Sugar Leaves: What They Are & What To Do With Them
Before you go on and roll a sugar leaf joint, there are a few things you should know! Let’s get into the best ways to use your sugar leaves.
Cultivators are always looking for ways to maximise the utility of every single part of the cannabis plant. This includes utilising trim for various purposes, which ultimately involves extracting cannabinoids for consumption. But there are parts of the cannabis plant that fall in a grey area of whether they should be considered trim or smokable. These are the sugar leaves.
You might not know what they are by name, but you’ve certainly seen them on your cannabis plants! Some growers trim them completely from the buds, but others will just leave them on for reasons you’ll soon understand. Let’s get a better sense of what sugar leaves are, and what they’re used for.
WHAT THEY ARE
Sugar leaves are small leaves that grow out of your buds. They aren’t the large fan leaves you see protruding from branches on the plant. These can be easily distinguished. For starters, you’ll most likely be able to locate the stems of your fans leaves. Sugar leaves, however, are more hidden, with only their tips peaking through. The title “sugar leaves” comes from the white coating of delicious trichomes they have at the end of the flowering phase. While fan leaves also have trichomes, they are far less concentrated and therefore, less potent. However, fan leaves can still be used when making edibles.
Different strains will have different amounts of sugar leaves with different amounts of trichomes. And these traits are not correlated. Having more sugar leaves does not mean more trichomes, nor will resinous flower automatically signal more sugar leaves. Their size will also vary a lot. Sometimes they’ll cover the bud, while other times, they’ll barely peek through the flower. This will also be affected by how their size compares to that of the bud.
On the other hand, there seems to be a relation between the number of leaves and the size of the buds. When the buds are larger, they tend to contain fewer sugar leaves. But when the buds are smaller, they will have more sugar leaves. Why this happens is still a mystery, but growers have reported a noticeable trend.
ARE THEY SMOKABLE?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. It’s up to you as a grower to make the decision. Some growers will choose to leave them on for the extra weight. On certain strains, the sugar leaves will even make the buds more visually appealing due to the abundance of trichomes on them. They will also help the drying process happen more naturally.
On the other hand, sugar leaves will absolutely yield a harsher smoke. If you smoke them by themselves, the joint or bowl you pack will not taste good, nor will it be smooth on your throat. Although containing THC, sugar leaves are less concentrated than the flower and contain excess amounts of chlorophyll and other trace elements that contribute to a plant-like taste. Also, you’ll have to grind a larger weight than usual to feel the same high with sugar leaves. If you so choose to smoke them, you’re best leaving the leaves on the buds and grinding them with the flower as you go. This way, it will increase your volume of smoke without having too much of an unpleasant effect on the experience.
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR SUGAR LEAVES
The decision to smoke sugar leaves will partially depend on the amount you have. If, after curing, you feel they aren’t that present on your buds, you might as well leave them. They won’t be worth the trouble of trimming further. But in case you’ve decided the cons of smoking sugar leaves outweigh the pros, here’s what you can do with them.
MAKE A BATCH OF CANNABUTTER
Although sugar leaves aren’t too strong on their own, they offer a potent high when their trichomes are extracted and condensed.
This quintessential cooking extract can be infused into just about any recipe imaginable, from cakes and cookies to salad dressings and pasta dishes. Here’s how to make it:
· 28g trimmed sugar leaves
· 250g salted butter
· 300ml tap water (add another 50ml for every hour the mixture is left simmering)
· Kitchen knife (or a blender)
· Storage container
· Measuring jug
Wondering if you should smoke your sugar leaves? We'll help you decide, and give you some other great uses for sugar leaves.
How to Use Sugar Leaves?
For many growers, obtaining sugar leaves is the best part of harvesting cannabis buds. Partly, it’s because while you can always purchase buds in dispensaries, one cannot lay his hands on sugar leaves unless he personally grows cannabis plants. However, there are many growers that throw away sugar leaves because they don’t know what to do with them.
If you’re one of them, here’s the ultimate guide to educate you on how to use sugar leaves.
What are sugar leaves?
It’s possible you’ve never heard of sugar leaves; however, if you’re a grower, you’d have handled them. Once you grow cannabis plants, you’ll notice that it develops leaves. These leaves get bigger as the plant grows, and are known as fan leaves. Sugar leaves develop slowly along with the buds. While fan leaves are visible from the branches, sugar leaves peek through buds where only their juicy tips sprinkled with a generous amount of trichomes are seen.
