Years ago when my family travelled to Belgium we were served hop shoots which were only available for a brief period in the springtime. Ever since then my mother has looked for them without luck. From time to time I have also inquired on her behalf and have mostly been met with confused looks. Until last year. The recent explosion of tiny neighborhood breweries in Denver (and surrounding) has also spurred the business of growing hops. Much to my surprise there is a hops farm only about 15 minutes from our workshop that supplies the hops to one of our neighborhood breweries. When I wrote Voss Farms asking about the hop shoots, the owner not only invited me to come get some, but gave me three bags of different varieties in addition to several plants I could grow myself. The typical recipe we had in Brussels involved poaching the shoots which were then served with hollandaise and a fried egg. I aim to make that next, but in the meantime pickled a bunch of them for some salmon burgers we were cooking. Obviously hop shoots are not something available to everyone, but this pickling liquid would be equally good on bean sprouts (similar shape and texture), asparagus or beans. It has a nice kick and the beer, fennel seed, mustard seed and garlic provide a really nice flavor. I made just this small batch and did not bother actually canning them as I knew we'd eat them in good time. —savorthis
Simmer all ingredients except hops in a large pot until sugar and salt have dissolved. Add hop shoots and simmer about 5 minutes. Allow to cool in liquid, then put shoots and liquid into a large jar with a tight lid and keep in the refrigerator. Can be eaten a couple hours later, but will get better over time.