Traditional Cooking with Hemp Seeds

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The term “hemp” refers to cannabis (marijuana), but is generally exclusive of the psychoactive forms of the cannabis plant. Traditional cooking with hemp seeds, the subject of this post, is not about whipping up some drinks, soups, porridge, or brownies to get high on. We are not discussing utilizing the THC-laden buds grown for recreational and/or medicinal purposes nowadays.

Marijuana THC Buds (Photo Attributed to Author: D-Kuru)

Marijuana THC Buds (Photo Attributed to Author: D-Kuru)

winkLet’s get that clear right now, okay?


Hemp plants are indigenous to, and have grown wild, in many regions all over the world. For thousands of years, people living in these regions have made use of cannabis seeds in their traditional cooking. And why not? They grow freely, are widely available, and cost nothing more than the labor to go out in the fields and harvest them.

Traditional Cooking with Hemp seeds has been in use for many generations worldwide.

World regions such as China, Mongolia, Germany, Russia and Northeast Europe have, since remote ancient times, made use of wild hemp, and have long ago learned how to cultivate the plant for improved quality and seed production.

And in the Americas, North (Canada, USA and Mexico) and South (Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, etc.) the indigenous natives all knew of and used cannabis as a food source and for medicinal purposes.


Native American Peace Pipe Ritual

Native American Peace Pipe Ritual

Some native Amer-Indian tribes used the THC psychoactive forms of cannabis as part of their religious rituals and social practices, as well.

The traditionally famous “Peace Pipe” ritual is a prime example. When visitors from one tribe came to another tribe, they were treated to a smoke from a pipe, the bowl of which was loaded with the host tribe’s favorite herbs.

Some of the local tribes’ smoke of choice for this ritual was the dried and crushed THC buds from the marijuana plant.

But back on point…

European settlers who came to and eventually overtook the Americas had long been aware of cannabis plants in Old Europe. They were familiar with the nutritional uses of hemp seeds. Cultivation of the plant among the American settlers became normal, and is still widely practiced today.

Traditional cooking with hemp seeds takes on several forms of usage. The seeds may be used whole, rolled and/or ground to produce flour or meal, or pressed to extract oil. Used as oil, or whole, or as a flour or meal, a wide array of soups, stews, and porridges can be produced.

Because hemp seeds are rather difficult to de-hull, traditional cooking with hemp seeds in rural areas produced flour and meal that was quite gritty. Because of this, hemp flour and meal was not as popular as the other grains available, in spite of its well-known nutritional value. Even so, when famine or hard times hit, hemp flour and meal was a much welcomed resource to fall back on.

Of course now in modern times, where in most developed regions the proper machinery is available, hemp flour and meal produced today is just as fluffy and desirable as that of other grains.

Here are some of the ways in which different regions of the world have done (and still do) traditional cooking with hemp seeds:

Traditional Cooking with Hemp Seeds in Asia:

In China, even present day, hemp seeds are a popular snack food – much like Westerners enjoy popcorn. A Chinese family, while on outings, will commonly stop at local food stands in the marketplace and buy a bag of roasted hemp seeds. And roasted (also raw) hemp seeds are a favorite munchies food to serve at social gatherings.

The Chinese have eaten whole hemp seeds – roasted or raw – for so long the country has been known to characterize itself traditionally as “The Land of Hemp and Mulberry”.

In Nepal, for many generations, rural households have used the locally-produced oil from hemp seeds for cooking purposes. This practice still continues today. In fact, in many of the more isolated and remote areas, hemp seed oil is oftentimes the only type of vegetable oil used for cooking their meals.

Traditional Cooking with Hemp Seeds in Europe:

In Latvia, the most traditionally significant date in the calendar is the annual celebration, in June, of the Midsummer’s Day.

And guess what has been, for centuries, one of the most favorite traditional foods taken on that day?

You guessed it: hemp seeds.

