It’s been a while since we’ve written – It’s been a busy few months launching our local produce hampers and finding all new producers and growers and the time has just slipped by… So here is an introduction to one of our new producers:
Anyone who knows us, knows we have a bit of a mission to prove we can be regionally as self sufficient as possible, without compromising on delicious food. So, with that in mind, we have been looking beyond the basic food staples for things that will pique interest and keep food something to look forward to.
But, even though we eat lots of fresh food, there is always room for improvement. But good food doesn’t necessarily mean particularly rich or sweet – but access to ingredients that enhance or develop a good dish.
One of the key ingredients to healthy eating this year is humble Hemp. Hemp is the superfood that is on everyone’s lips at the moment as a new concept in healthy eating, but that seems a little strange as this is the staple crop of our ancestors…used from clothes production to food.
In fact, one of the oldest relics of human industry is a piece of hemp fabric dating back to approx 8,000 BC. Our ancestors clearly knew it as a useful crop and it was grown extensively to provide materials for the British Navy in the 16th century…riggings, pendants, pennants, sales and even maps, log books and Bibles.
Hemp is a sustainable crop, which is hardy and grows well in most soil types. A perfect crop for the 21st century landscape as it provides not only food but also prevents weed growth, as it is a more prolific plant than the weeds that compete – so is basically organic by it’s strength and speed of growth.
It fell out of favour post-war as the fashion for synthetic fabrics took root – so our generation has lost the association and hemp immediately springs cannabis to mind (which is a different variety of the plant completely, by the way).
Why is Hemp good for you?
65% of hemp seeds protein content is Edestin which is unique to the plant. As a globular protein it is easily absorbed by the human body and is known for cell regeneration and boosting the immune system. The remaining 35% is comprised of Albumin (also found in egg whites), also a readily digestible globular protein, which promotes nutrient uptake in the blood.
Hemp seeds contain all essential amino acids that are needed to stay healthy, including some that our bodies cannot produce themselves and have to come from our diet. Without them, the body would be unable to build and repair proteins, such as muscles.
Hemp seeds have a high quantity of perfectly-balanced Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3, 6 and 9), which are good aids to neurological function and promoters of cardiovascular health. They are also a fabulous source of Omega EFAs for vegetarians and vegans.
Where does our Hemp come from?
The hemp is grown 100% naturally, with no chemicals or additives, at the foot of the South Downs in West Sussex. Vitality Hemp was founded in 2014 by 29 year old Nathaniel Loxley, one of only eight Home Office licence holders to grow hemp in the UK.
Vitality Hemp products are made with love and respect for the plant. Production is kept as resourceful as possible by growing the raw material, processing it locally and developing it into new and innovative products using every aspect of the plant.
Recipe – Hemp and Walnut Loaf
This is a delicious, slightly dense loaf with a smooth nutty flavour. The Hemp gives a slightly grassy note and really brings out the taste of the walnuts. We dipped hunks of this in Carrot Soup slathered with fresh Sussex salted butter and it was a dish fit for a king….
- In a large bowl,mix together the flours, hemp protein powder and salt. Make a well in the centre.
- Re-activate the yeast by mixing it in a small bowl with the honey and 230 ml warm water.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the well of the flours and leave to stand for 15 minutes.
- Add another 230 ml of water to the bowl and gradually mix in the flours, making a soft but not sticky dough.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Add the walnuts and knead for another 2-3 minutes then return to a greased bowl, cover and leave to rise for 2 hours until doubled in size.
- Knock back the dough, knead again for 2 minutes and then divide into two portions.
- Shape each one and place on a baking sheet. Cover and again leave to rise for 1 ½ hours.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) Gas Mark 7.
- Slash the top of each loaf three times and bake for 15 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 190°C (375°F)
- Gas Mark 5 and continue to bake for 20-30 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when tapped underneath.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.