Cooking with Hemp and Cannabis

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
August 26, 2020
Cannabis Flour Hemp Flower
Cannabis Flour Hemp Flower

Cooking with Hemp – Hemp Flour

You’ve probably heard of hemp, whether it’s from fabric uses, construction, or even yes, related to marijuana. But you also may have heard of hemp flower. Or is it flour? Well, honestly, it’s both. Hemp flower is the plant. Hemp flour is a use of it.

You can learn more about hemp and hemp flower here.

We’re going to talk about an interesting use of hemp, in hemp flour, or as it’s sometimes called, hemp seed flour. Yes, for cooking and baking. But before we go any further I just want to clarify, this is not directly about edibles, at least not in the sense of marijuana edibles. Hemp, even CBD derived from hemp, has very little THC in it, the ingredient that is associated with the “high”. Hemp has very low THC, so that no matter how many sandwiches made with hemp flour bread, you won’t have hallucinations or a high.

What Is Hemp Flour?

Hemp flour comes from the oil pressed from the hemp seed. Hemp seeds oily, with about 30% of the seed being oil. When it’s removed what is left if a dense wad, or cake, that can be ground down and made into flour. Even when ground down, it’s still thick, thicker than most flour we’re used to, so it’s not effective on it’s own. It’s best when mixed with other flour. It also lightens the flavor, since hemp flour, unlike typical baking flour, has a bit of a nut flavor to it.

But you know what it doesn’t have? THC. So just a reminder: don’t confuse hemp with cannabis. While they’re similar, hemp flour is made from a different part of the hemp flour, it’s harvested differently than marijuana, and it does not contain THC, the chemical most associated with cannabis that causes a psychoactive response, and makes people feel high.

Nutritional Value of Hemp Flour

Along with the hint of flavor, it brings a number of other surprises, too. Hemp is full of nutrients that make it a great additive to other flours or grains, like wheat, barley, soy.

  • Protein (33% to soy which is 35%)
  • amino acids
  • fiber
  • omega and other essential fatty acids
  • antioxidants
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • zinc
  • manganese
  • gluten-free
  • nut-free
NOTE: hemp flour on it’s own naturally meets these criteria, but there is always the possibility of cross contamination based on growing conditions and proximity.

It’s truly a great option for vegetarians, those who are vegan, suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, sugar sensitivities, and it’s even kosher! (Make sure you check the ingredients of the other products you’re mixing it with to make sure those meet your health and culinary needs as well.) And while it adds a nutty flavor to the mix, it’s also nut free!

Here’s the full nutritional breakdown of hemp seeds (source USDA National Nutrient Database)

  • Serving size: 3 tablespoons / 30 grams
  • Nutrtition:

Hemp Flour vs. Other Flours

Since flour is an critical part of cooking and backing, it’s important to remember that in addition to the added thickness and chewiness, it also will not rise on it’s own, so that’s another reason to mix it with other flour to get the effect, nutrient benefits, and taste.

Even within this nutrient-rich flour, there are other nuggets of benefits, too.

  • Wheat Flour
    Hemp flour, even when added to other flour, brings more organic, natural nutrients and ingredients that have typically been refined out of your regular wheat flour.
  • Oat Flour
    While oat flour is better than wheat flour for it’s nutritional options, hemp flour contains more protein and healthy fats. It’s also good to know that oats for oat flour are often grown alongside wheat, barley, and rye, which can increase the chances of cross exposure for those who might have gluten sensitivities, another reason why hemp flour is a better choice.
  • Chickpea Flour
    You can easily make your own chickpea flour by grinding your dried chickpeas. Like hemp flour, it’s gluten-free and is a high fiber, high protein food that with antioxidants. But hemp flour still has more health and nutrient benefits, even with the inclusion of the amino acids alone.

Hemp Flour is Environmentally Friendly

The hemp plant has been referred to as a “Buffalo food”, in reference to the Native American idea of using all parts of the Buffalo, eliminating waste and being efficient. The hemp plant is similar in that all parts of the plant can and is used, from the leaves to the seeds, to the stalks.

It’s also a hearty plant that grows quickly with out need for fertilization or chemical additives. It’s as if it’s immune to insects and since it grows quickly, it’s a renewable resource that just keeps giving, for a huge variety of uses across personal use and industries.

How to Use Hemp Flour

We’ve touched on the basics and you may be ready to move forward and make hemp flour for your cooking and baking needs. How do you go about that? You can check with naturopathic or boutique stores, or buy it online just like you can buy other hemp products like hemp milk, hemp oil, hemp cake, hemp protein, or you can add it to your own flour you already have.

If you have your own hemp plants, you’ll start with the seed cake. You’ll want to make sure that the seeds have been processed beforehand, that they don’t have any chemicals or pesticides, but that you can determine when you purchase your hemp flower and or hemp seeds.

Once you have your seed cake, you grind it into a find material. It’s always a good bet to sift it, to make sure it’s fine enough, because when you’re done, you have 100% hemp flour, ready to use and add to your own mixture.

The recommended mixture is about 1:4,
with one-part hemp flour to four-parts other.

Side Effects

It seems odd to hear of side effects of food, but we’re including a general warning. Since hemp seeds are high in fat, if you start to eat more and more hemp products, including hemp milk, oil, seeds, cake, and if you start baking with it exclusively, it could have uncomfortable side effects, such as digestive upset or diarrhea.

There’s also a unique issue to consider with regard to hemp seed consumption. Hemp seeds may inhibit platelet formation, and could have interactions with any anticoagulant medications, which could then increase risk of bleeding.

So it’s best to check with your doctor first if you have concerns, and remain informed. And as always, start slow, as with any new foods, to see how you like it and how you and your body react to it.