Cryo Cure CEO Tracee McAfee showcases the benefits of freeze drying in cannabis production.
For decades, freeze drying has been a long discussed, but never perfected, method for drying cannabis before curing. Supported by respected cannabis cultivation authorities such as Ed Rosenthal, freeze drying has been praised for its ability to preserve flower and reduce moisture content to reduce instances of mould and mildew.
But freeze drying has been a far from perfected method – until my partner Greg Baughman and I developed the patent pending Cryo Cure.
Our journey to perfect the cannabis drying and curing process began several years ago after admiring the healthy plants grown by Greg, who is a medical cannabis caregiver in the United States and now serves as President and Head of Cultivation at Cryo Cure. His flower was stunning: the trichomes glistening, the buds vibrant and heavy. I was disheartened to know that they would soon shrink and become unrecognisable shadows of their live plant selves. Was there a way to make it smokable without losing not just its beauty, but the integrity of the buds?
Drying and curing methods
This one-off thought opened a whole new world of drying and curing methodologies, in search of the one that contained the most promise to preserve cannabis flower in as close a state to fresh as possible. We bought a copy of Rosenthal’s Marijuana Grower’s Handbook, in which he extolled the virtues of freeze dried cannabis flower, calling it the best he ever had. Reading that book was our ‘eureka moment’. For someone as seasoned as Ed Rosenthal to endorse the freeze drying method, we knew there had to be something worthwhile to explore.
When we started to research the possibilities, Greg and I found the options to be few, far between, and woefully inadequate to produce consistent results. Many growers were experimenting with freeze drying units built for apple slices, not for the fragile and sensitive cannabis flower. Conditions inside the machines were so harsh the trichomes were snapping off, reducing the overall potency of the flower. The result was too dry, the bud crumbling in my hands. Plus, the machines themselves were not built to hold cannabis flower, squishing the buds in their narrow shelves. We learned the hard way that regular freeze drying units aren’t made for cannabis or hemp. That’s when Greg got to work tinkering with the settings.
After about a year of experimentation, Greg and I were comfortable enough to provide some of our ‘Cryo Cured’ flower to patients under Greg’s care in our home state of Michigan. The feedback was astonishing. Our patients couldn’t believe what they experienced. Not only were the flowers large, light, and a vivid green, but their medicine left them with an energetic feeling, one that I describe as ‘sparkly’ to any Cryo Cure newcomers.
The consumption experience was cough-less and non-irritating; one patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was delighted that their medicine no longer caused bouts of painful coughing.
There was one big reason for the energetic high: the Cryo Cure process prevents the degradation of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) into cannabinol (CBN), which causes the ‘couchlock’ effect. Greg and I have taken to calling Cryo Cured flower ‘live resin flower’, as our freeze drying process preserves freshness at its peak.
High THC cannabis and hemp flower dried and cured in a Cryo Cure machine has three hallmark traits:
- No flower shrinkage. The visual difference is what typically grabs the attention of a grower, processor or consumer for the first time. Cannabis and hemp which has gone through the Cryo Cure process has no flower shrinkage and is vibrant green. The typical bud is at least double the size of flower which has been traditionally dried and cured;
- No excess moisture. With Cryo Cure, the moisture content of each batch is brought down to between 8% and 12%, with settings that support moisture content as low as 0% to 1%; and
- Trichome preservation. The potency of Cryo Cure flower is second to none. Lab reports consistently show heightened levels of THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes.
This is because the Cryo Cure process doesn’t break off the precious trichomes, which house cannabis and hemp’s cannabinoid content. The trichomes stay intact and beautiful.
Cryo Cure machines do not allow any part of the flower to go to waste. Greg and I made sure to include terpene harvesting as a setting in our machines, so these valuable compounds can be collected, saved, and added back into other products.
The low moisture settings on Cryo Cure machines increase processing yield as well. Water is the enemy of any kind of hydrocarbon processing such as butane or CO2 extraction. By putting biomass through the Cryo Cure process, the moisture content can make its way to ultra-low points, as low as 1% or an astonishing 0%, resulting in a dramatic increase in extraction yields.
Perhaps the biggest impact, though, is the time saved: Cryo Cure takes only 24 hours from harvest to completion, shaving an average of three weeks off the production timeline. That means product gets to dispensary shelves in record time. It is a game changer at every stage of the cannabis or hemp supply chain.
Currently, Cryo Cure offers two models for cannabis or hemp drying and curing: one which accommodates between 30lb and 60lb of material; and a second which accommodates between 600lb and 1,200lb. Each one is equipped with a built-in deep freezer, which freezes the cannabis to temperatures between -20°F and -30°F (approximately -29°C to -34°C).
As word travels about Cryo Cure, we’ve attracted some impressive endorsements from some of the cannabis industry’s leading figures, including High Times cultivation editor Danny Danko, who was so impressed with Cryo Cured flower that he introduced us to Ed Rosenthal himself. It was a true full circle moment for us to have the man who inspired our journey express support for Cryo Cure. Since then, cannabis advocate Rick Naya has also experienced Cryo Cure and endorsed our process and flower.
Gathering support from such legendary cannabis growers and advocates was not an easy feat, considering how much they have seen, tried and experienced over their decades in the cannabis space. To earn the respect of three of the cannabis industry’s heaviest hitters, you need to come to the table with something that’s better than great – and we have found that with Cryo Cure.
Tracee McAfee is the CEO of Cryo Cure, a cannabis drying and curing technology company which utilises the patent pending, freeze drying-based Cryo Cure process for cannabis and hemp flower. To learn more about Cryo Cure, including photos, comparisons, and lab reports for Cryo Cured flower, visit www.cryocure.com.