New Hemp Cooking Oil Developed

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New Hemp Cooking Oil Developed

Hempseed oil is highly nutritious, but it is often overlooked as a viable commercial product – mainly due to its short shelf life. This is now set to change as researchers have developed a new line of hemp.

A visit to your local supermarket you will reveal that cooking oils are made from many different plants. Most commonly, oils are made from olives, sunflowers and rapeseed. What you are less likely to see is cooking oil made from hemp. And when you do see it, it is a high priced specialist product that is catering to a niche.

This is because hempseed oil was not seen as commercially viable. Its high polyunsaturated fat content makes it unstable under high temperatures, and makes it spoil very quickly. The chemical composition of hemp oil also gives it a very low smoking point, making it unsuitable for frying. This has led everyone from farmers to multi-national food corporations avoiding it or treating it with skepticism. Fortunately, this is set to change very soon, as scientists at the University of York have developed a new variation of hemp that produces an oil with much more desirable traits.

The new and improved hemp has been made from a selective breeding process, removing specimens that contained the enzyme responsible for the high levels of polyunsaturated fats. It has resulted in oil that contains high levels of oleic oil and monounsaturated fats instead. It has an 80% oleic content, whereas traditional hemp usually has less than 10%.

The creation of this new breed of hemp was published recently in the Plant Biotechnology Journal, and has been hailed as a major step in making hempseed oil a commercially viable product.

“The new line represents a major improvement in hemp as an oil crop. Similar developments in soybean and oilseed rape have opened up new markets for these crops, due to the perceived healthiness and increased stability of their oil,” said study co-author Professor Ian Graham

This new “Hemp V.2” increases the shelf-life of hempseed oil by five times, and makes it much more resilient and stable under higher temperatures, making it a viable and healthier option for food based industries. Furthermore, this has all been achieved without affecting flowering time, yields or growth habits.

The new hemp cultivar will be examined next year across Europe in order to evaluate its potential for large scale cultivation. Hopefully we will soon see begin to see massive fields of hemp become a much more common sight out in the countryside!