Other Common names
Hop Asparagus and Poor Man’s Asparagus.
What are my special features?
Hopshoots are the young tips of the perennial hop plant. At the start of growth, hopshoots are dark purple in colour and change quickly to produce vivid green curling tips. They are less than 15cm in length and the younger the plant, the more asparagus-like it appears. Hopshoots have a fresh delicate flavour and are slightly peppery. Comparisons in taste qualities are often made between asparagus and hopshoots. Hopshoots can be steamed, used in stir-frying, soups or risotto dishes.
Hopshoots have a limited growing season and are only available during a few weeks in March and April. Although specific standards within the organic growing procedure remain unclear, organic growing is needed in order to eat hopshoots as a vegetable. Hopshoots have to be picked quickly before they develop into the hop vine. Hopshoots can be sold in either bud or tip form.
What is my history?
As well as being valued within the brewery industry, hops were also sought after by the Romans who viewed them as a culinary delicacy and acknowledged by medieval monks as a medicinal herb. The hop industry within England is thought to have originated in Kent during the 1520’s before expanding into the areas of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. These areas provided ideal growing conditions for hops and were in close distance to valuable workforces within the Midlands. For a limited period only, hop production also took place within Shropshire and Gloucestershire.
Various festivals such as the Bromyard Hop Festival in Herefordshire and Faversham Hop Festival in Kent still celebrate the rich hop history and production of these areas.
Although the picking and use of hopshoots within Kent, Sussex, Herefordshire and Worcestershire may have existed, the nature of this is unknown due to the majority of documented history being in relation to the brewery industry.
Why am I forgotten?
Hopshoot production is threatened as there are only a very small number of known producers. In addition to this, hopshoots have a short season of availability and hops are mainly seen in terms of the brewery industry.
Don’t lose me… cook me!