Q&A: Hashing it Out with Cherryblossom Belle
We sat down with Cherryblossom Belle, the Director of Manufacturing at Heritage Hash Co, Mendocino’s best hashery, to discuss the art and science of hash-making. Belle, who apprenticed for seven years with the legendary Frenchy Cannoli, is one of our partners at Solful.
We’re happy to work with Belle to bring Sebastopol and Sonoma the best concentrates in California, all sourced from local Emerald Triangle cannabis.
What draws you specifically to hash as opposed to other forms of cannabis?
I have a deep connection with hash because one of the first times I smoked, I was in Southeast Asia, and it was actually a really bad experience because I got some really low quality stuff. It was probably mixed with something. So I thought cannabis was kind of a bad thing. And my friend who was a colleague of mine asked me if I wanted to smoke some weed. And I was like, no, dude, that sounds terrible. And he was like, no, it’s not. I promise you, he’s like, you just got low quality stuff.
Later, I tried Thai stuff and it was the best high ever. And it really changed my perspective on cannabis as a whole and that same friend. And he was saying that his family makes hash. And he was like, dude, we should try that. And I was totally down. So we ended up making our own hash. We just figured it out. So I started smoking hash. It was funny, the first time I smoked hash, I made hash.
If you were to encapsulate it, what makes the hash that you produce at Heritage Hash Co so unique and so special?
It’s the input. It’s like that saying: fire in, fire out. As a hash maker, we’re only as good as the product that we work with. In a sense, if I’m not growing that product, I’m a service provider, basically. And that’s kind of the universal secret. It’s these genetics, these smaller farms up here in the Emerald Triangle with really robust genetics, genetics with a wild side to them. Hashish-producing countries, if you think about it, like the Hindu Kush mountains, the plants are so short and stocky and the buds are really tight and the resin is like a sandy, kind of granular type of resin. Well, that resin makes really good hash.
Could you talk a little about the idea of “cannabis terroir,” and “taste of place” a little bit?
Oh yeah. To start, just to define what terroir is, you know, it’s the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop’s phenotype, including the unique environmental contexts, the farming practices and crop-specific growth habitat. As a hash maker, our primary focus is actually sourcing material, and terroir is the compass we use to source the best possible material. To put it simply, terroir is everything that relates to the surrounding environmental factors that give a crop specific characteristics, and the end product that can’t be duplicated anywhere else. To break it down for you, it’s like grapes grown in Bordeaux. They’re grown in the terroir of Bordeaux. So you can’t grow grapes in Chile and put Bordeaux on the bottle of wine because those grapes were not grown on that terroir.
How does that play out specifically in the context of the Emerald Triangle?
You know, if we examine the history of how small areas can dominate a world market through the tastes of their products, it’s like, Bordeaux, France, did this with wine, Parma, Italy did this with Parmesan cheese. And the countryside of Rome did this with Romano cheese. And Sonoma has done that with weed. And the Emerald Triangle has done that. All of these regions have acquired, through their terroir, a distinct taste to their place. Mendocino weed has a very distinct taste. Sonoma weed has a very distinct taste. And the same with Humboldt weed. Even if it’s the same strain, if it was grown in those areas you can identify it based on the look and the taste.
I know you guys are involved in some more traditional methods of production and then some more cutting-edge methods. Can you talk about that distinction?
Because we’re a hashery, you know, we have to meet what everybody wants. And that includes, like you said, the more cutting-edge stuff. We focus on traditional stuff to keep the tradition alive, but then we also have full melt, bubble hash, and loose, unpressed trichome heads. As a hash maker, our goal is to collect the trichomes, the resin heads of the cannabis plant, and keep those heads intact throughout the process, because those heads hold all of the oil inside. There’s a little membrane skin holding all of those oils. So we have to be very gentle not to bust that skin until we’re ready to. It’s like an apple, in a sense, and it grows the same way. It grows like an apple and when it’s ripe, there’s an abscission point where it’s supposed to break. So we have the resin heads and the resin head is like an apple. Loose, unpressed hash is like the whole apples. It’s that whole resin head. It’s the membrane. It’s the oils inside, and the fibers that make up that membrane. Pressed hash is like apple sauce, because now you’re mushing it all together, you’re putting a little bit of heat on it, but the fibers are still there and the juices are still there. That is what pressed hash is like. And then you have rosin, which is your apple juice. You are now taking those fibers out and you’re just keeping the oil, you’re just keeping the juice of the apple. That’s the difference between the three, and people have their preference for each one.
What advice would you give to a cannabis user who smokes flower, but wants to dip their toe into the world of hash?
I would say definitely ask yourself where it was from. Beyond who made it, beyond the fancy box and the brand. Because it’s not about the brand, it’s about the product that’s inside and how it was grown and where it came from and what it was grown with. And who processed it is important. Are they processing it ethically or in a clean manner? I think those are the most important factors or questions to ask about the product beyond the THC percentage.