Background of Hempseed As Food
Hempseed is one of mankind’s oldest cultivated protein and oil crops. It was called one of the “Royal Grains” 5,000 years ago, 2,300 years before the soybean as a food crop was discovered. Hempseed has been used in cultures as diverse as Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe, especially in tim2020es of famine. Hempseed alone is capable of sustaining life, being 30% protein (more than meat) and 10% Omega-3 (more than fish). The shells are mostly fiber, and were prescribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine for constipation.
The shells also contain Cannabisin B, a powerful cancer fighter. Shelled hempseed is highly palatable, and improves any food it’s used in not only by adding a lot more nutrition, but also a savory nutty note, not unlike pine nuts or sunflower seed.
The protein is a highly-efficient form called “globulin,” like the protein found in our blood. It is a complete protein (contains all the essential amino acids), and superior to soya, which is a structured protein and not as assimilable. Hempseed protein is more similar to the protein gold standard, egg whites, which are composed of albumin protein. Hempseed protein is 1/3 albumin, and 2/3 edestin, found only in hempseed. It is of sufficiently high quality that it can be used in functional and medical foods as a plant-based protein, and with the Omega-3 in it, even can be used as a component in infant foods and formulas (use the FDA disclaimer).
As for me, starting in 1980 I produced and marketed soyfoods, over 140 products. Starting in 1994 I introduced a hemp cheese and a hemp burger, it eventually grew to 15 products, many with FDA-legal structure-function claims, one with an FDA-legal health claim, the first perishable and frozen hempseed foods, and the first in international trade. It was a Best Practices company with a number of innovations and firsts. Today shelled hempseed is 90% of Canadian hemp, and hemp’s first billion dollar industry. The global hemp-based foods market is expected to grow at a CAGR of above 24% during the period 2018-2022.
Since 1994 I have recommended that those who must be drug-tested, not consume any hemp foods or products, seed, especially hempseed oil and CBD, including my own. Why is that, when everyone else says it’s OK? Simply because Quality Assurance is not a one-time test, it is an on-going process, as food processors you understand that. Just because one lab test one time says there is no THC, doesn’t mean that every single other batch wasn’t loaded with it. At testpledge.com they claim a maximum of 5 ppm THC in their oil, but independent studies revealed it was more like 50 ppm, which is enough to trigger a DUID. (Yes, THC in hempseed foods and oil is totally legal, per a Ninth Circuit Court decision in 2004.) Over time, it is inevitable that quality assurance (QA) will fail, since humans are involved. Nothing is 100% certain. It is that batch that will get your customer’s life ruined: loss of career, job, children, freedom, even life. I don’t want someone’s life to be impacted because my company screwed up QA one time. (You might say, “then don’t screw it up!” But the reality is that Every. Single. Company. can have quality issues, from the largest most professional pharmaceutical manufacturer on down. Including you. Even I had a recall once, to be honest.) All consumption of hempseed foods and oils are banned by the military and most law enforcement, including CBD.
How To Use Hempseed For Food
Shelled hempseed is the preferred material to use. It is simply the whole hempseed with the shell removed. Full disclosure: that’s my thing, “HempNut” it was called. I was the first to import and brand it, and developed many foods for the commercial market with it, in the U.S. and Canada. Using whole hempseed (with the shell on) is like using whole sunflower seed, not very palatable. Also, imported whole hempseed must be heat-treated so it can’t grow, whereas shelled hempseed is naturally rendered unable to grow via the shelling process.
Shelled hempseed uses impact shellers, so many shell and achene (the fruit or HempNut) particles remain in the material, an indication of quality control. More fines and shells means lower grade. Although it is not disclosed, I believe some treat the shelled hempseed with infrared to kill the enzymes, especially the lipase which will turn the achenes darker orange or amber over time. (Hempseed is so high in enzymes, that’s where they were first discovered.) Those darker achenes are indicative of old material, as is a rancidity note in the flavor, an astringency at the back of the throat after a few seconds. Hempseed naturally contains oxalic acid, and people on dialysis might want to avoid it. Do not refrigerate it, it will mold. I found out the hard way: shipping 30,000 pounds via refrigerated container across the ocean. From the “no good deed goes unpunished” department.
