Bizarrely, it’s illegal to grow hemp seeds still in the US – even as a nutritional seeds for cooking. However, in the UK, we can’t get enough of this superfood, it seems. We now have our own Sussex grower – Hemp and Hops.
Nathaniel, our hemp grower, is bringing unshelled seed – but soon we will have hemp oil and toasted hemp for salads and sprinkles. The hemp is organically grown – but isn’t certified as organic.
The health benefits of hemp
Raw hemp is reputedly a potent food to support a healthy system with a broad spectrum of benefits. Hemp has a natural blend of easily digestible proteins as well as essential fats Omega 3 and 6 – which make it a kind of ‘vegan fish’ equivalent. In addition, hemp seeds are packed with useful antioxidants and an almost perfect blend of amino acids plus fibre (in the raw form). Add to that, iron and zinc along with a range of B vitamins, Vitamins E and D and essential minerals, and here’s a mighty superfood food to help keep your energy levels high and naturally control blood sugar.
Hemp also is reputed to have anti-inflammatory properties and it’s suggested that eating regularly should help lower cholesterol, boost the immune system and also improve circulation.
As hemp isn’t a nut or grain, then it should be tolerated by those who have allergies to gluten or nuts.
All great but how to eat it?
As nature intended – the raw unshelled hemp seed
Unshelled hemp is fantastically healthy as it’s super-rich in insoluble fibre. If you’ve tried hemp seeds in supermarket packets, you may have found it impossible to chew! Freshly picked raw seed is definitely chewy and an acquired taste but makes a perfect colon cleanse when added to soups or stews. A sprinkle of the seeds in a stew will do and cook just long enough to soften.
As hemp milk (keep the pulp)
You can buy hemp milk in good supermarkets, but freshly made has all the nutritional benefit of the fresh seed and a unique flavour.
We experimented by whizzing up the seeds in our Nutribullet.
- Mix 1 part hemp to 3 parts water gives a creamy milk the consistency of semi-skimmed milk.
- Strain through muslin and reserve the pulped shells for cooking (it looks like volcanic sand but is marvellously nutritious). The milk can be frozen, if needed.
- This simple milk has a fresh grassy flavour, perfect for porridge or fruity smoothies, but was not really pleasant in tea or coffee (in our opinion, anyway!).
- If you prefer a sweeter milk, then start by adding a few drops of natural vanilla essence. If not sweet enough, then add a little honey or a few dates and whizz back up to a liquid.
- To make your milk creamier, try adding a little raw extra-virgin coconut oil – just a scant tablespoon.
If you need a rich, smooth milk for creamy puddings, then here is a recipe from The Blender Girl (her recipe below – as usual converting cups to grams).
Shell your hemp
Hemp can be bought unshelled but you’ll lose some of that wonderful nutritional value. Try shelling your own to keep a small batch to toast and mix with granola or sprinkle on your cereal – shelling makes them easier to eat and digest.
- Pour a layer of hemp onto a table as a single layer.
- Put a good solid chopping wooden board over the top.
- Knock the board all over with a wooden mallet to crush the seeds.
- Scoop into a large basin of water.
- Stir vigorously and the seeds and husks will separate – the husks rising to the top.
- Skim off the husks and sieve your seeds and you have shelled hemp – easy.
Happy Hemp Milk
- 170g raw hemp seeds
- 700ml filtered water
- 4 pitted dates soaked, or 2 -3 tablespoons maple syrup plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon NON GMO soy or sunflower seed lecithin (optional to obtain a smooth consistency)
- 1 tablespoon raw unrefined coconut butter/oil (optional for a richer milk)
- pinch of sea salt
- Throw all the ingredients into the blender and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds until combined.
- Sweeten to taste if desired, and if you want a richer milk, add the lecithin and coconut butter.
- Consume unstrained for the most nutritional benefit [NB: we would recommend straining the milk!! Much more appealing]. However, if you prefer a smoother milk, strain with a nut bag [or muslin cloth]. You can find nut milk bags from health food stores or from raw online stores. Make sure you wash the bag as soon as you are done so you can reuse again and again.
To strain: place your nut milk bag over a large glass container, large jar or jug. Pour the milk into the cloth and then squeeze it like a cow teat until every last drop is out.
- Keep in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for two days, possibly three if kept very cold.
This is roughly the quantity you need in the blender.
Blend to a smooth milk.
Strain through muslin.
A dash of hemp milk!