I fully accept the traditional wisdom that dates back to Izaack Walton who wrote that hemp seed should be soaked and then boiled until the husks split. However, there is much to commend the alternative that does not advocate such severe and prolonged a boil as to make all of the husks split.
That said, I know how much many of you like to see those little white shoots in your hemp seed so here's a fail safe way to ensure your hemp splits during preparation.
Measure out the required amount of dry seed and place it in a suitably sized saucepan Cover with cold water - tap water will be fine - and for every pint of dry seed add the following:
5g sea salt
5g Bicarbonate of soda
5g Chilli Flakes
(Note: A 5ml measuring spoon will equate roughly to five grams in weight of a dry ingredient.) Stir the additives into the water and leave the bait to stand for 24-36 hours.
Now to complete the preparation process: first bring the water to the boil and then give the bait a vigorous simmer for 20-30 minutes. (A 'vigorous simmer is not as intense as a full-on boil, but is more active than a normal simmer. I hope that make things clear!)
When the seed's husks starts to spit and the white content starts to show, drain off the water by straining through a sieve. The longer you boil the bait the more the seed will split so control the boiling time according to how much split hemp seed you feel is necessary. Personally I like to halt preparation when only a small amount of seed is showing its white interior.
You may wonder why I prefer not to allow all the seed to split. Well it's simply because I like my hemp seed to retain a larger proportion of its natural oil within the whole seed and once the husk splits much of the hemp oil is lost.
It would be a shame to waste all that hugely attractive natural oil so I suggest that you keep the water in which the seed has been boiled to dampen groundbait, or maybe use it as a liquid to wash out boilies.
Most people like to use their hemp seed as soon as possible after it has been prepped, maybe even while it is still warm, as Rod Hutchinson suggested. However, there is much to be said in favour of freezing the bait in small batches. First I vacuum-seal the bait in one pint bags. This Slaouwo sealer is very effective and is available on Amazon for around £30. (And please don't ask me how to pronounce the name; I haven't a clue!)
The sealed bags can be kept frozen for up to six months. Personally I have found over the many years I have used frozen hemp seed that it becomes more attractive after thawing. I have no idea why this should be…it just seems that way!
Hemp seed plays a huge part in my day to day fishing as along with groats, hemp seed is right up there at the top of the charts when it comes to attraction and nutrition.
TOP TIP!: Keep your eye on the surface above the bait. When the carp move in and start to feed they crush the husks in their pharyngeal teeth, which releases some of the hemp oil. This tends to flatten the water and this is a clear indication that carp are feeding on your bait. Action is imminent!
And here's one I caught earlier!