I love the smell of fresh cracked pepper. That step of seasoning a beautiful New York Striploin is poetic when you consider all you really need to make that piece of meat pop is a little salt & pepper. The aroma you get from fresh cracked pepper comes from the terpene Beta-Caryophyllene. One of the 5 most commonly found terpenes in cannabis, Beta-Caryophyllene offers an array of medical benefits; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, muscle pain and insomnia relief and has a therapeutic effect as an appetite suppressant. We find Beta-Caryophyllene not only in peppercorns but also rosemary, cloves, basil & hops and it’s aroma is one of peppery, woody, herbal & cloves.
Like all terpenes, Beta-Caryophyllene needs to be added at the right time, with the right application, when using it in recipes. With a boiling point of 266 degrees Fahrenheit (130 °C), it falls much lower than the other terpenes we find in cannabis like Limonene, Pinene & Myrcene to name a few. This means adding Beta-Caryophyllene to any sauce with heat means we will lose any therapeutic properties the terpene offers. The more I work with terpenes in an R&D environment, the better I understand how to apply them properly. I have found that salad dressings, ice creams and garnishes offer the best vessel to deliver them with their full impact. I recently made a Mint Pea Nage to pair with salmon that I was able to add Beta-Pinene too. Because a Nage is served at room temperature, I was able to wait until the Nage cooled before adding the Pinene. The difference in flavor of adding the terpene before heating and adding after is very noticeable. When a terpene has evaporated, the flavor left behind is a bitter perfume that is not enjoyable to the palette. Terpenes that are not used correctly will ruin a sauce quickly and have you back at square one needing to remake it.
Knowing these traits of Beta-Caryophyllene and the other terpenes we find in the cannabis plant, we need to find the best way to utilize their medical properties. The question of “Why would someone want cannabis in their food?” is easily answered with the therapeutic and medical benefits that the plant can offer. To demonstrate this to skeptics we need to present infused foods in a different light. Though a large portion of people use edibles for the psychoactive effects of THC, the real gains of culinary cannabis will be made by offering health focused dishes using CBD. Cannabis is a superfood and when we combine it with other super foods like ginger, turmeric and dark leafy greens, it’s hard to deny its positive impact on the body. By being able to offer a dish using cannabis that does not have any psychoactive effects, which focuses on healthy nutritional ingredients, we can help answer that question of “why someone would want cannabis in their food?” and little by little change the minds of those who doubt that Cannabis is a Super Food.