Big first harvest, now we dry the hops

Monday, September 01, 2008

Big first harvest, now we dry the hops

About half of the hops are ready to go, so now I get to pick and dry them so that I can see how much I'm going to yield. As anyone that has been into drying herbs or anything knows that I'm going to lose 70-80% of the weight of my harvest as the hops dry so keep that in mind when you see the pictures.

This is just a gratuitous hops shot that I thought all the hop heads would enjoy.

After doing some reading, I discovered that there are two basic concepts in drying hops. One is heat based and the other is airflow based. When push comes to shove, it's up to you beyond that. the things to be sure to avoid are situations where your hops are going to be sealed up while still moist as this will lead to everything from off smells to mold. You also want to keep an eye on them because you don't want to over dry them so that they are too brittle to use.

With all that said, it's drying stuff so don't get too worked up about how you do this. Just keep an eye on them and you'll do fine.

As you can see from these pictures, I used the airflow based method where you ensure that there is a steady flow of air going over the hops to remove the moisture. To do this, you are going to need to have the hops in a warm place.

I took a screen out of one of my windows (ghetto?) and placed it over a plastic bin. I have a small fan in the bottom that is face down turned on. My thought here was that the fan air is pretty intense so by facing it down the airflow will be broken up by bouncing off the bottom before flowing over the hops. I also placed another bin over this one to keep anything from landing on the hops from in the air, but it's not a huge ordeal of you left them open.

As you can see, I spread them out so that there were no hops on top of one another and let them be for a few days. They were done within five days and I put them in zip lock bags to store them in the freezer. My total yield for this first picking was 2 ounces so I am a little disappointed, but I sill have another harvest that is about half as much as that so I should wind up with three to three and a half ounces of hops. I was thinking of using all my homegrown hops in a batch with some organic malt and call it hippy juice or something.

One quick note is that with my second set up hops I am going to try and dry them on the vine. I have heard of doing this with other plants and I thought it might work with hops too.



Adam said...

I'll be ours are ready to pick soon too :-) Hippy juice eh?

I brewed a beer in June using only homegrown Cascade from last years harvest and it turned out pretty darn good!

I usually vacume seal and refrigerate mine. They kept very well and didn't loose their potency. From what I can tell anyway.


Ted Danyluk said...

Looks great!

Brew Dude John said...

Some of the most beautiful photos of hops I have ever seen.