The seeds are eaten whole, raw and/or roasted, but they are also crushed, the oils extracted, and added to sweet-cream butter. This imparts to the butter an appealing verdant hue, and gives it the slightly “bitter and smoky” flavor that is beloved by Latvians. Kaņepju Pavalgs, which this traditional hemp butter is known as, is still today enjoyed all over Latvia. Latvian health food stores and local farmers’ markets will have it, and the product sells in abundance.

Hemp Seed Butter (Photo Attributed to Author: Mi Medrado)

Hemp Seed Butter (Photo Attributed to Author: Mi Medrado)

The most common use of hemp butter is to use it as a spread on bread or toast. But it is also used as an ingredient in quite a few recipes. The pleasant and subtle color, aroma and flavor “accent” it adds to the dishes is considered especially desirable.

Hemp seeds and the oil produced from them were used in medieval Italy and Germany, for a number of culinary purposes. The dishes prepared using hemp included pie crusts and fillings, and several soups. In the Baltic and Northeast regions of Europe, where hemp cultivation has been and still is traditional, the local hemp seed is still produced and used widely. Whether used for its oil, or used whole, or crushed to make meal and flour, hemp is utilized in a wide variety of recipes.

A longstanding traditional dish in Lithuania is a savory porridge, hemp-based, which is served over baked, unpeeled potatoes. Kanapiø Koðë, as it is called, is made by first dry-frying hemp seeds. They are then ground into a fine powder. Once the powder is made, it is then used as a final additive to a mixture of pepper, salt, flour, and onion that has been simmered in hot water. The mixture is removed from the heat, and has the hemp powder stirred into it. Also used in certain religious festivals in Lithuania is hemp milk, a traditional substitute for cow’s milk.

Still traditionally served on Christmas Eve in descendants of Silesian and Lithuanian households (a historic region situated in the region now known as Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic) is a hemp-based soup called Siemieniatka kanapiø koðë (or, more commonly, semianka).

Semianka is prepared by putting whole hemp seeds in water and simmering them until they start to burst. They are then drained and crushed, a process which produces a sap-like, milky substance. This “hemp milk” is then used in combination with cow’s milk, with the addition of sugar, salt, butter and flour, and then simmered some more until it turns into a rich, creamy and thick, soupy porridge.

(Note: for a recipe on how to prepare your own Semianka, but with a bit less labor involved than these ancient peoples had to do, Click Here)

So there you have it, a fair sampling of the many ways traditional cooking with hemp seeds has been practiced throughout the ages in regions around the world.

And as “new” knowledge about the immense nutritional value of hemp foods comes to light, food products derived from the cannabis plant are rapidly increasing in popularity by even modern, cosmopolitan societies.

And not just because they providing a valuable addition to the formulation of a solid basis for a healthy diet, either. The many worthy properties of hemp include being of assistance in maintaining the body’s resistance to disease, as well as providing pain relief and sometimes cures for a good many illnesses.

If hemp is good for what ails you, then surely it makes for good food, too!

If you would like to try some hemp products, but can’t get them easily where you live, here are links to our online store:

Hemp Butter

Hemp Oil

Hemp Seeds

Hemp Health, Skin, and Hair Care Products

Note: I would like to give credit to journalist, consultand and photographer Seshata Sensi for a good deal of this information that I found helpful during my research.

Chow, y’all, happy hemp seed foods preparing and eating, and hey – please leave a comment. I love to engage with my readers. Ask a question, offer a suggestion, whatever … it’s all good.

My Best Always, Your Friend,

Marvin D Wilson (AKA “The Old Silly”)

Contact us and/or Join Our Mailing List
(We respect your privacy. Subscribers’ info are not shared with anyone. EVER)


23 thoughts on “Traditional Cooking with Hemp Seeds

  1. Hey! I’m glad to know that my article ( was so useful to you. Perhaps next time you take 90% of your material from another source, you would consider citing the original author?

