Dear Stoner: My outdoor garden is finishing soon. What is the best way to store herb, and how long will it stay fresh?
The Hemp Herm
Dear H.H.: The most important thing is learning how to cure your buds properly. It's a detailed, scientific process, but the general idea is to let them dry out in an open, breezy space until they feel crisp to the touch on the outside, but before the stems are brittle enough to snap off. Next, put them in airtight containers, opening them every 24 hours or so to "burp" the remaining moisture that is slowly releasing from the buds. Continue the process until you've hit about 55 percent relative humidity (that's on the dry end).
At that point, you can store your ganja — though you'll still need to give the jars a burping every week for the first month or so and at least once a month after that. Miniature hydrometers, which you can keep in the jars themselves, help dial in the buds to perfect moisture levels to keep them fresh and avoid mold. We don't suggest using the humidity-controlling packs, however; they tend to add moisture after it's too late, resulting in moist, uncured buds. (There are excellent threads and forums with detailed humidity information at icmag.com and thcfarmer.com.)
Ask a Stoner
As for storage, there is no single "best" solution. But keep in mind that light, temperature and air are the enemy. Airtight Ball canning jars work well for storage and come in sizes ranging from eight ounces to a half-gallon. You can find them at craft stores and canning stores; prices are usually low this time of year, when everyone is canning summer veggies and fruits. To eliminate light, keep the jars in cardboard boxes (wine boxes from the local liquor store are a free option) or store them in a cabinet. Temperature control is important to keep any mold at bay, but freezing your buds will just make the plants (and, more important, the trichomes) brittle — and you'll end up with crumbly, kiefed herb when you handle it to replenish your stash every few weeks. But you do want to keep those buds cool. Some people suggest keeping them in a fridge, but here in Colorado, a basement is a good spot — though we suggest burping the jars upstairs, as basements tend to have damper air than the rest of the house. If you don't have a good basement, try a cool closet on an interior wall.
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If you've done everything right, you can easily store buds for a year or longer without any problems. And if you've followed the curing process correctly, they'll come out tastier and tastier each time you pop open your head stash.