If you’re housebound by COVID-19 – as so many of us are – you’re probably doing more home cooking, for healthier fare and better use of limited resources. And in this, you’re not alone: The home-cooking trend is huge, reflected in the quarantine-friendly recipes popping up on Buzzfeed and the New York Times.
The New York Post reported that one Chinese cooking platform alone attracted 580 million views after the epidemic shut down that country in late December.
Here in the United States, however, you may be craving something a bit more on the wild side than Chinese rice noodles – and if that something is cannabis treats and topicals, a new device is making that process easier and cheaper.
It’s called the Ardent FX, a newly released, thermally heated counter-top device from the Boston-based Ardent Company. Attorney and company founder and president Shanel Lindsay calls the cylindrical stainless steel device an “easy-bake oven” because it can activate your cannabis through the essential process of decarboxylation.
There’s more: The same device can also bake the edibles desired – whether that means THC-infused cookies, muffins, pizza and applesauce, or CBD-infused edibles for pain relief. Topical gels can also be made in the Ardent FX, as well as infused oils.
Further, the Ardent FX lets the cannabis chef customize the product to his or her specifications: from ingredients preferred, to the amount of sugar (or no sugar) added, to the use of lecithin for easier absorption. More precise dosing of THC or CBD is also possible.
Both CBD and THC foods can be prepared using the appliance, depending on the cannabis flower chosen.
The problem during the current coronavirus strictures, of course, is that THC flower strains are suddenly hard to come by due to the mandatory shuttering of nonessential businesses in multiple states.
This means that, even where it was previously legal, recreational cannabis may no longer be sold at dispensaries (though most may still sell CBD medicinal items).
The new rules put a strain on cannabis buyers. “People are hunkering down in order to stretch their materials, which is really important,” Lindsay says. “Without our product, people are using a lot of cannabis to make [food and topicals]. The Ardent FX allows them to use much, much less cannabis.”
Then there’s the difficulty of how to make edibles. “You can go anywhere on the internet and see very, very complicated instructions on how to make cannabis products,” Lindsay says. “And at the end of the day… you’re going to use a lot more cannabis than you need to, and end up coming up with a sub-par product, because decarboxylation is not simple to do. It can use a lot of material and burn off the THC or CBD that you’re trying to activate.”
“Decarboxylation” is that previously mentioned prerequisite for making edibles because it allows the cannabis’s THC or CBD to work. What’s involved is a drying/heating process that activates the original cannabinoid compounds THCA and CBDA, turning them into THC and CBD.
That heating/drying process occurs to some degree with smoking or vaping cannabis because of the high heat involved – but cannabis for edibles must be heated some other way.
The Ardent FX can “de-carb” – as Lindsay calls it — up to 4 ounces at a time, much more than its predecessor model, the Nova, which can handle just 1 ounce.
To achieve this essential de-carbing, the Ardent FX has a thermal heating core wrapping around the whole device – unlike what’s found in an oven or crockpot. More even heating is therefore possible. “There are also two sensors that allow us to have an algorithm at the bottom, a micro-controller that creates laboratory-grade heating for this device,” Lindsay explains.
“This allows the baker to evenly, gently heat the cannabis, not vaporize it, she says – and, she claims, this capability saves a good deal of weed – and, therefore, money. What the cannabis cook can do next with the much larger Ardent FX is bake up a whole batch of cookies or other desired edible treat right there in the device, the same way he or she might cook up a load of pasta (which, by the way, is also possible in the Ardent FX).
This is why Lindsay labels her item a “crossover device,” which, she says, is augmented by testing results that show the efficacy of the product.
“We definitely are in a league of our own,” she declares.
In fact, the do-it-yourself edibles/topicals market has other players besides Ardent: They include LEVO II, an appliance that decarboxylates and prepares herbs (like cannabis) for infusions; the magical butter, a countertop botanical extractor which infuses herbs into butter, oil, alcohol and lotions; and the Hi herbal infuser.
Still, the Nova, which retails online and in health food stores for $350, is different for its baking capability and for the company’s impressive financial profile: It’s a woman-led startup that has chalked up $7 million in sales and been profitable since 2017.
Of course, what truly counts beyond profits is what this “easy-bake oven” offers during today’s stressful pandemic: opportunities for pain relief and relaxation for a whole lot of Americans who otherwise might never have fancied themselves to be home chefs.