Sugar leaves are small and dainty. They aren’t really visible in some plants where there’s a heavy amount of resin. Once you remove the fan leaves, you’ll see small sugar leaves clearly. Even fan leaves have trichomes, but in negligible quantities. Named aptly due to the resin that resembles sugar, growers collect even small leaves to make different products.
How to collect sugar leaves?
Collecting sugar leaves is as simple as harvesting the buds themselves. However, since sugar leaves are small, you’ll have to spend some extra time trimming them one by one. For this reason, many people let the sugar leaves stay on the buds and smoke or vaporize them along with the buds. Another point to note is that the amount of sugar leaves obtained per plant will be small.
Thus, you can save the sugar leaves by storing them in a ziplock bag or any airtight container and place it in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. This will also ensure that the leaves are brittle and it makes it easier for the trichomes to fall off when you’ve finally decided what you want to do with them.
Can you smoke sugar leaves?
This is a question many people ask. And, rightly so. If you’ve grown those plants with so much effort, it’s natural to wonder if you can smoke them too. Yes, it is possible to smoke sugar leaves, but remember that it can be harsh on your throat. It doesn’t make sense to trim the sugar leaves and then smoke them because you can simply leave them on the buds.
You’ll also need more sugar leaves compared to normal buds because the leaves don’t contain as much resin present in the buds. Therefore, if you decide to trim the leaves, make sure you create something else with them or you can just leave them on the buds.
Here’s a video on what happens if you smoke sugar leaves:
How to use sugar leaves
If you want to use sugar leaves to make different cannabis products, keep in mind that the trichomes differ from one strain to another. For instance, a strain like Green Crack may not produce as much trichomes as, say, Gorilla Glue that’s famous for its resin. Just like the strains differ when it comes to the effects they produce, the amount of trichomes also differ. Sometimes, plants with super huge buds don’t produce too many sugar leaves while those with smaller buds will have a lot more sugar leaves.
Last but not the least, no matter what edibles you make, remember to decarboxylate the sugar leaves before using them so you get to use active THC or CBD. Here’s how you can use these amazing leaves studded with resin.
People generally use cannabis buds to make edibles. If you’re short of buds, though, you can easily replace them with sugar leaves. However, note that you’ll need to use a lot more sugar leaves compared to the buds because although sugar leaves do contain resin, they don’t have as much resin as the buds themselves. What you’ll probably end up with is an edible that doesn’t make you as high as the buds but they are amazing nonetheless.
Brownies – Making brownies with cannabis flowers is super easy. You can replace the blossoms with sugar leaves and the effect will almost be the same. But, if you want super potent brownies, use more flowers. For instance, if your recipe calls for 50 grams of flowers, use 50 grams of sugar leaves instead to produce a milder effect. For a stronger high, use 50 grams of buds plus 25 grams of sugar leaves.
Cannabutter – Cannabutter is one of the best ways of using cannabis. Not only is the effect far stronger than smoking cannabis (because edibles are ingested by the stomach lining) but it also lasts longer. To make some butter that’s mild, simply replace the buds with sugar leaves, but if you want a stronger effect, add at least half of the amount of the buds in the form of sugar leaves.
Teas – Many people use even fan leaves to make cannabis tea, but using sugar leaves will no doubt produce tea with a strong buzz. Don’t overdo it, though – and this applies to all edibles – because edibles are much stronger than smoking cannabis. To brew some tea, weigh and strain at least a gram of sugar leaves through a filter. Pour boiling water over the leaves and let it sit until the tea absorbs the elements of the sugar leaves. Some people add cannabutter or regular butter to their tea so that the cannabinoids bind well with the fat, but it’s not mandatory.
Kief is the powdery substance you usually find at the bottom of your grinder. It’s usually much more potent than your regular buds because it’s nothing but a collection of concentrated trichomes. Cannabis users love kief simply because it’s potent and requires a very small amount to produce the desired high.
To make kief using sugar leaves, make sure that the leaves are dry before using them. It’s also going to work better if the leaves are brittle so that you can crush it better. Thus, you can store the leaves in the freezer as mentioned earlier.
Once you have some frozen and dried sugar leaves, grind the leaves in your grinder just like you’d grind cannabis buds. Of course, you’ll not get as much kief as you’d get with the buds, but it’s far better than throwing away the leaves shimmering with resin.
For many growers, obtaining sugar leaves is the best part of harvesting cannabis buds. Partly, it’s because while you can always purchase buds in dispensa