HEMP IN THE KITCHEN: USE, RECIPES, NUTRITIONAL VALUES
Hemp in the kitchen
In recent years, hemp cultivation has increased in Italy thanks to small (and young) farmers, who are planting it in small plots.
Of course, we refer to hemp (cannabis sativa), not to the Indian one, which has a higher THC level and consequently is the famous cannabis used for joint (or, to stay on the subject, cakes, and tea), which in most of the world is forbidden to plant and sell.
The cultivation of cannabis sativa, legal since 2002 in Italy, is essential for the production of fabrics and, lately, also of food: its organoleptic characteristics, in fact, make it a real superfood. Also, the cultivation of this plant is particularly eco-sustainable, since it does not require large quantities of water and is very resistant, so it does not need pesticides and invasive treatments.
Cooking with cannabis involves mainly the use of peeled seeds (these are, of course, the seeds of female plants).
The decorticated seed, therefore, is the most used product and keeps the energetic intake, which is varied, unaltered. The flour obtained from it and the seeds themselves can be used for soups, energy bars, pastries, where they are used in the same way as almonds. Cannabis seed flour, on the other hand, can be used alone or mixed with different types.
Hemp seeds have a high protein content as they contain all the eight essential amino acids, fundamental because the human body can only take them from food (it does not produce them by itself).
Besides, in 2005 the presence of linoleic acid in hemp, which belongs to the polyunsaturated fatty acids of the Omega 6 group, was demonstrated.
The seeds are also rich in vitamins (vitamin E) and mineral salts (calcium, magnesium, potassium).
Furthermore, the richness of hemp protein makes it perfect for high protein food regimes such as that of athletes and sportspeople, or for those who follow a vegetarian, raw food or vegan diet and needs to replace animal proteins.
Then, the fact that hemp contains various polyunsaturated fats makes it an ally against cardiovascular diseases (arteriosclerosis, eczema, acne, respiratory system diseases …) since the Omega 3 and Omega 6 ratio is the ideal one, equal to 5: 1.
In addition to the seeds and flour, oil can be extracted, which can be used like olive oil, i.e., raw to season food.
Being used for many products, from bread to desserts, from tofu to milk, the flavor of hemp is varied. The terpenes, however, give most of the scents (smell and taste) and depend on the type of grass, its origin, and the type of cultivation (hydroponics, natural, etc.). The spicy taste is given by caryophyllene, while the noble woody fragrances come from myrcene.
Hemp is a dioecious plant, that is, it includes only plants with male flowers and others with female flowers. Only in the flowering phase can the two types be recognized, not before. Also, it is part of the same family of plants to which hops belong, for which many cannabis-flavored beers have recently been born, while in some IPAs, it is possible to recognize herbaceous flavors reminiscent of those of this twin plant.
Returning to hemp, over the centuries, man has selected cannabis for seeds, for fiber, and for its psychotropic characteristics (cannabis or Indian cannabis, which has high levels of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
To date, you can buy in herbalist’s shop, biological, and online stores. Prices are not low, but with the take-over of alternative types of cuisine and diets, they will probably decrease.
Hemp-fu or hemp tofu, shichimi (a mixture of seven different spices that includes hemp seeds and which is used to season white meats, rice dishes …), ice cream or simple spaghetti: with hemp, you can do anything.
Speaking of spaghetti, an example are those of the Roman restaurant Titta al 162, which invented a type of pasta made of 8.18% hemp seed and durum wheat semolina. The recipe recalls the classic carbonara, revisited and reinterpreted without bacon, enriched with a fresh and colorful pumpkin flower.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)