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Monday, July 14, 2014

Hops - The World Cup Champion

As I mentioned in the Flavors of the World Cup breakdown, hops are a pretty big deal in Germany. After doing a little research about hops' history, I've of course discovered conflicting information. Most sources say hops are indigenous to Europe, but then some sources say a closely related type of hop was growing in the New World before the Eurasian hops crossed over in the 1600s. Sources also differ on the first location of hops' cultivation (some say Germany, others say France) and when brewers first started using hops. (This seems like the most well-documented, brief history of hops, should you be interested in learning more.)

History aside, we do know that hops have a variety of uses in the kitchen and in your herbal medicine cabinet. And, even if you don't exactly love hops in their most common state (beer), give our hops a shot. Their floral, herbaceous, piney, and bitter edge add a little somethin' somethin' to foods, not to mention the hoppy health benefits (outlined below).

A few ideas to get you started:

- Grind some hops into a powder and sprinkle a little powder on ice cream, or add to other sweets for a hint of bitterness.

- Infuse white wine or champagne vinegar with a few hops, then use the vinegar in dressings or when cooking.

- Make a hop tea to help fight insomnia, nervousness, and anxiety (it's a sedative!). Hops' bitterness also stimulates the appetite.

- Drop a hop in a pot of soup or stew and remove after cooking (much like a bay leaf). Remember: hops are quite strong so start small and work your way up.

- Don't want to eat your hops? Infuse water with hops and then use as a rinse to fight skin irritations such as eczema and ulcers.

- Put hops into your pillow (really) to help calm and relax your nerves (even King George III and Abraham Lincoln did it!)

So don't be bitter if your flavor didn't win! Given their versatility, hops were bound to succeed. Have you tried cooking with hops? Did we leave out an important tidbit that you think the world should know? Let us know in the comments.


The Earthwise Herbal: A Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants by Matthew Wood
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier


Kara Elder grew up playing in the kitchen cupboards and reading cookbooks for fun while watching her mom cook tasty Mexican meals. After graduating with a degree in Russian, she found herself increasingly interested in reading food blogs and planning menus. Kara, her mom, and her sister started a food blog of their own, The Troika Table. Kara is a Bazaar Spices Team Member and also works for Joan Nathan, a DC-based cookbook author and food writer. 

1 comment:

  1. Your gramps cousins in Mabton, WA own a hop farm. I am sure they have lots of recipes. Interesting and I never thought about using hops for anything other than beer making.