    Also, if you are going to use my material, please try to avoid blatant inaccuracies like the following: “European settlers who came to and eventually overtook the Americas of course became familiar with the nutritional uses of hemp seeds. Cultivation of the plant became normal, and is still widely practiced today.”

    Hemp is an Old World plant, and did not exist in the Americas prior to European colonization.

    • Seshata, my humble apologies, I thought I had rephrased the content enough to not be blatant plagiarism – you don’t feel that way, I hope, do you? I drew content from more sources than just yours, and I always rewrite in my own style and “voice”.

      And thank you for your corrections. I will re-edit the article with your corrections, and I will certainly make a point to give credit for much of the content coming from your earlier article.

  2. Hi There, thanks for your article, I found it really interesting. I have over the years tried Hemp seeds, and hemp oil from my health food store. Don’t really like the taste all that much, but I know its really good for you. At the moment I have a bottle of the hemp oil sitting in my fridge. I cant stand it on my salads, but I have been told to just take a table spoon or two on its own in the mornings before food, which I have been doing and don’t mind that at all. Have I been given good advice and would you recommended this? Cheers Joanne

    • Good to hear some feedback from someone who is using hemp oil – thanks Joanne. I’m pretty sure your daily regimen of a small intake of the oil before eating is very good for you.

  3. Marvin, it’s a shame the lobbying parties in the US have so much power. The initial ban was instigated by the textile industry to protect their product.

    I am so glad the attitude towards hemp is changing. We have a very active medicinal hemp group here. The difference it has made to people, especially young children, who have epilepsy, in reducing the number of fits they have is amazing.

    Also hemp oil is very good at treating arthritic joint pain according to my neighbour. He has convinced me to try it so I will know soon if it works for me.

    Great article, well written and presented.


    • Thank you Helen, for the endorsing comment. I agree, hemp has taken an ill-deserved bad rap and been held back from its proper place in a balanced society, by a society that is unbalanced in its socio-economic priorities.

  4. This is such an interesting post. I knew the multiple benefits of hemp (such as materials of bags) and hemp seeds (for making oil) but I never knew that you can use it in cooking. I have never seen them sold in natural food store that I normally go to, but do you need to order them online?

    • Ayoko, you can order them right here on this site. Just click on the name of the ingredient you need in any of our recipes (the often “hard to find ones”) that are hyperlinked, and it will take you to our online store where you can purchase them. Here is a recipe using hemp seeds, you can find Hemp Seeds in the Ingredients list.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, and come back often!

  5. Wow, great read, Marvin!

    I’ve actually done some research into the nutritional values of hemp seeds, and it’s appalling to me that propaganda has made such a thriving, beneficial plant into something we should all shun. Even aside from cooking, the products that can be made out of hemp are numerous – like clothing, cheaper and stronger than cotton.

    Oh well. It seems that the more socially acceptable it becomes, the more people are finding out about the truths of the plant.

    I live in Colorado, so no worries here 😛

    Great post. Thank for sharing. All the best to you, Marvin.


  6. Hemp seeds, huh? Whodathunkiit? lol

    But very informative post, Marvin, I will definitely try some now.

  7. It’s “high time” (pun intended, teehee) that society in general accept the fact that the marijuana plant is a GIFT from God!

  8. Nice Marvin. I like the opening paragraph. It sets the table for the rest of the content. The background is a little distracting at first. It kept pulling my attention away from the content to the good-looking food dish. Now I’m hungry. LOL. This is a great subject that will attract many people.

  9. Interesting bit of history, and much appreciated. Cannabis has taken a bad rap for so long – ever since the anti-drug sentiment took over in the 60s. So it’s good to see that popular opinion is changing, and accepting all the many great culinary and health uses for hemp products.

  10. Wow I had no idea how hemp had been used for so many centuries and in so many ways!

    Great info here, Old Silly, and I already like hemp milk – think I will now try some of that hemp butter, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.