The source I recommend is Hemp Oil Canada, cuz Shaun Crew is the only company with a shred of integrity. Work back from there, Nutiva should be dead last on your list. I recommend avoiding the hemp protein powders, I consider them unhealthy scams, at half fiber and lacking much Omega-3, they are “Why Bother?” products to me, only still partially-developed, gritty, and not yet ready for prime-time. Plus something in it gives people rashes; they say they use no hexane, but I’m not so sure.
Once you have good material, your options include:
- using it as a breading with crumbs and egg, like breaded mushrooms, or as a topping like sesame seed
- blend it into smoothies, hemp milk shakes, dressings, sauces, puddings, ice cream, pasta, cheese, yogurt, etc.
- use it as an inclusion in baked goods, bars, chocolate, corn chips, burgers, etc.
- on a dry pan, roast HempNut until brownish. Variations: add curry, and the HempNut will soak it up into the achene as it roasts. Add sugar, and it will caramelize while roasting, resulting in a killer ice cream topping (Hello, Ben & Jerry’s…). Add instant hot chocolate mix or cocoa with sugar, and it will be sublimely chocolatey and sweet, for a dessert topping. These variations have created what I found to be everybody’s most favorite hempseed food, ideal for introducing it to new consumers or buyers.
My The HempNut Cookbook has 200 recipes, and is free for download as is the reference The HempNut Book, the original version of the 2nd edition cookbook except without the recipes, but including a Glossary with 48 terms and full Bibliography with 514 references. It was what was sent to the publisher before it was edited to fit into 192 pages printed. With hempseed history, nutritional info, and more. 80 pages.
No doubt you are creative enough to find great ways to use it. For instance, the isoelectric point of hempseed is quite low, so blending it with warm or hot water will cause it to start to curd when adding balsamic. Make a savory cheese from that. I’ve made tofu with 1/3 hemp milk and 2/3 soy milk. The Chinese workers, in a blind test, all preferred the hemp tofu. It can be used in virtually ANY dairy product alternative, and ANY meat alternative. It will increase the protein and Omega-3 level of any food, and you can consider using FDA-legal structure-function claims.
Hempseed oil is usually misbranded as “Hemp oil.” Green oil is unrefined, amber is refined. Go with the refined, the chlorophyll in the unrefined makes it unstable to light and heat, more likely to go rancid and have a strong flavor. It should taste neutral to a little grassy, but not off or objectionable. If it tastes astringent in the back of your throat after a few seconds, it’s rancid. Use that for soap, they love all those free fatty acids.
Hempseed oil can be used as a replacement for other culinary oils in non frying applications. Some heat is OK, but the Conventional Wisdom on high-Omega-3 oils like fish, flax and hempseed, is that heating (over 350°F) then cooling them creates trans-fats. One study contradicted that, and gave us hope that hempseed oil was more stable than the others. I’m on the fence, so I’ll tell you what is safest: don’t fry with it.
Using even just an ounce of hempseed oil, say in a salad dressing, boosts the Omega-3 to over 5,000 milligrams (5 g), or 33 times higher than needed for a structure-function claim (150 mg). Hempseed oil is 20% Omega-3, 60% Omega-6 (not as important as -3), and has no protein. It is the hempseed food most likely to be highest in THC, and to cause drug-test positives.
Hempseed, hempseed oil, and hemp protein powder are all considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by FDA. CBD is not yet.
CBD is a new entrant to the hemp industry, only a few years old, but 100% of the adult human and pet population can benefit from CBD. It reduces cancer cell proliferation and inflammation, and is super good for the brain and liver. If I were to start HempNut Inc. today, every product would have CBD as well as HempNut in them. The target amount I would use is 25 mg CBD or CBDa (the raw, acid form) per serving. At $50/gram for CBD oil (a low but realistic price in Colorado), 25 mg will cost you $1.25. CBD presents far more difficult flavor issues than HempNut or hempseed oil. CBD oil, which can be 70% CBD, is very unpalatable. The terpenes Beta-Caryophyllene and Myrcene are the culprits, extremely peppery and persistent. Tamarind or ginger might be needed to mask it. Another CBD material is powdered fresh tops, which has less CBD thus is lower in the offending Terpenes.