Lecithin is a phospholipid that can be found within eggs, avocados, soybeans, and sunflowers. The substance acts as a binding agent that keeps ingredients stuck together. It may even play a role in increasing the potency of edibles. We take a closer a look at what is going on.
Just like the process of growing cannabis plants, adding the flowers into food recipes and creating edibles is an artform. There are countless recipes out there now and almost any dish, whether sweet or savoury, can be infused with cannabinoids for either medicinal or recreational purposes. Making edibles isn’t always simple, especially for those cannabis enthusiasts who are new to the world of cooking. There are many ways to improve certain dishes and recipes, and factors such as flavour, texture, and presentation can be optimised in order to really make an edible experience fun and memorable. One secret weapon when it comes to baking with weed is the use of lecithin, an ingredient that can greatly improve the structural integrity of an edible, and may enhance the absorption of the prized cannabinoids within.
WHAT IS LECITHIN?
Lecithin is a phospholipid, a type of fat, that is often used as an additive within food to enable certain ingredients to bind and stick together that would usually repel each other. Lecithin can be found within egg yolks, which is why eggs are frequently used in recipes to thicken sauces and bases. Vegan sources of lecithin include avocados, soybeans, and sunflowers. Lecithin serves an essential role within the body and makes up parts of cell membranes – the protective barrier that separates the interior of cells from the outside. There is evidence to suggest that lecithin may be useful in cases of liver and gallbladder disease, and some even employ it in attempts to treat cognitive impairment, dry skin, and numerous other conditions.
Aside from being used as a health supplement, lecithin plays a major role in cooking and food products. It works as an emulsifying agent and additive that works to stabilize processed foods. It helps foods that usually don’t mix to stay together. For example, when adding a teaspoon of coconut oil into a cup of coffee the oil will rise to the top of the liquid, the two substances won’t mix together. When adding an emulsifier such as lecithin, the two will mix together and stay together, creating a more pleasant beverage. It’s easy to see why lecithin is so important and widely used in food products that use oils and water. Lecithin basically helps oil-based ingredients interact and stabilise with water-based ingredients.
If you’re not familiar with making edibles, you may have never heard of lecithin before. But, you’ve most definitely eaten food that contains it in the past, edible or not.
One of the things lecithin is used for is to bind and emulsify. Lecithin itself has both water-soluble and oil-soluble parts, making this possible.
You may have noticed that products you eat have ingredients that naturally repel one another, like water and oil. Lecithin helps counteract that and allow them to bind, creating a cohesive piece of cake, for example, instead of making it crumble all over the place.
Lecithin is also used in many commercially available foods to help increase its shelf life. Over time, foods become moldy or full of mildew and impossible to eat. This allows people to buy things like bread in bulk and not worry about it going bad too quickly.
Long story short: you’ve been eating lecithin for a long time without even realizing it!
WHY YOU SHOULD ADD LECITHIN TO YOUR EDIBLES
There are multiple reasons to use lecithin when cooking up a batch of psychoactive cannabis edibles. As alluded to above one great reason is to improve the structure of your edibles. Adding lecithin to a mixture before baking will help certain particles bind together instead of rejecting each other and falling apart. For example, when making chocolate brownies or cakes, lecithin will help sugar and cocoa stick to cannabutter. Sugar and cocoa bind well with water, yet cannabutter doesn’t. Lecithin can be used to remedy this issue. Additionally, the presence of lecithin within your cannabis edibles can increase the shelf life by preventing the separation of fats and waters. This may lessen the chance of mould formation which will ruin your stash.
Perhaps the best reason to add lecithin to your edibles is one that will really get cannabis enthusiasts excited. The emulsifier can act to increase the potency of cannabis edibles in numerous ways, helping users to make the most of the weed they are using. Your body may have an easier time digesting the bound ingredients and will be able to access and digest THC and other cannabinoids more easily. As well as this, lecithin is known to be a surfactant, a compound that lowers surface tension. This fact means that lecithin helps to distribute THC and cannabinoids more efficiently.
HOW TO ADD LECITHIN TO RECIPES
Now that we have covered what lecithin is and why it acts to optimise cannabis edibles, it’s time to get baking. Adding lecithin to edibles is an easy and straightforward process. When using it is as a dough conditioner add around 1 teaspoon of lecithin to every cup of flour used in a recipe. Next, dissolve the lecithin in the liquid ingredients. Bake the goods using the normal directions that the recipe states. When your goods are finished it’s time for a taste test. If the texture isn’t as good as it could be, add some more lecithin to the next batch of your edible of choice. If it has left behind an obvious flavour, add a little less.
When it comes to vegan options and eggless baking, the process is slightly different. Mix 1 ½ tablespoons of lecithin granules into 2 teaspoons of water for each egg yolk that is needed within a typical recipe. Next, add the required fats, flavourings, and binding ingredients and bake away. Because eggs provide a good binding effect, vegan options will need these additional ingredients.
THE BEST SOURCE OF LECITHIN
Eggs are probably the best source of lecithin to use in edible recipes, however, they won’t suffice in vegan recipes. Soy lecithin is commonly used in many processed foods, though there is a large debate about just how healthy it is. Soy lecithin is known to be highly processed and manufacturers often used solvents to extract it. Therefore, sunflower lecithin is advised instead. It is also worth noting, while egg and sunflower based lecithin are superior, they are also harder to get hold of – with soy being the most common in powder form.