FoodRare delicacy: The wild vegetable fetching £870 per kilo

Rare delicacy: The wild vegetable fetching £870 per kilo

Wild hops grow everywhere. Its young shoots are a valued and expensive vegetable in Western Europe.
Wild hops grow everywhere. Its young shoots are a valued and expensive vegetable in Western Europe.
Images source: © Adobe Stock
Katarzyna Bogdańska

29 June 2024 14:41

It is called "the most expensive vegetable in the world." Germans, French, and Belgians will pay up to £870 per kilogram for the best specimens. Meanwhile, it is often treated as a weed.

Hop cones are a unique raw material used in brewing, medicine, and cooking. Their calming and health properties make them a valuable ingredient increasingly appreciated worldwide.

It may surprise you that young hop shoots are considered extremely valuable vegetables in Western countries, where they fetch astronomical prices.

French, Belgians, and Germans appreciate this unique vegetable. Les jets de houblon can cost up to £870 per kilogram in these countries. The so-called "wild asparagus" is grown on unique plantations.

We can also find hop crops in our country. However, these fields, with tall poles entwined with green plants and delicate "cones," are mainly intended for beer production.

However, wild hop grows almost everywhere. It can be found along rural roads, in urban thickets, on the edges of forests, near plots, and even in parks.

This year, harvesting is already a bit too late. The ideal time for collecting hop shoots is from the end of March to early May, although experienced collectors can find younger plant branches even in June.

The most expensive vegetable in the world. It grows everywhere

Hop shoots taste similar to asparagus. They are eagerly collected by those interested in healthy eating. Preparing this delicacy is very simple—just sauté them in butter and serve them like white or green asparagus.

The best, though demanding, harvest period is in March. That's when you need to dig them out of the ground as they sprout.

Hop cones, known mainly as a raw material used in brewing, have broader applications. In addition to imparting bitterness to beer, they possess many health properties.

Health properties

Hop cones contain lupulin, which has calming and soothing effects. Tea made from hop cones can help combat insomnia and anxiety. Lupulin also has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Use in medicine

In natural medicine, hop cones are used as a calming agent and to relieve stress and digestive problems. They can also be used to alleviate menstrual discomfort. Studies show that compounds found in hop cones may aid in fighting tooth decay and gum diseases.

Later, it becomes more accessible as green, fast-growing plants climbing fences, poles, and trees almost beg to be picked. Collecting a kilogram of this delicacy can take quite some time and requires patience.

Hop shoots have taste qualities as well as health-promoting properties. They contain compounds that can improve well-being, aid digestion, and enhance sleep quality.

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