Store Cannabis in commercial refrigerators and commercial freezers

How to properly store marijuana edibles and cannabis concentrates at the retail level

While Canadians have had a year and some to get used to the idea of legal marijuana, the federal government waited until October 17, 2019 to legalize the sale of cannabis products. As of now, a wide range of cannabis and marijuana products, including edibles, beverages, topicals and extracts, can be legally sold from coast to coast at the retail level in commercial refrigerators and commercial freezers.

Correct and safe storage for these products must be considered at both the retail level and behind the scenes in the manufacturing facilities themselves to keep them fresh and to maintain their potency and effectiveness.

Here’s a quick guide to storing concentrates and edibles properly for maximum shelf life.

Cannabis concentrates

Cannabis concentrates or extracts refers to any material created by refining cannabis flowers, such as hash, dry sieve, and hash oils. Concentrates or extracts have much higher potency than cannabis plants.

Many consumers as well as producers store marijuana for long periods of time in a freezer, but this is somewhat controversial since freezing can cause the trichomes to become brittle and break off, rendering the marijuana less potent.  However, for concentrates, freezing is a great option, allowing storage for up to a year without any loss of quality or flavour. All excess air should be removed to prevent moisture if temperature changes occur.  When you remove concentrates from the freezer it should be left to defrost slowly at room temperature as sudden temperature changes could affect the taste or even ruin the concentrate.

Cannabis edibles

This category is extremely broad and includes hundreds, if not thousands, of orally consumable food products.  Cannabis edibles are any products that contain the psychoactive Tetrahydrocannabinol, (THC), the nonpsychoactive cannabidiol, (CBD), or a combination of both. Common edible products include cookies, brownies, candies, gummies, chocolates, beverages, or homemade goods.

Since the days of marijuana use in the early 20th century, edibles have been the domain of home cooks who baked cannabis into various recipes. Very soon, retail shelves will be filled with commercial products including brownies, cookies, chocolates, energy bars, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and many other product types.

Storing these products at the retail level or in a manufacturing facility is very similar to how one would store their non-cannabis counterparts. Cannabis edibles store best in a commercial refrigerator, especially if they contain oil, sugar, and flour. Edibles are prone to mould and could go bad quickly if left at room temperature, especially since most cannabis edibles do not contain a lot of preservatives.

As a general rule, cannabis-infused butter can be stored in the fridge or freezer, while cannabis-infused cooking oils should be kept in the refrigerator.

Top tips for storing edibles and concentrates in a commercial refrigerator and commercial freezer:

  • Light is the enemy of cannabis products so whenever possible, producers should avoid transparent containers when storing them in a commercial refrigerator or commercial freezer.
  • A commercial refrigerator or display merchandiser is a great place to store and sell edibles, cooking oils, balms and concentrates but beware of the risk they pose and keep them out of the reach of children!
  • Commercial refrigerators for storing/selling cannabis edibles and oils should maintain highly stable temperatures, without temperature fluctuations which occur when fridge doors are opened frequently. For this reason, commercial refrigerators equipped with Smartlocks are ideal for ensuring food safety.
  • It’s good practice to write the date of packaging on concentrates and edibles to keep track of how long they have been in the commercial freezer or refrigerator.
  • Always buy from reputable suppliers and manufacturers. If the products aren’t packaged well, be wary of the freshness level.
  • Plastic is also to be avoided, whether plastic film or plastic containers, as air and moisture can be trapped within. Also, hormone-disrupting BPAs can leach into the product. Glass and silicone containers are better.

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