I made my first batch of pickles last year after starting to can an unexpected abundance of late season produce from the garden. They were so good with store bought cucumbers that I had to add cukes to our garden this year. I knew that hop pickles were a thing and though I’d never had them, I knew I had to make some. I got an unexpected abundance of early season pickling cucumbers this year and made a ridiculous amount of pickles. Unfortunately, the cuke plant wore itself out before the hop harvest.
I thought my dream of making hop pickles was going to have to wait another year. Fortunately, Amy got a bunch of overgrown cucumbers from a co-worker and I picked a few hop cones early to make my plan come to life.
After looking at a bunch of recipes online, all of which included beer, I decided to wing it. I made a spicy beer pickle early in the Summer and they are the only batch I’ve been disappointed by this year. I’m not looking for beer pickles, I want hop pickles. So I decided to strip things down as much as possible.
I should warn now that this is not a fully fleshed out recipe, if you haven’t guessed by now. It is also not a canning or pickling how to. If you’ve never canned or pickled before, there are plenty of great resources online. My biggest recommendations, though are the book Food in Jars and the website Old World Garden Farms.
If you’re still reading this, here is how I made these pickles. I sliced the cucumbers, then I filled individual pint jars, one at a time because I wasn’t sure how many I’d need. I added three freshly picked Cascade hop cones, one clove of garlic, a quarter teaspoon of crushed red pepper and half a teaspoon of store bought pickling spice and then filled them with cukes.
When I ran out of cucumbers, I ended up with five pints, I measured out vinegar and pickling salt to fill them and mixed them together in a pot as I brought the mixture to a boil. I always use apple cider vinegar, but I guess you could say that malt vinegar would be more appropriate. Again, though, I wanted hop pickles, not beer pickles.
After the vinegar boiled, I filled the empty space in the jars with it. With all of the jars ready to go, I put them in my already boiling processing pot for half an hour, then pulled them out to sit overnight and cool. All five lids popped within a few minutes of coming out of the boiling water.
So how did the pickles turn out? I don’t know. I’m going to give them two weeks in the jar and then, yes, I will have hop pickle tasting notes. My extremely basic recipe is below.
In each pint jar: 3 Fresh Cascade Hop Flowers
1 Peeled and crushed Garlic Clove
1/2 tsp Pickling Spice
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
Fill with sliced Cucumber
Fill with boiled Vinegar and Pickling Salt brine
Process for 30 minutes in boiling water. Allow two weeks in jars before opening.