Eating Hop Shoots

Have you tried eating hop shoots before?  Maybe you should!  It turns out that hop shoots are the most expensive vegetable in the world– and I have them growing wild in my back yard!  To tell the truth, the wild hops in my yard are a real nuisance– they grow all over the shrubs back there, and don’t even produce very good hops for brewing with.  But the shoots?  Well, they are good to eat.Eating Hop ShootsAccording to my favorite foraging book, the shoots can be picked from mid-March to no later than May.  So, now is the time!

I picked them for the first time this year, admittedly a bit skeptical.  Mine are wild and not plump like the ones they hold festivals for in Belgium.  Also, they were kind of prickly.  But why not try them?  People say that they are a good substitute for asparagus, which I love.  I chopped up a few and cooked them in butter, an sprinkled with salt.  Delicious!  And indeed, very asparagus-like.

I couldn’t gather enough for a full side dish at dinner, so instead I added them to a foraged frittata last week.  I sauteed wild onions in butter, then added the hops shoots, garlic mustard greens, and dandelions.  The results were great!IMG_9057Do you have hops growing in your yard somewhere? Now is the time to pick the shoots– when they are just a few inches long, and tender.  You can chop them and add them to your dishes in the same way you might use asparagus or another green vegetable.
You can also cook them more delicately by steaming them, then drizzling with a little olive oil and some freshly chopped chives.

Recipes for Eating Hop Shoots

(I hope to add more to this list as I find them!)

IMG_9054The bines (not a typo– they are technically not vines) are great for covering up unsightly walls, as they grow quickly and have such lush leaves and are very pretty.  They look a bit like grape vines.  I have picked hops cones (the flowers) before and dried them to make teas– they have a calming, sedative effect.

I know of one cookbook right now that actually talks about eating hop shoots and gives instructions for preparing them– Jan Grigson’s Vegetable Book.IMG_9051Have you tried eating hop shoots?  If not, have I talked you into trying them?

Common Sense Caution: Don’t go around eating plants you are not familiar with. Do some research first to make sure you know what it is.  Google image search is your friend!  I have a good collection of foraging books to help me spot edibles and avoid toxic plants.  Here are a few I recommend: Food for Free, Foraging and Feasting, Thrifty Forager, The Forager’s Harvest.  Also note that some people are allergic to hops.

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12 Responses to Eating Hop Shoots

  1. Naomi April 23, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    No way!! I know where some are, I hope I can get to them before it’s too late. The frittita sounds amazing, very foragey :)

  2. Hausfrau April 24, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    I’d be happy to try them–just not sure if we have any growing in our immediate area. Now I’m wanting to check, though!

  3. Ashley Hedrick Browning April 26, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    These look tasty! And I love the wild onions and dandelions in the frittata! I’m trying to get more into foraging food so this is really helpful! Pinned too!

  4. Alex April 26, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    I haven’t found any growing near me, but I’d love to try them! Thanks for sharing.

  5. LittleOwlCrunchyMomma April 28, 2014 at 4:53 am #

    Oh my goodness, Ariana! Seriously. I have a crush on your brain.

    This is awesome. You get cooler every blog post. We have quite a few hops around the eco-village, I am going to scout them out tomorrow and see what I can find!

    Thanks so much for sharing. Pinning and sharing via SoMe too! ;)

  6. Hilda April 30, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    I was thinking of planting hops, just to cover an unsightly fence, but now you have convinced me I should. Meanwhile will check and see if there are any established ones around.

    • ariana May 6, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      Yes, I’ve picked them to eat about 5 times now. I’m pulling out the vines as they are growing all over my shrubs, but they do a really nice job covering things up! I hope you find some to eat.

  7. Wolf Linderman January 3, 2015 at 2:43 am #

    Wow! I have TONS of hops come up in my yard every spring. I never knew the shoots were edible. Thanks! We are going to try the frittata next spring!

  8. The Beer Spy February 13, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    First of all great post! It’s great to see someone exploring the culinary side of hops!

    Second, I don’t mean to get overly technical, but “the most expensive vegetable in the world” is the nearly white, sometimes purple, hop shoots that haven’t quite made their way to the sunlight. These are the hop shoots that are prized in Belgium and sell for about $128 per pound. They’re soft but crisp, and they aren’t prickly at all until they start to green up. Also, the price on them drops to about the same as asparagus once they start turning green.

    This spring, put a few inches of mulch over the plants to maximize the amount of white hop shoots that you harvest; the mulch forces the hop shoots to travel a little further to break out and find the sun. Remove the mulch when you’re ready to harvest (Just before they break out of the ground) and you’ll find that you have lots of nice, soft, asparagus like hop shoots. I have photos of some at the link below:


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