain excess amounts of chlorophyll and other trace elements that contribute to a plant-like taste. Also, you’ll have to grind a larger weight than usual to feel the same high with sugar leaves. If you so choose to smoke them, you’re best leaving the leaves on the buds and grinding them with the flower as you go. This way, it will increase your volume of smoke without having too much of an unpleasant effect on the experience.
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR SUGAR LEAVES
The decision to smoke sugar leaves will partially depend on the amount you have. If, after curing, you feel they aren’t that present on your buds, you might as well leave them. They won’t be worth the trouble of trimming further. But in case you’ve decided the cons of smoking sugar leaves outweigh the pros, here’s what you can do with them.
MAKE A BATCH OF CANNABUTTER
Although sugar leaves aren’t too strong on their own, they offer a potent high when their trichomes are extracted and condensed.
This quintessential cooking extract can be infused into just about any recipe imaginable, from cakes and cookies to salad dressings and pasta dishes. Here’s how to make it:
· 28g trimmed sugar leaves
· 250g salted butter
· 300ml tap water (add another 50ml for every hour the mixture is left simmering)
· Kitchen knife (or a blender)
· Storage container
· Measuring jug
Wondering if you should smoke your sugar leaves? We'll help you decide, and give you some other great uses for sugar leaves.
What To Do With Cannabis Trim And Fan Leaves?
When trimming our buds, either before or after drying, we usually have a lot of plant material left. Depending on our trimming style and the quality of the genetics, the plant material left can still have a lot of trichomes left.
Those trichomes can be used to make extractions such as dry sift has, water hash, edibles, and even rosin, depending on the quantity.
1. What Is Trim?
Trim is the plant leftovers after manicuring our buds. When our plant is ready to be harvested there is an excess of plant material, this excess must be removed before curing and (eventually) smoking our flowers.
When trimming, we not only remove the small leaves coming out of the buds but also the big fan leaves, typical of cannabis plants. So when talking about trim we refer to all the plant material, including the fan leaves, small leaves, popcorn buds, and any other part of the plant that we may have removed.
Depending on the genetics and type of training and pruning you performed on your plant, there can be quite a lot of plant material left. If you did a good job growing your plants, the excess you removed can be covered in resin.
There are two different ways of trimming: one consists of trimming before drying (wet trim) and the other consists of trimming after drying (dry trim). In either one of them, you will have plant leftovers that may be covered in trichomes still.
Note : Not always the leftover will have trichomes. Sometimes the plant doesn’t produce trichomes on areas surrounding the buds. If you’re planning on benefiting from it, we recommend growing strains that produce an extra amount of trichomes, like our new Gorilla Cookies Auto.
2. Choosing What To Make
The quantity of plant leftovers you will have depends mostly on the number of plants you’re harvesting at the same time.
The training and style of pruning will also influence that amount, but obviously, harvesting 5 plants at the same time will result in more trim than 1 or 2 plants.
There are several things to do with the leftovers, the most common are dry sift hash, water hash, cannabutter, infused olive oil, and vaping the leftovers.
3. Making The Most Out Of Trim
Have in mind that for all these things except for the water hash, you will need to dry the trim if you have wet trimmed your buds. Water hash can be made with fresh or dried trim, as long as you prevent plant material in the final product.
Dry sifting the trim while still fresh may leave the hash green and with a plant flavor and smell, but it will not have an influence on the effect.
Making cannabutter, oil, or simply vaping the wet trim will leave a strong plant flavor and it’s recommended to dry before making anything with it. Due to not being dense like buds, it shouldn’t take that much to dry properly.
Have in mind that for every plant you harvest you will have between 10-30g of trim and you will need quite a lot of trim for some of the following ways to make the most out of trim.
The amount and quality of trim depend on a lot of things, mainly on the quality of the genetics and on how you train and prune your plants.
4. Water Hash
Water hash is recommended if you have a lot of plant material to work with, usually water hash has a 5-10% return rate, depending on the quality of the trim.
That means that for every 200g of trim you will get around 10-20g.
This technique is usually recommended for more experienced users because you have to be aware of a lot of things for it to be done properly.
• Frozen cannabis trim
• Dried cannabis trim
• Bubble hash bags
• Big metal spoon
Tip : You can use a water hash machine to automate the process.
How To Make
For this method, you will have to place the bubble bags on the bucket, the bubble bags are the filters that will separate the residues from the trichomes.
