In the past few years, the use of cannabis in cooking has become increasingly popular and controversial. As of October 17, 2019, all restaurants and commercial kitchens in Canada will be able to produce edible cannabis products (i.e. cannabis-infused meals) and serve them to their customers just like any other traditional dish.
While this prospect may sound attractive to cannabis enthusiasts, this new initiative comes with many intricacies that you as a restaurant owner should be aware of, should you decide to include cannabis-infused dishes on your menu. Essentially, all products and/or meals sold to customers that contain cannabis must be packaged and labeled accordingly. Additionally, they must be placed in child-resistant containers with labels that display a clear health warning.
A 2017 survey from Dalhousie University revealed that, from a sampling of 1,087 participants, almost 40% of Canadians would purchase edible cannabis goods in a restaurant setting. These numbers are impressive and tell us that you’d be missing out on business if you’re not open to offering some of these dishes.
Read on to see how you can stay ahead of the curve and take advantage of this opportunity by opening yourself up to the idea of serving cannabis products in your restaurant.
Cooking With Cannabis – How is it Done?
So how is this done? When we say “cannabis-infused products” you may have a general idea of what sort of dishes this may apply to, but how should you go about it?
The simplest way to incorporate cannabis into your dishes is by using cannabis-infused oil. Think about all of the dishes, from appetizers to entrees, that require oil as either a base or core ingredient. The only challenge here is that cannabis has somewhat of a bitter taste, so you and your kitchen staff have to be very thoughtful as to what dishes you incorporate it into and how those flavors mesh with this very distinct one.
Check out this a great recipe to get you started that details how to create cannabis-infused cooking oil:
- 6 cups extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
- 1 ounce cannabis buds or 2 ounces of leaf trim, dried and ground until fine.
- Slowly heat the cooking oil on low heat for 4-6 minutes, or until the smell begins to come through.
- Add a pinch of cannabis to the oil and then stir until it is fully mixed.
- Continue adding cannabis until it is all completely mixed into the oil.
- Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool before straining.
- Press the cannabis against a metal strainer with the back of a spoon to wring all the oil out of it.
From there, you can use the oil in any and all dishes since it is such a popular and widely used ingredient. Feeling inspired? Here are some other dishes that can be infused with cannabis:
- Sorbet and ice cream
- Chicken wings with cannabis-infused sauces
- Brownies and cookies
- Pasta and cannabis-infused sauces
- Pizza with cannabis-infused sauces and dough
Cannabis Food Events
Industry leaders are beginning to catch on to this trend and have been hosting and participating in events centered around the use of cannabis in restaurant dishes. The activities at these events vary, but the idea is to discover new methods of creating cannabis-infused dishes and incorporating them into your menu. Some events even offer cannabis-free food while simultaneously suggesting cannabis pairings. Think of a wine tasting but with cannabis. These events can be incredibly informative and can open you up to entirely new possibilities about food and how you can use cannabis easily and effectively in both existing and new dishes.
Nutrition Labelling Cannabis Edibles
If this prospect sounds exciting to you and you think it will align with your business goals, let’s take a step back and remember that with any new initiative, especially one that has many complexities and effects what consumers are putting into their bodies, there are always going to be strict regulations to follow.
As a restaurant or bakery owner, or any leader in the food industry, it is extremely important that you are aware of these regulations and abide by them appropriately. While these rules and regulations have not been officially laid out, here are some basic things that you should keep in mind:
- On your menu, be sure your customers know the THC levels of the foods they are eating. Just as it is important for you to inform your customers how many carbs, fats and sugars are in a certain dish, so is this.
- Understand that, depending on the size and body composition of the customer, you will have to adjust the dosage that is included in the dish. This requires a lot of attention to detail and individualizing each dish. If you are going to commit to serving cannabis in your dishes, you are going to have to adjust to running your business with a customer-specific approach to an extreme.
- Lastly, continue to do your research on this topic and even see what other restaurants who have started to successfully implement this ingredient are doing. Stay on top of any news regarding legislation around it and ultimately, make sure you are well informed.
How can MenuSano help you in your quest to incorporate cannabis into your menu? As we just mentioned, it is incredibly important to inform your customers about the THC levels of the foods they are eating. By utilizing MenuSano’s nutrition analysis software, you will be able to measure this and create customized labels for each dish that accurately reflect these levels. Customers will appreciate the fact that you are taking this seriously and doing your best to make sure that they are enjoying this food safely.
In addition to this specific ingredient, MenuSano nutritional analysis software details the total amount of calories in the serving and the serving size as well as the fat and carbohydrate breakdown in terms of fiber and sugar. It also shows protein, sodium, and vitamins A & C as well as calcium and iron.
By utilizing this software you have the opportunity to provide customers with the nutrition information of your dishes up front, including ingredients of interest such as cannabis. With this knowledge, customers can make informed decisions on what they want to order and how much of it.