Hemp oil, or more correctly, hempseed oil, is refined from varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa, but should not be confused with hash oil which is made from the Cannabis flower. Hemp oil is made from pressing the seeds, and cold pressed unrefined oil is dark to clear light green in colour with a nutty flavour. The darker the colour, the grassier the taste.
In its different grades of refinement, hempseed oil has a wide variety of uses including body care products, industrial lubricants, paints, inks, fuel and plastics. Nutritionally, it is valuable because of its 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids, which matches the balance required by the human body.
It’s important to note that you can’t really “cook” with hemp oil because it loses much of its essential qualities when heated beyond a lukewarm temperature. If the oil starts to smoke (which hemp oil does quite quickly) it’s gone too far. A quick sauté is possible. It’s best added as a cold drizzle or pouring oil and works well in situations where you might have used walnut oil, olive oil, or butter. It’s great used as a dip for bread.
Hemp oil has many healthy and social conscience advantages over many other oils (it meets vegetarian, vegan, and raw vegan requirements), and some people refer to it as the new coconut oil. It can satisfactorily be added to salad dressings, smoothies, hummus, protein shakes, dips, sandwich spreads, sauces, cold soups, and pesto, and offers cooks a chance to be creative. As it says on the bottle of some brands, it is nutty, nutritious, and delicious, with an earthy taste.
Best, when choosing a brand, is to go for cold pressed and unrefined which contains the optimum amount of nutrients.
Here is a useful short video by Swanson Health Products: