Nothing like the beautiful smell of a fresh cannabis flower bursting with citrus aroma, am I right? A flower covered in trichomes that is sticky and aromatic is always the first domino to fall when considering what kind of dish I’m looking to create. Lemons, Limes, Grapefruits, Juniper and Peppermint are all fruits & herbs that come to mind when I think of Limonene.

What is Limonene you might ask? Limonene is a colourless liquid aliphatic hydrocarbon classified as a cyclic monoterpene, and is the major component in the oil of citrus fruit peels. The D-isomer, occurring more commonly in nature as the fragrance of oranges, is a flavoring agent in food manufacturing. Limonene is the oil extracted from the peels of oranges and other citrus fruits. People have been extracting essential oils like limonene from citrus fruits for centuries. Today, limonene is often used as a natural treatment for a variety of health issues and is a popular ingredient in household items. More cannabis research is needed to determine its medical benefits but studies on limonene so far have shown potential for elevating one’s mood and helping reduce stress.

When cooking with Limonene we need to first take into consideration it’s boiling point and where we plan on incorporating it in a recipe. Limonene evaporates at 348 Degree Fahrenheit (176 Celsius), which means it limits how we want to apply this terpene. Next I want to look at its therapeutic effects and determine if I want to use CBD or THC in the recipe to create an entourage effect within the guest endocannabinoid system. The goal of my recipes is to create a purpose for using cannabis in the dish to begin with. A common question I get from people who don’t use cannabis is “Why do I want this in my food?”

When I think of where I want to incorporate Limonene on a menu, I usually go to my amuse-bouche or Starter. I want to activate that effect of boosting the guests mood and setting them in a relaxed state to start the evening off.  In this case, I find creating a citrus emulsified dressing where we can infuse the olive oil with cannabis and add the limonene right at the beginning of the process the perfect vessel. For my infused olive oil, I use a Romulan Haze (Hybrid of Romulan and Super Silver Haze). This strain is about 18% THC and has a skunky, herby, citrusy and woody smell all rolled into one and has a high Limonene content.

For the dressing I add a dab of Dijon mustard, a splash of caper liquid and a couple drops of limonene into a white balsamic vinegar that creates a beautiful balance to whisk in that infused Romulan Haze olive oil. I finish the dressing with some orange zest to refortify the terpene flavor and help accentuate the original flavor profile of the Romulan Haze. A salad dressing is the easiest and safest way to incorporate terpenes into because we don’t have to worry about evaporation points. A little goes a long way, and we can easily add another drop if the dressing isn’t “popping” enough.

To complete the dish I grill some broccolini on the BBQ and sauté some onions and cremini mushrooms in a pan. I lay the broccolini on a serving plate, add the infused dressing and top with the mushrooms, onions and sesame seeds. The dressing has about 35mg of THC in the entire sauce, so when we add to the plate, each person will only receive around 7mgs depending on their serving size.

Is it possible to create the guests” cannabis arch” based on when and where we use terpenes?. If we pinpoint where and how much of a terpene we add in a recipe, does that mean we can predict each person’s endocannabinoid system? How much will terpenes play a role in the culinary world once more chefs start working with them? Is there a danger when using terpenes if you aren’t fully educated on their properties? These are the important questions we are exploring and why working with a company like Lab Effects is so important in these early stages of R&D. The potential for use of terpenes in culinary could be a game changer and the desire to discover something new has never been greater in myself.