With a Latin name as fun as Humulus lupulus, why not use hops to make some unique confections? Many years ago, a customer sent us a bag of homemade hop flavored hard candies. Much to our surprise, they were really delicious! The combination of floral, bitter, and sweet sang together in a very pleasant way, and soon many of us were unwrapping and enjoying them throughout the day.
We love hops here in the Pacific Northwest, especially as beer connoisseurs in search of the perfect IPA, but the medicinal properties make this herb valuable to herbalists as well. A classic calming herb used to encourage relaxation and sleep with a hypnotic quality, its effect can be felt after sipping tea, drinking a pint of beer, or taking some tincture. The bitterness is also helpful for stimulating digestion and appetite.
These two recipes were inspired by a visit to our beautiful organic hop farm (you can read about that here), but feel free to replace the hops with any other herb. Rose, chamomile, ginger, elderberry, hibiscus, lavender, chai, herbal teas, and maybe even damiana would all be interesting choices!
Hop Rock Candy
This is a great opportunity to infuse a little science project with herbs! It's fascinating to watch the sugar crystals grow each day. You can eat the candy right off the skewers or use them as sweetener swizzle sticks in your hot tea.
1 cup organic dried hops (or any other herb of your choice)
2 cups water
3 cups organic white sugar
4 tall half pint glass jars
1. Bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of dried hops just to a boil and stir. Remove from heat and strain into a container.
2. Measure out 1.5 cups of the hop tea and pour back into the pot with 3 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Stir until the sugar is totally dissolved and clear. You want the sugar solution to boil, but not cook too long.
3. Dip your skewers into the sugar solution and then roll them in white sugar just to seed the crystals. Allow them to dry completely.
4. Cool the sugar solution to about 60 degrees. Next, fill your jars almost to the top with sugar solution and insert your skewers.
5. Pierce a piece of parchment paper and slide it down the top of the skewer until it rests on the lip of the jar to keep debris out. Clip a clothespin onto the skewer horizontally above the parchment paper to rest on the jar and suspend the skewer in the middle. Be sure to leave several inches of space between the skewer and the bottom of the jar, as well as the sides of the jar, for the crystals to form.
6. Allow to sit undisturbed at room temperature for 3-7 days as the crystals grow. Remove the skewers and enjoy!
Hop Limeade Shave Ice
This is a wonderfully refreshing alternative to beer on a hot summer day. I know lime and hops might sound like a strange mix, but it's delicious! Just think about how satisfying a little squeeze of lime in an ice cold beer can be. Plus, you can easily booze up this recipe with a shot of tequila or rum.
2 cups organic sugar
1/2 cup organic hop tea
1/3 cup fresh squeezed organic lime juice
zest of 3 organic limes
Prepare an infusion of hops to make 1/2 cup of tea. Combine the sugar, hop tea, lime juice, and lime zest in a small saucepan. Heat over medium and gently simmer, stirring well until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Pour into a clean glass jar and refrigerate. Stir the syrup well and then drizzle over a bowl of shaved ice to enjoy.