Cannabis extractors are always looking to make their products more potent and flavorful, and as fresh as possible, and fresh frozen cannabis is currently making its rounds as the latest trend that achieves all of the above and more.
Sure, taking your buds below zero might sound strange, but frozen fresh frozen material tends to result in a quicker production timeline, higher profits, and increased terpene, trichome, and cannabinoid preservation. In other words, you get the quality-cannabis-product trifecta.
With some really solid benefits and very few recognized drawbacks, fresh freezing cannabis is a winning method for extraction, and the global industry is finally starting to catch on to this hack.
Can you freeze weed?
To answer the burning question: yes, you can freeze weed. And if you’re interested in making fresh, high-quality cannabis extracts with excellent terpene and cannabinoid content, you absolutely should consider working with frozen weed.
While consumers might benefit from storing their excess flower in frigid temperatures, the process of freezing cannabis is mainly utilized by cultivators who sell their products to extractors.
“The term ‘fresh frozen cannabis’ comes from taking plant material and harvesting it in a certain way. Then, you freeze that material, store it, and transport it to a manufacturer, who makes hash,” said the Founder and Managing Partner at 800Lbs. Mantra Addison DeMoura. “But an important thing to note is that you can’t just take any cannabis strain and freeze it to make hash.”
In fact, many breeders cultivate strains specifically for the fresh frozen process–weed that is high in trichome content, like Gorilla Glue and Papaya.
How to fresh freeze cannabis
Once you have the right strain for the job, fresh freezing cannabis is a straightforward process that requires attention-to-detail and patience.
“Essentially, you’re capturing plant material while it’s alive and at its freshest. You’ll start by cutting your plants down, removing the fan leaves, and letting the plant settle for about 12 hours. Then, you’ll break down the plants–either by hand or with a machine,” DeMoura said. “From there, you just place the buds in a vessel and freeze them.”
One of the most important details to hone in on is the vessel you use to store your cannabis in, which is why 800Lbs. Mantra teamed up with Grove Bags to develop a bespoke cannabis storage bag for an optimized process and protection from mold and mildew.
“With our understanding of freezers and the fresh frozen extraction process, we came together with Grove Bags to design a bag that helps manufacturers receive the plant material easily without any degradation issues. We wanted to create something with humidity levels that allow for better transportation and storage, which ultimately makes for better hash,” DeMoura said. “If you make a great bag, you’re protecting the material and the farmer who cultivated it. It mitigates liability for all sides by creating a vessel that makes sense for the product.”
Of course, opting for a bag specifically designed for fresh frozen flower is ideal, but if you’re in a bind, you can fill a standard food-grade plastic bag with cannabis flower, packing each one around 75 percent full and making sure to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing–ideally with a vacuum seal. Once your bag is safe and secure in the freezer, you’ll want to give it at least 24 hours to solidify before transporting–and you may want to consider using dry ice for the journey so the product doesn’t fall victim to room temperature thawing.
The benefits of fresh frozen cannabis
Fresh frozen cannabis is arguably the best medium for creating top-shelf hash; it’s cheap enough to produce, simple to transport, and it helps create products that are flavorful, and aromatic.
Here are some of the main benefits:
- Fresh frozen cannabis is the best method for preserving trichomes, terpenes, and other active plant compounds
The biggest selling point for fresh freezing is preservation. Freezing flower allows those sought-after plant compounds to present like they would directly from the newly-harvested plant, which is nearly impossible to achieve throughout the standard transportation timeline.
“When extractors are ready to make hash, they grab those fresh frozen bags from the freezer, put the plant material in ice water, and extract the trichomes and active terpenes right off the plant. It doesn’t get much purer than that,” DeMoura said.
- Fresh freezing helps cultivators save on production costs
With fresh frozen cannabis, drying and curing is no longer necessary, which means farmers don’t have to worry about draining time and resources into these steps.
- Fresh frozen cannabis has a quicker production timeline than standard flower
For farms that process their cannabis buds, the removal of drying and curing also means the harvest timeline for a cannabis plant is a lot faster. Farmers are able to produce more flower more often, so not only are they saving on production costs, but they’re setting themselves up for higher total output with increased revenue.
- Fresh frozen cannabis is ideal for a wet trim
If you prefer a wet trim, you’re in luck with fresh frozen flower. Wet trimming can be a messy pain in the ass, but if you’re working with frozen cannabis, there’s notably less resin to worry about, which makes your end-of-day cleanup job a whole lot easier.
The drawbacks of fresh frozen cannabis
Every cultivation method comes with some potential negatives, but for fresh frozen flower, they’re practically nonexistent.
The only downsides we can think of are the fact that fresh frozen cannabis is a bit more fragile and will need to be handled with extra care. It also could potentially suffer freezer burn. However, these risks really only exist if you’re careless, so as long as you follow proper procedure and handle your product with caution, you should be fine.
“There really aren’t any drawbacks when it comes to fresh freezing flower. The method is highly beneficial for farms because they don’t have to hire these huge teams to hang, dry and trim the flower. It saves a ton of time and money, and it allows you to harvest quickly and often,” DeMoura said. “Farmers also make better money with fresh frozen product. It really is a win-win, and that’s why so many big farms are starting to adapt to the fresh frozen model.”
What type of products can you get from fresh frozen cannabis?
Fresh frozen cannabis is exclusive to the extracts world, used to make one of two types of concentrates: live resin and live rosin.
Live resin blasts fresh frozen cannabis with solvents like butane, BHO, or propane, while live rosin is a solventless hash oil concentrate used to make products like bubble hash or ice water hash.