Hop or hops is a perennial climbing vine native to the Northern Hemisphere. It’s one of the most delicious spring shoot for the passionate foragers. Female “flowers” (Cones) are used in beer making. Hops are dioecious (male and female plants).
Where you can find it?
Distribution: Circumboreal (Europe, Asia, North America)
Habitat: Hedgerows, woodlands and sunny waste ground. It prefers fresh, fertile soil environments, from 0 to 1200 meters.
When to harvest?
Shoots and leaves: can be harvested only in spring (March-May)
How do I use it?
Shoots: the first 20 cm lenght of young shoots can be cooked as vegetables, like asparagus, and was a Roman specialty. Hop shoots risotto (or frittata) is one of the most popular spring dish in Italy.
Young leaves: raw or cooked. You can serve it in salads o as a side-dish, like spinach, or as filling in savoury tarts and ravioli. Dried leaves in tea.
Shoots can be frozen (lightly cooked) or pickled. Leaves can be dried.
Root cuttings, division (in Spring), or layering. Rarely grown from seed. In your forest garden grow it on the sunny side of a tree (nitrogen-fixing alders are the best support).
Hops belongs to the family Cannabaceae. The hop, a component of beer, is a sedative plant whose pharmacological activity is due principally to its bitter resins. Poisonous to dogs – results in hyperthermia, seizures, and death. Some people can develop dermatitis (skin irritation) while picking the hops.