Cooking With Terpenes
Myrcene is a green and herbaceous smelling monoterpene. As far as we know, myrcene is the most abundant monoterpene in cannabis and has sedative and muscle relaxant effects, making it great to infuse into a late dinner or late-night snack when you’re in for the evening. An easy way to mix myrcene into a recipe is by simply adding some mango or mango juice into it, or on the side. Myrcene also naturally occurs in thyme, lemongrass, and basil.
Myrcene is a key ingredient in hops (a cousin of cannabis in the plant family) and also an excellent terpene to infuse into alcoholic beverages for one reason; myrcene’s ability to alter the permeability of the blood brain barrier. Currently, there are no verified scientific reports to verify this characteristic, however it is commonly believed and demonstrated often with mangoes. Mangoes contain ß-myrcene, a linear (non-cyclic) monoterpene, which is thought to allow increased transport of cannabinoids into the brain. For this reason, myrcene can have great benefits in alcohol, allowing the consumer to feel the effects more dramatically with less of the liquor. Less alcohol, less money spent, for more of a buzz. It’s economical.
Myrcene is a great addition in savory dishes and pairs well with herbs like thyme, bay leaves, eucalyptus, and hops. Myrcene is probably best in dishes with sweet and savory notes like maple glazed carrots or a mixed greens, mango, and pineapple vinaigrette. Do not cook myrcene at a temperature higher than 332 °F. This level of heat will completely vaporize the compound leaving little to no trace of it in the dish.
• Grape Ape
• Pure Kush
• Granddaddy Purple
• White Widow
• Jack Herer
• OG Kush
• White Widow
• Blue Dream
D-Limonene is one of the more commonly used terpenes in cooking, as it adds a lemony zest as well as anti-anxiety and anti-depression benefits, potentially leaving you with stimulated taste buds, a full belly and a rejuvenated spirit. One drip of the stuff on your tongue will leave you salivating and squinching with flavor. Limonene is found in lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, and even cannabis. A lemon’s tart, satisfying sensation on your taste-buds is mostly due to this delicious terpene, which gives many cannabis strains their citrusy aroma.
It’s truly fascinating to consider, from an evolutionary standpoint, where these flavors come from. Many plants produce limonene to help protect them against harmful microbes, which is where the citrus-smelling terpene’s antioxidant and antibacterial effects also come from, which has been well-documented. Plants that produce terpenes like limonene, use its bitter smelling compound to deter predators and continue breeding and evolving. This defense mechanism is known as an anti-predator adaptation, defined as a mechanism developed through evolution which assists prey organisms in their constant struggle against predators.
Winemakers like to say that “grape vines must suffer to make good wine.” Hot days and bitterly cold nights are stressful on the plant and create volatile compounds known as proanthocyanidins. These volatiles, like terpenes, are flavonoids which provide the flavor, and are much more expressed by the plant and abundant in presence when the plant is stressed. All of this to say, there is a direct relationship between the plant’s stress and our satisfaction. The more the plant thinks it is going to die or the closer the plant actually comes to death, the stronger the scent, the more abundant the flavor, and the higher the concentration of terpenes. Thus, the more physiological benefit we receive from these plants. There’s poetic beauty in our relationship with these plants. It’s a yin yang. The greater suffering in the plant, the greater the benefit we recieve upon consumption.
Beyond limonene’s abilities to protect its host plant, it also has an impact on human brain function which scientists are working to better understand for the treatment of a variety of ailments—primarily anxiety and other mental health disorders.
Cooking limonene at a temperature beyond 348 °F will vaporize the compound and leave your oven and kitchen smelling citrusy but will have completely vanished from the dish.
• Hindu Kush
• Cookies and Cream
• Gorilla Glue #4
• Banana Kush
• SFV OG
• Super Lemon Haze
• Sour Diesel
• Emerald Jack
• Dirty Girl
This lemon terpene pairs well with citrus fruits and herbal teas. Try it in a crispy artichoke cake with herb aioli, or another dish which features lemon juice or lemon rind. Limonene can also brighten the flavor in a ricotta pineapple soufflé. Add a drop or two to the dish to illuminate its secondary or tertiary citrus flavor. Limonene is a popular cooking terpene, but make sure not to heat it over its boiling point of 348 °F.
Caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene and has a variety of natural aromas ranging from woody to spicy to a peppery scent. Beta-caryophyllene is another terpene which binds to the CBG2 receptor which providing anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and analgesic effects.
ß-Caryophyllene is the main flavor constituent of black pepper and has been used as a beer adulterant in bygone years; it produced a ‘stinging sear’ on the palate that the buyer was meant to mistake for alcoholic strength. This is ironic because caryophyllene is shown to reduce voluntary alcohol intake in mice, so it may be beneficial in reducing overall alcohol dependence for those trying to cut back on boozing or those trying to quit altogether. This trait makes it a perfect substitute for an alcoholic beverage.
The terpene’s signature biting scent has an evolutionary purpose behind it. Caryophyllene is released by plants to deter predatory insects. A once appetizing meal becomes a foul smelling, repulsive plant to the predatory insect. The plant’s semiochemicals also attracts other insects and predators of the originally attacking insect to attack and consume it as a way of defense. Caryophyllene not only masks the plant in an unappetizing odor but also manipulates other insects to serve essential as a bodyguard when needed. Plants are a lot more sophisticated than we think.
Overall, caryophyllene is a great ingredient as it has a stinging, spicy flavor with a slew of positive physiological benefits. Also, a great tool to add if you or an acquaintance have ingested too much cannabis.
BCP’s earthy and woody smell pairs best with black pepper, cloves, basil, oregano, and cinnamon. Try adding a drop or two to a peppery Cambodian beef lok lak, Philly cheesesteak or even black peppercorn syrup stewed vanilla ice cream. Caryophyllene’s vaporization temperature is 266 °F.
Strains with high b-cp inlude:
• Original Glue/Gorilla Glue #4
• Girl Scout Cookies
Pinene has a fresh, invigorating aroma and can boost focus and improve short-term memory. Its bright and bitter taste works best in savory dishes like French onion soup or ribeye steak with sautéed mushrooms.
• Grape Ape
• Pineapple Express
• OG Kush
Pinene vaporizes at 311 °F so make sure not to cook it above such temperature. The cannabis strain UW has 62% pinene in its terpene profile, making it the most pinene-filled strain out there, by nearly a factor of two. According to Leafly, the next most concentrated strain is AK-47 with 32%.
Just a whiff of linalool can reduce anxiety and stress. It’s floral fragrance is anti-inflammatory and aids in pain management. It is a great addition to foods with a minty flavor profile like peppermint patties or lemon mint pesto. Linalool vaporizes at 388 °F.
• Granddaddy Purple
• Pure Kush
• LA Confidential
• Kosher Kush
• OG Shark
• Sour Kush
• Fire OG
Terpinolene has a multilayered aroma with an array of smells common in cannabis; floral, piney, herbaceous, and citrusy. The scent is very clean and fresh, and for that reason terpinolene is an ingredient in many soaps and fragrances. Terpinolene is one of the least common terpenes in cannabis but plays an integral role in determining the scent and flavor of the plant. Extracted from tea tree, apples, nutmeg, conifers, and lilacs, the terpene has a sleepy effect and a proven sedative effect on mice. This quality makes terpinolene a great ingredient in a late dinner or midnight snack, especially during periods of restless, sleepless nights. Terpinolene vaporizes at 366°F.
• Pineapple Jack
• Jean Guy