The Art of Making Ice Water Hash: A Workshop With Frenchy Cannoli
In the boutique cannabis marketplace, Frenchy is spinning pure gold, and now he’s teaching the trade to a select few in his workshop.
“Everything is written in the resin,” says Frenchy Cannoli, revealing his latest batch of hashish to the workshop participants wrapped in a tight circle around his work. “The whole story of six, seven months — it’s right there in your hand.”
The group is totally enrapt, most with pen in hand taking notes, and are hanging on every word of the instructor during the daylong hash-making seminar. Besides his voice, delivering lessons in a think French accent, the only sound in the industrial San Francisco co-working space is the sound of the ice hitting the walls of the small 6-gallon washing machine filled with trim. The noise resembles a light rain and is as soothing and meditative as the task at hand. It’s the sound of the ice beating on the walls of the machine and not a thermometer that tells him if the water is cold enough.
“It’s not the ice that is dislodging the trichome head, it’s the water,” Frenchy says. “The ice is just to make the water cold.”
Frenchy is the official hashishin of Aficionado, a Mendocino County-based seed company promoting boutique cannabis. Oft described as legendary, Frenchy gained notoriety in the cannabis community through tutorial YouTube videos, an active Instagram account and a limited high-end product offering.
Through this class, the second of a series that began in Los Angeles, each person present has the chance to learn the techniques behind making ice water hash. The mere fact that an event like this is taking place in a transparent group environment is an incredible achievement in itself. The workshop’s hosts are behind some of the most dynamic cannabis companies in the Bay Area – The Hepburns, Hashbury Extracts and Meadow – and have created a welcoming environment to learn about a process still considered dark and dangerous in the eyes of many. Attendees, eleven males and six females, have paid a fee to take part in the class and the room already smells heavily of hash upon my arrival shortly after 9 a.m.
When I enter the room, Seibo Shen, the CEO behind the VapeXhale, is sitting on a couch in front of a coffee table topped with three different kinds of Frenchy’s pressed hash. The samples are almost the size of golf balls and make a satisfying clink when tapped against the plate they are resting on. Shen is inviting anyone that would like to try the hash in his vaporizer do so before the class begins. I sample the Black Lime Reserve offering. His hash is layered in flavor and results in a full-bodied, sophisticated smoke.
Others in the start-up space are partaking of their own offerings. While eating a croissant at a picnic table, a young brunette from Las Vegas named Jessi explains that she has tried the hand-stirred, bucket hash making method over the past few months and is excited to learn about making hashish using a washing machine.
“I just want to see how it’s done with the machine,” she says, “how much to put in the machine, how much ice, how much trim.”
Frenchy starts off the day of instruction with a PowerPoint projecting scientific drawings, resin glands and trichome heads onto the wall. The first characteristic to define quality cannabis, he says, is how much resin a cannabis flower produces. That’s why the relationship of hash maker and grower is so important.
“You need to be really good to fill up this resin head,” Frenchy says while gesturing towards the image of a trichome – the sticky resinous growths on cannabis flowers that contain the wide spectrum of cannabinoids including THC.
He compares being a hash maker to being in the perfume industry or acting as a wine maker.
“It’s really being able to take that pure essence of the plant,” he says of making hash. “You take something, you keep it as is and you just bring it that little bit higher.”
As the instruction progresses, Frenchy brings out the tools of the trade – buckets of varying sizes and Boldt Bags with different micron filters for sieving. He’s a stickler for cleanness and quality materials.
“If you’re sieve is dirty, you’re not sieving any more” he says, “You might as well be using a potato bag.”
Next, large bags are passed around the room, containing as much as 270 grams of premium cannabis trim from the strains Cherry Private Reserve, Girl Scout Cookies, Ghost Train Haze, Moonshine and Blackberry Kush. The selection looks incredible and smells divine. Many present place their whole face within the bags to get a real smell of the hashishin’s base material. By this time, it’s already been over an hour and Frenchy declares a smoke break before moving on to the active portion of his instruction.
After the short break, two 6-gallon washing machines are placed in front of the group and Frenchy begins a process that drives him for hours to follow. To start he fills the machines with a thin layer of ice followed by a layer of trim and then another layer of ice – enough to ensure the trim will remain under water. He then fills each with water using a hose equipped with a sprayer. While this is taking place, the only sounds in the room are the sounds of the spray, everyone’s eyes are fixed on one point – the clear machines basked in soft mid-morning light.
“Gentleness is the key, you don’t need much to shake [the resin heads] out,” Frenchy says.
Once the washing machine is run through a cycle, the hash maker unloads the resinous water into his buckets lined with the Boldt Bags. These are stacked by size, with the most porous, the 190-micron bag, on top of a 160-micron bag and a 45-micron bag. This stack of buckets and bags rests on top of a kitchen disk rack and a standard plastic tub set to fill with the excess liquid. When Frenchy runs the machine and unloads the water from the Cookies strain into his workstation, it runs out as red as wine. He then invites the group to get close and observe the residue left behind in each bag. At the 45-micron level he takes out the sprayer and foams the material like a cappuccino. The light sandy hashish bursts with terpines, aromatics that fly into the faces of those gathered near Frenchy in the tight huddle.
Shoragim Amir, a 34-year-old from Dallas, Texas also attended Frenchy’s workshop in Los Angeles, which, he says, focused more on the theory and history behind hash.
“Today it’s definitely more effective for someone who wants to learn how to make hash,” he said, adding that it was interesting to see the different results each strain produced.
Frenchy uses older techniques, explained Hashbury Extracts hash maker Adam when I question the use of a Frisbee to press the hash against in the closing stage of extraction. Adam creates his own mouth-watering ice water hash strains, such as a Sweet Island Skunk we sample later, and proves to be my confidant when the hash making demonstration goes outside of basic levels of understanding. Adam explains that he uses much larger washing machines than the ones Frenchy is showing us today and collects the resin with a spoon, rather than a scraping it with a knife like Frenchy. Where Frenchy differs the most from other ice water hash creators like Adam is pressing and curing the finished material most often in the shape of cannolis, but also as the rounded balls we’ve seen today.
We’re all standing near and when Frenchy gets the Cookies on the dish he samples a taste, offering some to others that would like to try. Coral Reefer, a cannabis blogger who featured the hash master on her regular Stoney Sunday YouTube program, tries a sample of the still wet material and says it tastes less herbaceous than she would have thought. I have visions of Fitz Hugh Ludlow and his 1857 book “The Hasheesh Eater.” The uncured hash tastes delicious – Reefer is wearing mermaid scale leggings and a tie-dye shirt reading, “Toke the Police.” Like Ludlow’s book, we’ve officially embarked on a psychedelic adventure.
When the group breaks for lunch and more smoking, including a thoroughly intoxicating glass-tipped preroll from The Hepburns filled with Red Dragon herb and Honey Boo Boo ice water hash, the only one who doesn’t break to stop is Frenchy. While others eat, he continues to work on creating hash and it’s clear his passion won’t allow him to slow down.
“If you’re not deadly in love with the resin, then you’re going to get lost,” he said.
Look for an article on Frenchy Cannoli in the current issue of Cannabis Now Magazine.
Have you ever tried making hash? Let us know in the comments.