Hemp is a truly amazing plant with a variety of impressive qualities. It has commercial applications and has been used to produce clothing, rope, cosmetics, and backpacks just to name a few. But hemp also boasts incredible nutritional qualities and is becoming the preferred plant-based protein in athletic circles. But how, exactly, is hemp protein powder made? Read on to find out.
At first thought, this might seem a silly question with an all too simple answer. You may be thinking something along the lines of “Let me take a wild guess...hemp protein powder is made by grinding up hemp seeds”. Well much like saying “Netflix is awesome beyond words” it’s kinda true but not really.
Unfortunately, you can’t just throw hemp seeds into a blender, hit the switch, wait a minute and boom you have a pile of delicious and nutritious hemp protein powder. In order to make proper hemp protein powder, it’s necessary to separate the hemp seeds from the shells. And it’s not a super simple like cracking open a peanut. We have to work to get results.
How hard can it be to remove hemp seeds from their shells? The answer: Pretty damn hard. While it’s relatively easy to find whole hemp seeds if you live in an area with specialty health food stores, once you get your hands on them is when the real not-so-fun begins. Don’t get me wrong, I think we should control what we put into our bodies. But, as my craft beer experiment proves, sometimes it’s best to leave things to the experts. Let’s quickly go through how to remove hemp seeds from their shells.
First, spread the seeds evenly on a flat surface, otherwise known as a “table”. Next, take a cutting board and place it on top of the seeds. Then, tap the cutting board with a mallet or hammer to rupture the shells. Move the board around and tap the mallet on all areas so you break all the shells. Careful not to hit the board too hard. If you smash the seeds the next step will be ruined.
After you’ve delicately cracked all the shells place them in a bucket of water and stir them vigorously. The seeds will sink while the shells float to the surface. Skim the hulls off the top then pour the water through a colander to separate the seeds. And now you have yourself some hemp seeds. Maybe it doesn’t sound too bad...but that’s only the first step toward making hemp protein powder.
Now that you’ve gone through the process of removing the hemp seeds from the shells, you’ll have to dry them. How best to do this? You can use your food dehydrator. You have a food dehydrator, right? Actually this isn’t even a great idea because it makes the hemp taste terrible.
I’ve seen some people recommend drying hemp seeds in a microwave on the defrost setting but you’ll run into the same problem regarding taste. And I doubt you like microwaving much of anything anyway. So it’s back to the table to spread out the wet seeds to dry. It’s necessary to mix up the seeds every couple hours to help with the drying and it’ll take 24 to 48 hours for the seeds to completely dry. Onto the next step…
Now we need to figure out a way to remove the oil from the hemp seed. If you grind up the seeds without doing this you’ll end up with a paste instead of a powder. In order to separate the oil, the hemp seeds need to be cold-pressed with a significant amount of pressure. This leaves you with the hemp oil and a material called “cake”. The cake is the dry material used to make hemp protein powder.
Home cold-press oil extraction machines do exist but I doubt you want to fork over the $150 to get one. Other options exist to remove the oil from hemp seeds but some require using harsh chemicals while others are just too time consuming and difficult. Happily, there’s another way to get hemp protein powder into your post-workout shakes.
Sometimes it’s simply smarter to have someone else do the heavy lifting and this is definitely the case when it comes to hemp protein powder. The best option is to pick some up from a reputable source.
Be mindful of your choice because plenty of hemp protein products contain all types of additives, preservatives, and sugars. Things you certainly do not want to be putting into your body. Maybe the highest quality hemp protein powder on the market today is Hemp Pro from Focus Performance. It tastes amazing, contains not added sugar or artificial sweeteners, uses zero-calorie stevia to provide a touch of sweetness, and contains rice protein to add to the amino profile. Save yourself the time and effort and let the pros help you with this one.