Can You Eat Raw Hops?

Beer lovers can get their fix from more than just a pint, says Gardening Know How. The flowers that contribute to the bold flavors of brew are called hops, and they're for more than just catching a buzz. Hops are the fragrant vine flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant which has been utilized for its bitter zest in brewed beverages for ages. To release the unique flavor, hops are added to the mix right before boiling. But what if you want to pop a handful of raw hops right into your mouth as a snack? Hops connoisseurs say you can. 

For the die-hard beer fanatics that just can't seem to get enough, hops can be tossed right in your salad. Bear in mind, however, that raw hops aren't everyone's cup of tea. If you can handle the bitter taste of fresh hops, Learning to Homebrew suggests punching up a soup or stew with some hop petals as you would a bay leaf. A little bit goes a long way, so just be careful not to overpower the whole pot. Hops can also kick up a simple dish as seasoning if chopped fine and scattered atop. Any meal that is begging for a sharp element will welcome hops with open arms.

Even beer devotees may not enjoy the tartness of fresh hops

As the brewing process suggests, it's the heat that releases the bitterness of hops, and the longer it boils, the more of that flavor is released. If your recipe isn't seeking that much bitterness, then cooking the hops will mellow it out, confirms Gardening Know How. Just as different beers can have vastly different tastes, the hops that make them can differ, too. Various varieties of hops can offer flavors from mint to bright florals. To avoid an overly bitter dish, take a note from brewers and add the hops near the end of the cooking time so the flower isn't able to release too much acerbity and ruin your fare. 

The craft beer craze that began storming cities across the U.S. around 2006 or so opened the doors to a variety of new flavors, colors, and methods of brewing beer. The popularity has been growing rapidly since, with 2016 being the best year in all of American history for jobs within the beer industry, said The Atlantic in 2018. Not to mention homebrew became a popular word among beer buffs when companies popped up offering easy DIY kits for brewing ale at home. We can likely thank this uptick in beer production for inspiring many to do the work for us and experiment with hops outside of the brewery.