Not long ago, home cooks basically picked from one of three cooking fats: corn oil, vegetable oil and lard.
Then along came the likes of Rachael Ray with her “EVOO,” and before we could say “pass the vinaigrette,” olive, grape seed and coconut oils became as standard in the American pantry as peanut butter.
So it follows that in this era of legalization, when expanded mainstream pot knowledge also means that more people recognize the distinctions between cannabis and hemp, that a product such as Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Hemp Oil is now getting its just deserts.
As well it should, just as long as dessert is something that cooks avoid making with this particular hemp product.
The upside to cooking with hemp oil is clear: This is an easy way to absorb hemp’s protein, fiber and “healthy fats,” namely Omega-3 and Omega-6.
But one drawback for consumers with sensitive palates — a.k.a. home cooks — is that just like many other hemp products, you will taste and smell hemp’s grassy bouquet in this cooking oil, which also has a green color.
When I used Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Hemp Oil instead of olive oil to process a batch of homemade pesto, those big garlic and basil flavors easily conquered the hemp’s nutty taste.
When I rubbed a piece of fresh salmon with hemp cooking oil before grilling, on the other hand, the fish retained a slightly green pallor and the earthy hemp flavor from the oil.
And that was enough testing for this home cook to determine that coconut oil (or butter!) would be better ingredients for sweet recipes than hemp oil.
The taste testers at Nutiva might also recognize the culinary limitations of hemp oil: The vinaigrette recipe on the back of my bottle suggests making the salad dressing by cutting the hemp with olive oil before adding vinegar. To conserve this product’s nutritional benefits, Nutiva also recommends using hemp oil for cold or gently-heated preparations as opposed to searing and baking.
Prices at Nutiva’s online store range from $8.99 for an 8-ounce bottle to $38.99 for a gallon (currently sold out) of Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Hemp Oil. This product also is available at select Natura Grocers, Sprouts and Whole Foods locations, and at The Vitamin Shoppe, 385 S. Colorado Blvd. Click here to locate a store near you.