First, mix the water, ice, and frozen trims and let the trims hydrate for a couple of minutes (if dry). If the trims are not dry, you need to mix the water, trims, and ice gently so the trichomes falls down from the trims and mix in with the water.
After 2 -3 minutes of gently mixing, lift up the bubble bags and use the water hose to wet the sides of the bubble bags to make the trichomes stuck to the sides go down to the bottom of the bubble bags.
At this point, you should be able to see a bit of trichomes together on the bottom.
Repeat this process until you see the trims starting to disintegrate.
When you see the trim starting to disintegrate, use the hose to wash the sides of the bubble bags and remove the hash with a metal spoon. Place it flat on a piece of cardboard, away from heat or strong sunlight, and let it dry.
After a couple of days, it should be ready to be consumed.
5. Dry Sift Hash
For dry sift hash you don’t need as much trim as for water hash because it has a higher return rate of about 15-20%, as said before, it depends on the quality of the trim.
That means that for every 200g of trim you will get around 30-40g.
This technique is one of the easiest and simplest, and you will only need a couple of things.
• Bubble bags or specific micron filter mesh
• Card to collect kief
• Clean and big surface
How To Make
There are a couple of ways yo make dry sift hash, one of the most common ways is to freeze the trim, place it in the bubble bags and shake it.
By shaking it, all the trichomes will fall through the filter mesh and fall on the surface under, that’s why you need a big and clean surface.
After shaking for around 5 min, you can collect the hash with a card (like a credit card) and shake again.
The more you shake the more hash you will have, but be aware that the quality will be lower on each cycle after the first. You can do this after you see small pieces of plant matter starting to fall through.
There is also special equipment available that has the mesh on top of a bucket, so you don’t have such a hard time collecting the kief.
This is one of the easiest methods to make full-spectrum extractions.
Cannabutter is usually used in edibles like brownies, cake, and cookies. You don’t need nearly as much trim as when making hash.
You can make cannabutter with as much trim as you want, the amount you use will influence the potency of the edible.
Usually, a potent edible will have around 20 or 30g of trim, depending on the quality.
How To Make
Preheat your oven to 100C, place the trim on an oven-safe tray, cover with parchment paper or tin foil and leave in the oven for around 20 – 30min.
Every 10 minutes gently mix the buds gently so that they don’t burn and everything to decarboxylates equally.
After everything has cooled down, place the decarboxylated trims in a glass jar along with the butter and put it in a water bath until the butter melts.
Be careful to not let the mixture exceed 95C and it NEVER should come to a boil. Remember, adding more water to the water bath helps keep a lower temperature.
After 2-3 hrs in the water bath at 95C, strain the cannabutter and refrigerate until the butter solidifies and the excess water forms at the bottom of the jar.
At this point it is ready to use. The best way to use cannabutter is to incorporate it as a topping or filling after you have baked the cake, cookies, brownies, or whatever you make. If you bake the cannabutter, it may lose its potency.
Tip: You can also make infused milk, it works the same way but instead of using butter you use whole milk.
7. Infused Olive Oil
Infused olive oil is a great way to consume cannabis without having to smoke it. Just like cannabutter, it should be consumed cold, in a salad, or in a way you don’t apply too much heat to it.
How To Make
Infusing olive oil is kind of similar to making cannabutter but simpler. You will need a good quality olive oil, place it in a pot or saucepan on medium heat until it almost boils.
When it is starting to bubble turn it off and add the trims, you can also add other herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or basil.
The extra herbs will not only mask the strong cannabis flavor but will also make the oil taste better.
After around 2 or 3 hours of letting the herbs (including the cannabis trims) simmer in the olive oil, you can remove it from the stove, strain it and store in a glass container.
As long as you store it in a cool place it will be good for up to a year.
There’s not much to say about vaping, as there’s no secret to it.
You will only need a vaporizer, either tabletop or portable, to place the trims inside and vape them. Depending on the number of trichomes in it it won’t get you too high, but this can be a great way to try your freshly harvested plant before smoking the buds.
9. In Conclusion
There’s no need to throw away any part of the plant, even the roots and branches can be useful if you know how to use them.
Remember the number of trichomes in the trim will vary according to how you grow them, the type of nutrients, environment, genetics, training, and pruning will have a direct influence on the quality and quantity of your trim.
When trimming our buds, either before or after drying, we usually have a lot of plant material left. Depending on our trimming style and the quality of the gene