Bonafide Farm

First hops harvest: Part two

August 28th, 2013 § 2

I took my hops in to the house and divided them up onto two baking sheets. My oven has a pretty convenient dehydrate feature, so I figured I’d give it a try. It basically just maintains the oven temperature at 120 degrees while running the convection fan.

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After I took this photo I slipped a couple of wire cooling racks under the cones to elevate them off the baking sheets. I figured it would improve air circulation and thus drying.

It took a couple of hours for the cones to get lighter and more crispy. During this time the house smelled so delicious.

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When I judged the hops dry enough, I packed them into quart zip-top bags and used the old straw trick to suck the air out around them. Then I tossed them in the freezer. I ended up with two quart bags of harvest.

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I also took a few of the hops and packed them in a glass jar with 100 proof vodka to make a tincture. Hops tincture is relaxing, soothing to the digestive system, sedative, and good for insomnia. I will let the mixture sit for six weeks and then strain out the hops and bottle the tincture. This is the first medicine I have made from home-grown material, and it feels pretty wonderful to be working with plants in this new way.

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And that concludes the 2013 hops harvest. When the frost kills back the top growth on the hops plants, I will cut it off to compost and mulch the roots well. Then next year I will restring the ropes and expect an even bigger harvest if all goes well.

I found hops to be relatively maintenance free. I didn’t give them any supplemental water, thanks to our abnormally wet summer, nor did I give them any extra fertilizer. Deer left them alone.┬áThe hops did attract stink bug nymphs during the last few weeks, but the insects didn’t appear to damage the plants or the cones. I’m going to go ahead and call the first year of hops experiment a success.

I don’t have plans yet for the frozen hops. They may make their way into tea, or maybe beer. We’ll see!

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