I never know where recipe inspiration will strike.
For me, it’s one of those things that just has to happen organically. I can stare at a pantry full of food or a fresh CSA box full of veggies and have absolutely no inspiration. And, if I have no inspiration, I can’t force myself to come up with something. We eat a lot of simple sautéed veggies for that reason.
Sometimes, though, I’ll take a look at something, and my mind will be spinning with dozens of different recipes that I can’t wait to try. This past weekend, that happened while we were helping a good friend pick hops.
Yup, you heard me right. Our friend, Andy, has decided to grow his own hops. This is his third growing season, and each year his harvest has gotten bigger and better. This year, he had so many hops that it was more than a one man job. So, he decided to have a pick-your-own hops day. While my hubby and I don’t do any home brewing, we decided to join in the fun.
When I arrived, I assumed my level of participation would simply be keeping the kiddo under control and taking a few photos. While I did both of those things, I found that I was getting drawn into the whole hops operation. Something about it all just fascinated me. And, I was particularly intrigued by the aroma of the teamaker variety that Andy was growing. I knew that I had to pick some of my own… And, I had to bring them home and play around with them in the kitchen.
I’m not much of a beer drinker, but the teamaker hops had an interesting smell to them that seemed like it would add a very interesting layer of flavor to some non-beer drinks. As I smelled them, I instantly thought they would pair well with some citrus. And, since they are called TEAmaker, I figured they would also pair well with some tea. Why not, right? Considering the guys picked over 16 pounds of hops, they could spare a few for a little recipe testing.
So, for my first hops recipe, I kept it simple… Simple syrup, that is. I made a lemony simple syrup that was infused with the teamaker hops and black tea. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised. The hops add a nice bitterness to the syrup, without being overpowering. That was my initial concern. The lemon and tea add a refreshing flavor. I mixed the syrup with a bit of sparkling water for a simple and refreshing (non-alcoholic) drink. Of course, I think it would lend itself well to some cocktails, too. I’m planning on giving that a try later this weekend.
And, as you may have guessed, I’m still brimming with ideas for the hops… In fact, I may have to go pick some more. You’ll likely see a few more recipes popping up here soon.
In the meantime, I’d love to know… Have you ever played around with hops? I think they’re just fascinating, and I’d love to hear what you’ve made!
Lemon Simple Syrup Infused with Hops and Earl Grey Tea
Makes a generous ¾ cup
For this recipe, I used dried hops. I started with fresh hops (right off the vines) and dried them on a baking sheet for about 36 hours. Don’t have a friend who is growing hops in his backyard? No problem… Check out your local home brewing store (yes, I’m told they exist…) or order some online (yup… you’ll find them on Amazon.com).
I also opted to use raspberry earl grey tea since that’s what I had on hand. I am confident, though, that plain earl grey tea would work just as well. Just like cooking with wine, I recommend using a tea that you like to drink!
- 1 cup raw sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup (approx. ⅓ oz) dried teamaker hops
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 2 earl grey tea bags (raspberry or plain)
- Zest from 1 lemon
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Strain out all of the solids and transfer the syrup to an airtight bottle or jar. Store in the refrigerator for a week or two.
Sparkling Lemon Hops Tea
For a refreshing drink, simply mix 1 cup of sparkling water with 1 – 2 tablespoons of syrup (depending how sweet/strong you like your drinks). Serve over ice.
Please Note – The link to the dried hops in this post is an Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale price, which helps to keep My Kitchen Addiction up and running. Thanks!