The Future of Weed Edibles Is Artisanal

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Artisanal edibles are not your parents’ weed brownies, nor are they the blue raspberry-flavored gummies coated in artificial sugar to mask the taste of cannabis. Now, brands like Rose Los Angeles, Sundae School, and Serra are serving a variety of delicious culinary innovations in the form of Turkish delights, mochi gummies, and gum drops. We’ve reached a new turning point where eating a carefully dosed, gourmet edible feels luxurious.

Gossamer co-founder Verena von Pfetten has a vivid memory of one of her earliest encounters with an edible. She was 16 years old in the parking lot of a venue, tailgating for a Phish concert with a friend when he handed her something called a “goofball”: peanut butter, oatmeal, granola, and weed. (After the edible made its way through her system, von Pfetten’s night would come to a quick end once she took a hit from a joint later on.) Now that she’s more experienced, von Pfetten is aware that the strength of an edible varies from person to person because of the chemical compounds of the plant. With legalization improving access to information and reliable products, she notes that “[edibles are] a lot of people’s entry point back into weed, even if it was the thing that initially scared them off.”

Unsurprisingly, sales for weed edibles rapidly increased during the pandemic as collective anxiety was on the rise. Given that medical marijuana dispensaries and cannabis stores are considered essential businesses, the demand for supply never subsided. Last year, Quartz reported that we were in the midst of a “quarantine-fueled edibles boom” with the edibles category growing by 10.6% in states where marijuana is legalized like Washington, California, Colorado, and Nevada. Now that other states like New Jersey and New York are following suit, the surge will likely continue. Since this time last year, Rose Los Angeles has seen sales of their THC delights grow steadily month after month, reporting a 165% increase from Q3 to Q4. This surge of interest enticed the brand to launch a variety of new limited-edition collaborations, including CBD delights that can be sold in non-legal markets.

Especially for those who prefer not to smoke, edibles can offer an appealing method for experiencing the effects of cannabis. With many of these new edible offerings catering toward a more highbrow crowd, the act of participating is more of an indulgence. Edibles containing lower doses of THC and CBD also allow consumers to safely portion themselves and select their level of high. Nathan Cozzolino and Scott Barry, the co-founders of Rose Los Angeles, have also made creative culinary collaborations part of their brand.

Tara Thomas’s watermelon-tomato-sencha delights, a collaboration with Rose Los Angeles and GossamerPhoto: Emily Simms / Courtesy of Gossamer

Every season, Rose partners with a chef to create an original recipe for their Delights. Enrique Olvera worked on a mezcal poached pear flavor, while Tara Thomas formulated a watermelon-tomato-sencha variety. Dominique Crenn combined apples with passion fruit. This genuine interest in food and the medical usage of cannabis has been baked into the business since it launched in 2019. Cozzolino never understood why standard edibles on the market were made out of industrial packaged ingredients instead of utilizing the highest quality of fresh produce. Coming to that realization presented them with an opportunity to give people who are “looking for a pleasurable experience” a tangible way to unlock the therapeutic qualities of cannabis. (As von Pffetten reflects, “I do think knowing that what you're eating is a beautiful quality ingredient, even if it is just to have fun, there's something nice about that.”)

Rose’s cannabis Turkish delights are infused with single-strain flower rosin that is extracted and hand-pressed in their studio with fresh produce that is sourced locally. (Rosin increases the effective dose and the bioavailability of full-spectrum CBD.) Instead of trying to disguise the cannabis, Rose uses natural ingredients that complement the taste. “We don't want to mask the flavor of any ingredient that goes into our product,” Cozzolino explains. “To get the best flavor out of [the cannabis], we press it at a comfortable heat for the plant and that's how we maintain all the pleasant terpenes and aromas and flavors that the flower has.”

Kiwi and Oro Blanco Grapefruit with celery, the latest seasonal collaboration between Rose Los Angeles and Gossamer, is a sweet and juicy recipe formulated by New York-based pastry chef, writer, and activist Natasha Pickowicz, who most recently ran the pastry program at beloved Soho haunt Altro Paradiso. The small-batch release is available in four different strains across THC (Royal Key’s Banana Breath Indica Flower Rosin and Lithouse’ Red Dragon Sativa Flower Rosin) and CBD (Sour Space Candy Hemp Rosin and Kush Hemp from Hudson Hemp).” The oro blanco grapefruit was grown at Bernard Ranches and the celery comes from Catalan Family Farm, both family-run farms in California. The packaging features hand-drawn illustrations from the journals of Pickowicz’s mother, Li Huai.

Natasha Pickowicz in her kitchen

Photo: Meghan Marin / Courtesy of GossamerPhoto: Meghan Marin / Courtesy of Gossamer

As far as the future of edibles is concerned, Pickowicz sees great potential. She points to the award-winning chef Mindy Segal as a prime example of the artisanal direction that edibles could take, where culinary experts are “making these delicious treats in the cannabis space.” Even chefs who work in states where marijuana legalization has yet to be full-fledged are experimenting in the field: New Yorkers can pull up a seat at the table through fine-dining experiences like 99th Floor and Higher Dining supper club. Pickowicz thinks that more creators will be interested in playing around with edibles as we move away from the stereotypical stoner cookbook that is loaded with junk food toward a more holistic approach that uses cannabis as an ingredient to be incorporated into everything from ghee and burnt brown cannabutter carrots to grapefruit salad and ice cream. “You're starting to see really cool creative minds come in and reframe the cannabis experience now through organic ingredients,” Pickowicz notes, “things that taste delicious and are designed by amazing artists.”

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