Freezing the best cannabis buds is the number one step to have a killer ice water hash. Here, we'll tell you more about it, teach you how to make your own fresh frozen and get better yields.
Years and years ago, if you told a farmer you wanted to freeze their weed, they'd think you were completely insane. But now, in the ice water hash era, it has become a full-power industry itself! Hash makers want the best cannabis options to create clean, live concentrates, with fresh terpenes - and the fresh frozen material is what makes all of this magic possible.
Fresh frozen extractions can provide a different and fantastic consumer experience, with a high-potency, flavorful concentrated product that reflects the plant quality and its own uniqueness. We like to say that they are the truest expression of the strain that's chosen, so you gotta take a few things into consideration before you decide to freeze your crop.
Come with us to learn more about it!
What is fresh frozen?
The standard air-drying method has been around for a really long time. While the process to make it can vary, the general concept involves hanging the harvested cannabis plants, stripping it of the larger leaves, and allowing it to dry in a dark room under a certain temperature and humidity level for days - or even weeks.
The fresh frozen method, on the other hand, takes the cannabis plant and removes all the water leaves, branches, and stems right after harvest. Then, the farmer or trimmer takes these fresh buds and seals them in a food grade bin with a lid, usually weighing one to four pounds each. These sealed bud bins then get placed into an industrial freezer set at -38 F, keeping all the wonderful terpenes and cannabinoids fresh until it's ready for use.
With fresh frozen, the biggest difference is that you'll have all of the contents of your plant alive, without passing through any kind of transformation. You won't lose terpenes or good cannabinoids, and, through your hash, you'll be able to deliver all this greatness to the consumer.
What to observe when harvesting fresh frozen?
Harvesting for fresh frozen can be a little different than for the flower itself, but the two processes can go hand in hand. But, before that, make sure that you:
Choose the best strains for it.
To pick an excellent plant to make fresh frozen, you gotta choose your cultivar correctly. First, you'll want those fruity, tropical, gassy, or exotic profiles, full of amazing terpenes. And the second and most important thing is to make sure that your plant has fully developed thricome glands. Also, choose great hash plants, so they can have a proper yield when working with the material for extraction.
Do the testing.
Make sure you test the yield of the plant to make sure it's viable for hash and extractions. You can make it with a ball jar, water and ice: just put a small sample of your cannabis there, shake it and check the results after letting it sit in a cold environment. A good amount of fresh frozen cannabis to use is 20 wet grams, this is because a 5% return would yield about one gram of hash which is a common amount people are used to seeing and can compare too. You'll be able to see the quality of the glands, how easy they can be extracted and even check the maturity of your plant through the hash that falls to the bottom of the ball jar. A good fresh frozen strain normally yields 3 - 7%. But we are always looking for the unicorns that yield over 5%!
Diversify your harvest.
A good suggestion is: take your tops for the flower market, and the rest can become fresh frozen. This way, you can supply two kinds of products that go to different industries. This separation can be done at the same time and make your work more valuable. It’s also good to plan your crops before you are ready to harvest, devoting some canopy with select strains that will be going to fresh frozen, can help mitigate over production and free precious drying space for top shelf flower.
Quality in, quality out.
Many people in the industry can say that fresh frozen is a good way to "save" bad weed, with mold, PM, or bug damage. We don't believe this is true: if you want your fresh frozen to become an incredible concentrate, you gotta let those ones go. It hurts, we know it - but you won't want anything to jeopardize your product and its value.
How to harvest for fresh frozen:
Since the idea of fresh frozen is to harvest and freeze your cannabis as fast as you can to conserve all of the trichomes and its contents, there are a few tricks to make it a bit easier:
- Harvest only what you can trim. Since you wanna keep the buds as fresh as possible, the goal is to chop-chop fast and precisely, while keeping your plant alive for as long as it's possible. So cut only a few branches each time, and never do it in advance. If your plants start to wilt before you can process them into their final storage bag, this is a sign things are taking too long and getting the material in the bag sooner and into the freezer will help mitigate yield loss and damaging trichomes.
- Take only what doesn't have trichomes. To trim it, all you need to do is remove the fan leaves and any tips of smaller ones without the glands. Try to look at the branch upside down, so you can follow the plant structure..
- Hold the stem, never the bud. Avoid touching any surface of the flowers or sugar leaves - that can cause damage to the trichome glands, and we want to keep them intact.
- Buck down on top of a clean food grade bin. You gotta have a clean surface to buck down your buds. Our tip is to make it directly on top of a food grade bin- so, if any trichomes break free from the plant, they'll be captured inside of it.
- The perfect bud is the same size as a quarter coin. That'll make washing the plant way easier, since it allows the trichomes to have a greater contact surface with water. While cutting it, cut the buds from the bottom up and from the base of the stem, cutting into the flowers is not advised. This prevents your hash from getting contaminated with plant matter.
- Always mark down your bins. Strain, date, weight… Write down everything on the bin or make some tags so your bags don't get mixed up.
- Make sure you close your food grade bin with a lid properly. It’s important not to smash the buds in the bag but also close the bag tight enough so there’s no air exchange with the environment. We want those terps!
- Carefully place it in your freezer. Try not to smash the buds together! Once you damage the flowers, it's easier to crush them while washing and getting contaminants all over your concentrate. Also, you don’t want to overpack your freezer for this same reason.
- Freeze for at least 24h. You have to wait until the buds are completely frozen before you can wash them - as you know, temperature is the key to a good ice water hash. We'd wait at least 48h to use them!
With a great quality fresh frozen and a good set of bags, you'll be ready to deliver some of the best products to your customers! Always remember: quality in, quality out. Make sure to use these tips and you'll ace any harvest!
Any doubts about this process? Tell us in the comments below or come ask us at our Instagram @icextractequipment.