Gummies are a perfect product for children, whimsical in color, texture, and shape. But if you had asked me at eight years old how gummies are made, my answer would be the same as if you asked me at 28. Gummies are a food that seem antithetical to a culinary education. They aren’t cooked; to me, they have always just existed. The process of how they come into this world is something I have never sought more information about.
But there is a growing interest in gummies for adults. Weed candy—the adult version of Flintstone vitamins, essentially—is only growing in popularity as marijuana’s legality expands and is further normalized nationwide. Cannabis-infused treats are no longer the domain of your burnout cousin. With more popularity (and increased financial success), non-smokable marijuana products are receiving more attention and care.
Now, a cookbook designed specifically for the expanding world of pot dessert has been released. The Weed Gummies Cookbook by Monica Lo was published in August 2022. According to Lo, “This user-friendly cookbook [is] designed to build your culinary cannabis repertoire and help you feel empowered to make your edibles at home.”
Lo has an interesting story about using cannabis in cooking. Experiencing a herniated spinal disk, she found relief not from doctor-prescribed opioids but from an edible. She then created the cooking blog Sous Weed, “dedicated to using cannabis as a superfood ingredient as opposed to merely a psychoactive additive.”
This effort to understand cannabis in a new way and expand its perception as an ingredient has led to some interesting discoveries. In the preface of The Weed Gummies Cookbook, Lo gives a brief history of the plant’s long life in cultures across the world.
“Deep-diving into history, I was shocked to discover that the medicinal properties of cannabis were first recorded in Pen Ts’ao, a Chinese pharmacological book written in the second century,” Lo writes. “Not only was cannabis regarded as a foundational herb in ancient Chinese medicine, but it was also widely used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and India.”
The Takeout was able to speak with Monica Lo regarding her new cookbook, the benefits of DIY edibles, and taking cannabis cooking to the next level.
The Takeout: Why would someone want to make their own gummies as opposed to store-bought?
Monica Lo: Good question! For one, it’s far more cost effective to make your own infusions and treats at home, especially as dispensary prices are on the rise due to a variety of reasons, from taxes to operating costs. Dispensary edibles often have preservatives to extend their shelf life—but when you DIY, you can make your edibles without the commercial preservatives and also customize the dosage to your body’s needs. Plus, they make great holiday gifts.
TO: Your blog, Sous Weed, is a play on the French cooking term “sous vide.” What is sous vide as a cooking process and why is it helpful for cooking weed?
ML: Sous vide refers to the process of placing your food in a bag or airtight jar and cooking it at a precise temperature in a pot of water. Since the cannabis flower and cooking oil are sealed in an airtight bag and placed underwater to infuse, there’s no smell. Plus, I can make multiple cannabis infusions at once, using all my favorite cannabis strains. I would use these infusions in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.
All you need to do is set the temperature on your sous vide machine, seal your ingredients up, and drop it into the water. You can walk away and go about your day without worrying about overcooking your cannabis or stinking up the house.
This is how Sous Weed was born. My sous vide cannabis experiments ended up helping me manage my back pain, and by documenting it on my blog, doors opened for me to collaborate with really amazing people and brands in the cannabis industry.
TO: What is one of the biggest mistakes that people cooking cannabis-infused food for the first time make?
ML: You might feel intimidated if you’re dipping your toes in, but the easiest way to infuse cannabis is to make a simple alcohol-based tincture, which doesn’t require any special tools. You can then use that tincture to make infused sugar for your gummies and candies.
Safety and responsible consumption is very important for me to harp on. If you’re concerned about dosages, the recipes in my cookbook are designed to be low dose and snackable. The important thing is to use lab-tested cannabis flower so you can do some estimations on how much to use to get the dosage you want. Once you are comfortable with cannabis cooking, you can add more cannabis flower or use a more potent strain in your infusions.
TO: Gummies (weed-infused or otherwise) have never struck me as culinary. I’m sure this is my own bias or ignorance. For someone looking to experiment with cooking cannabis for the first time, what is exciting about the process? What is worthwhile about it?
ML: We’ve come a long way from the acrid pot brownie days. My aim is to treat cannabis as a superfood ingredient, and my blog is filled with sweet and savory recipes highlighting cannabis in all its forms. You’ll get a variety of phytocannabinoid benefits from consuming cannabis in its raw or cooked state.
A few years back, I collaborated on a Stem-to-Seed Dinner (a play on nose-to-tail dining) with MARY Magazine where we used the whole cannabis plant for the meal. My team and I really wanted to push ourselves to be creative. Hemp seed was used in the bread and grissini. The cannabis root was infused in a sous vide amaro. The mackerel Crudo was cured with kief. The cannabis plant stems were used to make fresh ricotta cheese. The raw cannabis leaves were used in a gremolata and also soy-pickled. Finally, for the pièce de résistance, a capon and guinea hen roulade was smoked in a chamber with cannabis flower. It was a culinary challenge for sure and such a memorable dinner.
TO: In the introduction to your book, I was really interested in the paragraph on the history of cannabis use in cooking. What does it mean to add to this legacy? How do you feel like you’re leaving your unique mark?
ML: I had the honor of presenting some research on Cannabis in Ancient Asia (with a focus on East Asia) at the Asian Art Museum back in 2019. This versatile plant evolved about 28 million years ago on the eastern Tibetan Plateau. More than 4,000 years ago, Chinese farmers used it for oil and fibers. Over 2,500 years ago, the Chinese used it for medicinal, spiritual, and recreational purposes. Believe it or not, cannabis is our ancestral medicine.
With normalization of cannabis use comes legalization. With legalization comes more medical research on how cannabis can be used as a therapeutic agent. I am happy to be part of that movement in destigmatizing cannabis use, especially within the AAPI community.
It’s so important for us to understand the history of cannabis, not just the origins, but also how communities of color in the US have been disproportionately harmed by the failed War on Drugs. There are too many people still incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses, and I hope to help by donating a portion of the profits of The Weed Gummies Cookbook semiannually to The Last Prisoner Project to support criminal justice reform and drug policy reform.