Hop shoots are the new asparagus. They look similar, and have a similar taste, but they come from very different plants.
Hop shoots are the green tips of the hop plant, which are harvested from the parts of the plant that won’t go on to produce the flowers (hop cones) used in creating beer. These little plant shoots are also the world’s most expensive vegetable.
In 2015, their price was just about $500 per pound (£720 a kilo). This made them more expensive than any other vegetable on the market. This insanely high price is due to a few factors.
Hop Shoots Production
These little hop shoots are apparently back-breaking to harvest. They don’t grow in a uniform row, they are hard to spot, and they are tiny enough that hundreds are needed to make a decent haul.
If you happen to grow your own hop plants, you can certainly harvest your own hop shoots. However, unless you have a lot of hop plants, don’t expect to gather a few meals worth.
When unwanted hop shoots in your garden are about 5-6″ tall, harvest them by cutting them off just above the soil. These shoots should be just starting to set their first tier of leaves. Ideally, you should harvest the shoots before they see the light.
By preventing light from coming into contact with the hop shoots, you keep the shoots tender not woody.
Hop Shoots Taste
When ate raw, hop shoots have a mix of dry, astringent and bitter tastes that are not unlike chewing on a batch of weeds. Luckily, when cooked they are completely different.
After cooking – grilled or sautéd – they have a kale-like quality with a slight nuttiness coming from the stems. Hop shoots get associated with asparagus because of their looks, and not necessarily because of their taste.
We’ve come up with a quick way to prepare hop shoots if you happen to ever come across a bunch.
- Prepare brown butter in a large skillet, then add a splash of lemon juice, some salt and pepper, and your hop shoots.
- When the liquid starts to steam, cover the skillet. Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Remove from heat, plate the entire skillet, and enjoy!