The Art of Curing
Buds that have gone through this drying process aren't really dry. There's still moisture deep within them; that's why curing is so important. Starches and chlorophyll in the plant need to be "sweated" out to reduce the harsh taste of uncured pot. Curing is a delicate balance between moisture and dryness: too wet and the buds will mold, too dry and they crumble into dust.
When the hanging branches begin to get crispy and the stems snap when bent, trim them down to individual buds so that no stem is visible and place them into airtight Tupperware or Mason jars. Moisture from inside the buds will spread outward in no time and the dry nuggets you put in will soon be wet again. Opening the jars or Tupperware several times daily releases the built-up liquid and replenishes the air inside. Slowly but surely, evaporation will lower the moisture levels in the container and the buds will crisp up. While some growers use paper bags for this process, I believe they impart an unpleasant flavor and odor.
Well-dried and cured pot is sweet and smooth, with none of the harshness of hard-to-burn smoke. If a joint burns evenly and the ashes are white, the herb is well cured. Poorly cured pot refuses to stay lit and the ashes are dark and crumbly.
Advanced growers often push the limits of how long they can go without opening the containers. They want the buds to ferment in the air that's left in the containers as oxygen becomes depleted and gases build up. Buds cured this way taste very sweet and possess subtle flavors not unlike a fine aged wine. However, the longer the flowers stay closed inside the containers, the more the risk of molding. Make sure the buds are closer to dry before trying this refined curing method.
Curing is not just for growers. If you purchase a bag of wet or poorly cured pot, you can jar it up and sweat-cure it yourself. You'll lose a little of the weight, but it's just water anyway and the herb will taste and smoke much better.