Caught on the Hop

You can sow hops seeds now. This was brought to my attention by a recent post on What to sow in October by The Unconventional Gardener. Sown now and planted in a favourable spot, a hop plant could be giving a harvest of hop shoots in 2018.

The young shoots of the hop plant (Humulus lupulus) are a prized spring vegetable gathered, ideally, shortly after they emerge from the ground and before the leaves unfurl. They are boiled in salted, acidulated water or cooked in butter in a covered pan until tender and served as they are or in a hollandaise or tomato sauce or with eggs, mushrooms etc.

young hop leaves

We have a Golden Tassels hop growing in our backyard which has really taken off this year. This golden dwarf hop suits the limited space we have in the garden but it has been bred as an ornamental variety. Its shoots will probably taste fine but with plenty of growing space it would be worth exploring the rich and varied world of hop varieties especially if one has brewing in mind. Growing hop shoots is an extra source of income for hop growers (sometimes they take the roots of older plants and bury them in soil on a heated floor to produce blanched shoots) - I couldn't discover any variety that has been especially selected for shoot production.

Golden Tassels hop

I missed the boat for hop shoots this year. Our plant could probably have been harvested for a few shoots in spring but I decided to hold off for one more year.

Apart from beer and hop shoots and its attractiveness in the garden there are many other reasons to plant hops. (I found suggested uses of tea, medicine, sleep pillows, paper, string, garlands, dye, baking powder substitute and as a secondary host plant for the comma, red admiral and peacock butterflies). Looking out of the kitchen window at the hop vines festooning the wall of the backyard made me wonder if I could eat the flowers.

Hop flowers

I hope you can because I just did! I had bruschetta with hops for lunch following Ian Knauer's recipe here.

Ingredients for hop bruschetta

Hop bruschetta

Wow, hop bruschetta is indescribable - hop to it and try it yourself!

N.B. I sell a range of perennial vegetable plants on my website.