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 Should I Do With My Sugar Leaf Trim?
Once upon a time long before bubble bags were available and the hash and extracts seen were almost non-existent, 99% of home growers would discard their leftover leaves and lower buds. Nowadays many growers go to extreme lengths to produce the finest hash and extracts on the planet, so below you will learn what can be done with your leftovers, how to make hash and why you should never throw them away ever again.
1. What Is Sugar Leaf?
This basically refers to the leaves that are closest to the buds, meaning they will have the most resin content. Sometimes fan leaves can even display resin, however, the majority of the time, it is the smallest leaves that are closely packed around the buds.
As the name suggests, these leaves will hold many precious trichomes clustered around the leaf. They will also have the same quality terpene profile as the buds and should be delicately collected.
2. Drying and Trimming Cannabis Plants
There are two main methods of drying and trimming Cannabis plants. One method involves trimming every leaf meticulously when the plants are freshly harvested. This is known as wet trimming and can be very time demanding.
The benefits associated with wet trimming are:
– The grower can make fresh frozen hash or extracts. This means the cannabinoids in the plant have not got decarboxylated and have the same terpene profile as when freshly harvested.
– If making B.H.O, then the end product again will be classed as live resin and a highly desirable smoke.
– Buds can be cut down to an identical consistency, then placed onto a mesh drying net to be aired out for the duration of the drying process. As the main stems and stalks containing most of the moisture are not present the drying process is speeded up.
– It is easily possible to make a fresh frozen isolator using bubble sieving bags, ice and water to smoke before your crop is close to being dry.
The other method is dry trimming meaning there is no hands-on trimming performed until the buds are fully dry, after 10-14 days hanging in a temperature-controlled environment. Dry trimming should be done over a sifting screen to collect all of the falling trichome heads.
The benefits associated with dry trimming are:
– The dry sift on the collecting screens can be collected and pressed into a ready to smoke a piece of hash (as opposed to having to wait for the isolator to dry).
– The buds have fully dried meaning they have decarboxylated and are now rich in THC and contain a different end flavor due to the change in cannabinoid profile.
– Sifting tumblers are an excellent way to produce trichome heads, and can be done with dry buds, or dry sugar leaf.
– It is possible to press the dry sift pollen into rosin using a micron mesh filter, parchment paper, and a rosin press.
3. Choosing To Make Hash
So you have decided to follow the traditional hash making methods used around the world for hundreds of years. Deciding on which hash is the best suited for you, can be down to the equipment needed, as well as your skill level and understanding of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Ice Water Hash Explained
This requires using a set of micron sieving bags that range from 220 micron down to as little as 25 micron. You will also need to use cold water and fresh ice. Making ice water hash can be done with either fresh frozen trim which means the leaves and buds were immediately frozen, or with dry material.
In order to make top-quality ice wash hash you will need the following:
Bubble sieving bags ranging from 220 micron – 180 micron
Fresh frozen trim / lightly frozen dry trim
A washing machine for your plant material and ice and water
2 buckets to filter your water through
A high-pressure hose with shower head
Plenty of ice cubes
A spoon and utensils to scoop the hash up
A plate/parchment paper to rest the wet hash
Dry Sifting Explained
The best way to think about this method is to relate to the traditional drum beating style, incorporated by the Moroccans. Of course, we are able to take things a step further and in the privacy of our own homes, gently rub our dry material over the micron screens. These screens will be heavy-duty similar to a silk printing screen and will allow a cleanup process to occur, meaning the end product will be full melt quality.
In order to make a top-quality dry sift pollen, all you need is:
Dry plant material of leaves or buds
A various screen that will allow the plant material to be cleaned up
Plastic credit card-sized tools for moving the material over the screen
Working in a cold environment to encourage more agitation
Parchment paper or a clean surface to collect the fallen trichome heads.
4. What About Extraction?
As we take things one step further from traditional hash making, we can begin to talk about extracts and the difference between hash and extraction. Many would say hash and extracts are the same, however, a hash is made from the entire trichome and plant essence contained from 120-25 micron.
B.H.O or rosin actually removes the terpenes and cannabinoids like sap from a tree. The body of the trichomes is discarded and removed from the final product. If you think about it like cracking an egg and removing the yolk, then this is what is called wax.
Butane Honey Oil is a method that involves running butane through a closed-loop system and blasting fresh frozen or dry material. The butane is then removed using a temperature-controlled vacuum over and purged of all solvents that were used in the process.
Rosin is the most recent advancement in producing a solventless extraction, and uses micron bags and parchment paper, with heat and pressure to squeeze out the essential oils.
5. Top 3 Recommended Strains For Hash Making and Extracts
When it comes to producing next level hashes and extracts, we got you covered with the tastiest, frosties and most rewarding autoflowering strains around:
Once upon a time long before bubble bags were available and the hash and extracts seen were almost non-existent, 99% of home growers would discard their leftove