Last year I went harvesting Hop Shoots for the first London Hop Shoot Festival and I had a brilliant time. You can read my blog post about my hop shoot picking last April on the blog post I did for Great British Chefs.
This year, the weather hasn’t been kind to the intrepid hop shoots, but now that spring has finally sprung, the hops plants have now emerged from the Kentish earth to grow into one of the few raw materials you need for beer–OR for a fantastic, greenly bitter vegetable to pair with your poached eggs, mix into your salads or, hell, throw it in a damn burger.
The London Brewers’ Alliance is calling on volunteers to spend a day out in the countryside Friday, the 17th of May, to pick the little hop shoots on a hop farm in Kent. They are also looking for chefs keen to work with this interesting ingredient once known as “the poor man’s asparagus.”
Side note: Seems like there are many “poor man’s” substitutes for foods, though it’s interesting to note that the poor man’s lobster, monkfish, is now equalling if not exceeding lobster prices at the market. Could it be that hop shoots might command such high culinary demand in the future?!
It’s very possible–so get involved!
Be sure to keep an eye on @LondonHop on Twitter and the London Hop Shoot Festival on Facebook. There’ll be two minibuses (one in North London, one in South) that will be ferrying pickers to the fields, but space is limited. You can also arrange for your own trip down. Here’s where the hops will be picked:
Harts Heath Farm
Wilden Park Rd
If you’d like to volunteer as a restaurant or pub chef, or as a hop shoot picker, or for further details, please contact Peter Haydon from The Florence in Herne Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re volunteering to pick hops, it’ll be wise to plan for the joys of British spring weather. Bring your wellies or other sturdy farm-stompin’ boots, along with some plant cutters if you have them to cut the shoots from the plants. Also bring a cooler or a cool box if you have one to keep the hop shoots in when they’re trundled back to various pubs and restaurants around London to be used as a very fresh ingredient for the day.
The hop shoots picked this year will be from the Admiral hop plant, and there’s plans to have a rustic field kitchen in place, along with some beer for the volunteers. Last year, several people came from breweries and pubs all over London, and it was a real great time. If you weren’t convinced by my blog post on Great British Chefs, you should see Anne Faber’s wonderfully picturesque post on her food blog. This year should be a good craic as well, so get on it, particularly if you’re a fan of local food AND beer.