Terpenes: The Flavor of the week
Terpenes and flavonoids are the essence of what make our foods delicious, whether they be sweet, savory, spicy or even slightly bitter tasting. Fortunately we have the sense of smell and taste, and these senses work in unison to enhance our dining experience. Without these compounds our food would taste like bland white rice.
When most people cook with cannabis they are specifically seeking the active compounds like THC and CBD, with little regard for terpenes. Cannabis terpenes have been shown to have an entourage effect, and work in conjunction with other cannabinoids. Thanks to the booming movement of Molecular Gastronomy flavors and textures are being used in wild new ways, from foams to ice spheres. I feel this will translate to more and more people using specific and/ or cannabis terpenes as flavorings; especially as more states enact cannabis legalization, and regulation.
Terpenes are similar to the polyphenols found in wine and are the reason wines have different flavor notes, like chocolate or blackberries. This would be why so many people pair wine and cheese together. The acids and fermentation of wine compliment the acids and fermentation of different cheese which invoke a salty-sweet sensation on our senses.
The cannabis plant has a number of terpenes and flavor components, which give different strains their skunky, fruity or earthy tones; to name a few. These terpenes are also what give cannabis some flavor as well. Have you ever tried eat a little raw cannabis flower? Some phenotypes may be fruity, while others will have an intense peppery taste.
Author’s Note: You can get a euphoric feeling from eating raw cannabis, but it will be slightly different than had you smoked, vaped, or used a cannabis butter.
In Oregon, and the other medical and recreational states, we have testing labs that will give a breakdown of the terpene levels of strains and phenotypes. These results can be quite helpful, especially for medical cannabis users or those seeking the medicinal benefits of terpenes. Thanks to CO2 extraction we are seeing more and more cannabis terpene extracts, as most CO2 extractions separate the terpenes from the sought after active cannabinoids.
What if we used the terpene profiles from cannabis as a main flavor additive for different foods? We could use the citrus profiles from something like a Lime Haze for a citrus bar or a cheesecake. The same idea could be used for a savory recipe like a quiche or a red meat marinade, especially when using an earthy strain like ACDC.
Terpenes are extremely potent in their raw form. Think about the smell of an orange, which is mostly comprised of limonene, and how much the smell lingers and fills the room it was peeled in. Only a drop to a few drops is necessary to flavor a dish, depending on the dish. Something like an ice cream or a cheesecake would only need a drop or two, whereas a savory dish like a Beef Bourguignon would need a few drops to accent the already present flavors infused from the bouquet garni.
SInce I have already discussed cheesecake, and I am a huge fan of them, I am going to share with you a new type of cheesecake from our friends over in Japan, known as a Cotton Cheesecake. These cheesecakes are lighter and fluffier than the typical New York Cheesecake. A Cotton Cheesecake can be thought of as fusion between a chiffon cake and a cheesecake, where egg whites are used to lighten and leaven.
**Well I made the cheesecake, and unfortunately it was not palatable. I have a suspicion that the limonene and other citrus like terpenes were too volatile and vaporised in the baking process, because the batter tasted amazing!**
Since the cheesecake didn’t work out, but believe me I will try again, I have decided to share a recipe for a Lemon Haze Ice Cream, which can be made with or without an Ice Cream machine. You could also use any flavorings that you like, or any additions like chocolate chips, or peppermint pieces. This is really just a basic Vanilla Custard Ice Cream, and can be used as a base for any flavor you can think of
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 drops drops Lemon Haze Terpenes
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Prepare an ice bath: Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and some water. Place another, smaller bowl on top of the water, and place a strainer inside. Keep this close by while you make the ice cream base.
Whisk the yolks and sugar until pale lemon-yellow colored: If you haven't already done so, separate the yolks from the eggs. Combine the yolks and the sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until combined — at first the mixture will be very thick and dark yellow, then it will smooth out and lighten to a pale lemon-yellow color.
Warm the milk on the stovetop: Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Add the vanilla extract. Bring the milk to a simmer, then remove from heat. (Here is where you would add any cannabinoids. It would be preferable to use an extract or concentrate, but you could also use finely ground, decarboxylated flower too, just remember to strain the milk if using ground material)
Temper the egg-sugar mixture with 1 cup of hot milk: Scoop out about 1 cup of hot milk (no need to be exact). Slowly pour it into the egg-sugar mixture while whisking. This warms the eggs and prevents them from curdling in the next step.
Pour the tempered egg-sugar mixture into the milk: Slowly pour the tempered egg-sugar mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk.
Cook the ice cream base until thickened: Return the saucepan to the stove and place over low heat. Stir the mixture slowly, but constantly, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Keep cooking until the base has thickened enough to coat the back of the spatula and registers 170°F with an instant-read thermometer.
Strain the ice cream base into the bowl of the ice water bath. Straining will remove the vanilla pod and any bits of egg that may have accidentally curdled.
Stir the heavy cream into the ice cream base, and add your 2-3 drops of terpene
Chill completely: Leave the ice cream base over the ice water bath, stirring occasionally, until it's completely chilled. This will take about 20 minutes.
Once cooled pour the mixture into your stand mixer bowl, or your ice cream machine and follow your manufacturer's instructions.
If you are using just a bowl and a mixer, take your dry ice and crush into tiny pieces, it should look like fresh snow.
Turn your mixer on low speed and slowly add Dry ice one teaspoon at a time until thickened and frozen, usually no more than 2-3 teaspoons.
Use immediately or transfer to a container and freeze overnight
Ice Cream Machine (optional)
Stand Mixer, or Hand Mixer
1lb Dry Ice (not necessary if using an ice cream machine, and you can use the leftovers to make Fizzy Fruit!)