Did you know that hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious seeds on the planet? A pretty big claim - but absolutely true. Now, let me also clear up a common misconception before I go on. Hemp is often confused with the cannabis plant - aka marijuana. It does belongs to the same family, but the two plants are very different. Hemp seeds don’t cause any psychoactive reactions and they are completely safe - as well as very healthy to eat. Read on – they may soon become the protein superfood you’ve been looking for!
Hulled, hemp seeds, look a little bit like sesame seeds with green flecks. They have a mild, nutty flavour with a soft, creamy texture. The dry, hulled seed is a tasty addition to sprinkle on salad and breakfast bowls or combined with other seeds in baking but it can also be emulsified into a high-protein, creamy, plant-based milk that is perfect for culturing into yogurt. In addition to coconut and nut milk yogurt, hemp milk is another dairy-free yogurt alternative for anyone on a paleo, plant-based vegan or vegetarian diet. Before we jump into making yogurt, let’s take a closer look at this super seed. Hemp seeds are:
Hemp seeds have been tagged as a ‘perfect protein’ because they not only contain all 20 amino acids, but also each of the nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce.
30% of hemp seed nutrition comes from quality, healthy fats. They contain both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids essential to good skin health, and a healthy brain!
Hemp seeds are high in insoluble and soluble fibre which is essential for a healthy and robust gut. Unlike other nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes, (particularly many vegetarian protein sources), hemp seeds don’t contain phytates, which can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals.
Hemp seeds are also great for hormone balance, heart health and weight loss and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron and zinc.
Hemp seeds are perfect for creating a creamy texture and replacing dairy. And no phytates mean the seeds don’t need to be soaked before-hand, making it a quick and easy seed to convert to milk.
Hemp seed milk will culture, but like other plant-based milks, it will not naturally thicken and set like dairy milk yogurt. Powdered agar agar derived from seaweed, is a great plant-based thickener that produces similar results to gelatin. Also, unlike animal milk, heep seed milk doesn’t naturally contain sugar. The yogurt starter culture or probiotic need something to feed on to allow the culturing process to take place. The little bit of white sugar in this recipe is enough to kick start fermentation.
In traditional dairy milk yogurt the bacteria in starter culture thrive on the sugar content (lactose). Alternative milks naturally have less sugar than dairy milk, so it is necessary to add a sweetener to the starter culture to promote fermentation. One teaspoon of sugar or one tablespoon of pasteurised honey is enough to kick start fermentation. Raw honey may have an antibiotic effect and is therefore not suitable for making yogurt.
Hemp yogurt has a strong, tart and earthy taste that will require more sweetener than other plant-based yogurts. It is best to stir in vanilla and maple syrup (or honey) after fermentation and chilling and then enjoy with lots of sweet berries and fruit.
2 teaspoons of agar agar powder
1 ½ cups of water (for simmering the agar agar)
1 cup hulled hemp seeds
2 ½ cups water (for making hemp milk)
1 teaspoon of white sugar or 1 tablespoon of pasteurised honey
Yogurt starter culture or probiotic capsule.
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 – 5 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey or more to taste.
1. Thoroughly wash or sterilize your yogurt making jar, whisk and other utensils with boiling water.
2. Pour 1½ cups cold water into a medium sized saucepan then stir in the powdered agar agar so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
3. Bring the mixture to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Stir once to lift grains of agar from the bottom of the saucepan. The agar grains must be dissolved completely.
4. After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
5. Add the hemp seeds, 2 ½ cups of water and salt into the blender jug.
6. Blend for 50 seconds or until the mixture resembles thick smooth creamy milk. (The consistency will be thicker than regular milk though).
7. Straining the hemp milk is an optional step and may be necessary depending on the power of your kitchen blender. Not all blenders will emulsify grains to powder as desired. If straining is required, strain the hemp milk in a nut milk bag or throw a piece of muslin cloth over a colander. After straining, pour the milk back into the blender jug.
8. Pour the agar water into the hemp milk and blend for 20 seconds to incorporate.
9. Pour the freshly made hemp milk into your Luvele glass yogurt making jar.
10. Add the white sugar and yogurt starter culture then whisk in.
11. Put the lid firmly on the glass yogurt jar and place into your yogurt maker.
12. Pour water slowly into the base. (The water must not be filled over the ‘tall line’ indicated on the inside wall of the maker). Then place the cover lid on top.
13. Use the digital control panel to set the temperature to 38 C, the time to 12 hours and then press ‘confirm’ to begin incubation.
14. After 12 hours the fermentation is complete. Turn the yogurt maker off. Remove the Luvele Yogurt Maker lid and gently lift out the glass jar. The hemp milk may have separated or appear lumpy. Don't worry.
15. Place the jar in the fridge for 6 hours or over night set.
16. After chilling, add the vanilla and maple syrup (or honey)
17. Use a wire whisk or stick blender to blend the hemp yogurt until smooth and creamy.
18. Best served with sweet fruit and additional sweetener.