When your cannabis plant is mature enough to be harvested, if you look closely at the buds at the top of your plant, you’ll see not only buds in this small area, but occasionally a few tiny leaves between the buds. These leaves are also covered with trichomes that look like they are frosted, hence the name “sugar leaves.” You may not be familiar with the name but if you’ve ever gone through a whole seed-to-harvest process, you must have noticed them. They mature slowly with the buds and also contain a certain concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes, although not as high as the buds, but far more than the fan leaves.
What sugar leaves can be used for
Most people’s first reaction is whether they can be used for smoking. But actually, I cannot give a definite answer on that. You could theoretically smoke sugar leaves as they contain cannabinoids and terpenes, but they’ll probably also irritate your throat more than smoking individual buds because they produce more smoke than a bud does. The flavor is not too harsh and you can certainly smoke sugar leaves. Don’t try to smoke the sugar leaves individually since there just isn’t much THC on each leaf—it’s better to collect them together by pruning your buds and use those for another purpose.
In addition to smoking, sugar leaves can actually be used to make many other cannabis products. We farmers always want to get the most out of our hemp plants and sugar leaves are a great illustration of that attitude.
If you’re only interested in smoking, but want a smooth texture, consider making kief from sugar leaves. Kief is the powder that remains at the bottom of the grinder when you grind cannabis. Kief is a fine powder and is more potent than smoking only the buds—you can think of them as a concentrated trichome powder. After drying and curing the sugar leaves, grind them using a grinder that can filter the kief out. If you want to keep kief for a long time you can make them into hash coins by packing them tightly into a coin shape.
Making cannabutter with sugar leaves is pretty common. Sugar leaves are not very potent but you can extract their trichomes to make them more useful. This extract can be used in every cannabis-related recipe. Just replace the buds you would use to make the cannabutter with sugar leaves—it’s way more economical and works pretty well!
Crush the decarboxylated dried sugar leaves and then put them on a baking tray and put them in the oven. The oven should be preheated to 100 degrees and bake those leaves for 40 minutes. Take a piece of butter and melt it in a saucepan, throw in the treated sugar leaves, simmer the mix for 8 hours add water every hour and stir well; don’t allow the mixture to dry out. Strain the contents to get rid of impurities and it’s cooked and you’ll get a greenish liquid. Store the butter in a mason jar in the refrigerator and the cannabutter is done!
Sugar leaves are also a good choice for making tea and many people even use fan leaves to make tea—this is a traditional tea in some Caribbean islands. Compared with fan leaves, sugar leaf tea is of course way more enjoyable since it has higher THC content and it isn’t as bitter as fan leaf tea. Put a gram of decarboxylated sugar leaves into a strainer, brew with boiling water, you can add a spoonful of butter to make the cannabinoids and fats blend better; stir it all and let it stand. Once the temperature has dropped to a drinkable temperature, enjoy your tea!
How to trim sugar leaves
We said earlier that there is no need to trim the sugar leaves if you want to smoke it yourself, but it’s best to trim the sugar leaves clean if you’re going to be selling buds or sharing them with friends. Neat buds just will look more attractive. The potency of pure buds is definitely higher than a mixture of buds and sugar leaves at the same volume. If you choose to dry prune the buds, the sugar leaves can protect the buds.
Not all cannabis has sugar leaves, though, and whether yours does depends on the strain. If you don’t want your plants to grow sugar leaves just avoid strains that do.
Sugar leaves are great for cannabis concentrates and can even be smoked directly by the brave. Our use of sugar leaves often strikes me as emotional: farmers growing, drying, preserving, and using cannabis is nothing short of an art. When we use all parts of a cannabis plant we see a process that is beautiful. I’m really happy to be involved in this business and I find it so exciting, thanks for sticking with us! If you want to know more about growing cannabis, subscribe to our newsletter!
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