We’re extremely proud of the book we published this year, Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed, and if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, get one here. If you’re not sure if the book’s for you—even with its gorgeous photography and food styling and Test Kitchen-approved recipes—we think you might be convinced by a glimpse at how thoroughly we break down the basics of infusing cannabis into your food, starting with all of the the tools you’ll need. If you or an aspiring cannabis cook in your life are looking for holiday wish list items, we think any of the things you’ll find in the introduction to the book—plus a copy of the book itself, of course—are exactly where you should start. Read on for an excerpt from Bong Appétit where we detail all the (surprisingly accessible) kitchen gadgets you’ll need to make the most of the book. Bonus: most of these double as the generic kitchen staples you should have hanging around your kitchen anyway.
Sadly, not everyone can live in cannabis-friendly Los Angeles with an elaborately outfitted pot pantry in their kitchen like on Bong Appétit. On the bright side, you don’t need much more than your basic kitchen essentials—plus a good dispensary or a good dealer—to cook with weed. So in addition to the usual pots and pans, knives, spoons, and bowls, here is what you will need.
Vital for using the jar method for infusing. The size you need depends on what you are infusing, so keep an array of different sizes in your cupboard, as well as backup lids and bands. When used in boiling water, the lids and bands can degrade quickly and put your precious cannabis oils at risk of becoming waterlogged.
Essential for straining cannabis plant matter out of finished infusions.
Digital kitchen scale:
Reliable measurements are especially important when dealing with cannabis flowers, kief, and extracts to ensure correct dosing. Look for a high-quality scale capable of precise measurements down to the milligram.
Cannabis infusions require attention to temperature throughout the process, making our instant-read thermometer the gift that keeps on getting us high.
Indispensable for creating infusions. Having mesh strainers on hand in a variety of sizes is a good idea as it will allow you to work at any scale.
This fine-rasp grater is ideal for grating tiny bits of hash or flower over finished dishes. It is also especially helpful if you’re working with compressed chunks of hash.
For scraping every bit of THC-laced batter out of a bowl.
Once you have the basics on hand, you will want to think about some nice-to-have options.
If you’re cooking with weed frequently, or need to grind up larger quantities of weed that would overload a simple herb grinder, a dedicated coffee grinder is very helpful.
If you anticipate doing a lot with cannabis extracts, you might want a set of dab tools—little spoons, pokers, and angled sharp-edged implements—plus a bottle of isopropyl alcohol for getting your tools clean. “Iso” can be bought at a pharmacy and has a number of household uses—grease remover, disinfectant, glass cleaner—precisely what you need to clean sticky dab tools as well as gunky glass pipes and dirty grinders. Buy tools sold as “wax carving sets,” rather than branded cannabis-specific dab tools, to save some cash (but still make sure they are stainless steel or titanium).
Cannabis flowers are generally ground before rolling a joint or loading a bowl, so a whole array of cannabis-specific devices known as herb grinders exist. Resembling a big hockey puck, these grinders are made of metal, wood, or plastic and have top and bottom halves, with an interior lined with spikes. The herb is placed inside the grinder and the top and bottom are turned back and forth between your hands until the herb is ground. The grinder is then opened and the contents are tapped out onto a rolling surface. You can use a herb grinder for cooking purposes, too, especially for small-scale applications. Grinders from Sweetleaf, Mendo Mulcher, and Santa Cruz Shredder work wonders. Go for a metal one over plastic or wood, as the teeth are far stronger and the (hopefully) super-sticky herb you’re loading into it is less likely to gum it up and break the teeth.
Useful for storing sticky cannabis oils, parchment also has a variety of uses in a cannabis kitchen, from lining pans for baking cookies to pressing rosin.
Silicone baking mats:
Sticky hash won’t cling to silicone, so get a variety of sizes of silicone baking mats, traditionally used for lining sheet pans for baked goods. Now manufactured for the cannabis market by a variety of companies, these mats help keep surfaces free of difficult-to-clean oil stains but also make it easy to handle some of the more-tacky consistencies.
Handy for simmering infusions for a long time at a low temperature.
Spice ball or tea strainer:
A large, spherical spice ball or tea strainer is convenient for cannabis infusions, as you can add the weed to the strainer, immerse it in a big pot of oil or melted butter, and then easily remove it later.
If you’re serious about cooking with weed, here’s a bunch of transcendent equipment to acquire.
Automatic infusion machine:
Set-it-and-forget-it infusion machines are the future, with several appliances on the market that remove the guesswork from infusing cannabis flowers or extracts into fats, glycerin, or alcohol. Some of the most advanced infusion machines can even strain out the cannabis material afterward, making the whole process a truly simple, low-mess affair. Two well-known brands are the MagicalButter machine, which has settings for creating infusions and tinctures with different kinds of fat, and the elegant LEVO machine, which infuses cannabis into oil or melted butter and then even strains it for you.
If you really want to live large, buy a dedicated decarboxylation machine. The NOVA decarboxylator is a brilliant new invention that activates THC precisely.
This device is normally used to juice grapes, but you can also use it to juice the last little bit of cannabinoid content out of your infusion material.
Smoke gun and pellet smoker:
You can add smoke to food by using a smoke gun or pellet smoker (though you need a lot of cannabis to make a pellet smoker work); both methods are more about adding flavor than actually getting weed into things. If a little smoky flavor and some tableside flash are all you want, you can pipe smoke under a cloche to dress up oysters on ice.
Reprinted with permission from Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed by the Editors of MUNCHIES, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.