Friday, August 16, 2013

Harvesting and drying home grown hops - Hops in Florida

The first hop harvest is in!  Before getting too excited, it was a rather small crop (but some are still growing, I think).  And perhaps is just a well this way, as it gave me the chance to go through the motions of picking, drying and now storing them.

This site has featured several posts about these backyard hops (Search for Hops in Florida) as we've followed the growth of these hops here in Central Florida throughout this first growing season.  Back in the spring we purchased two rhyzomes to bury in the ground.  One was Centennial and the other Chinook.  While the Chinook started off slowly, it ended up the winner this year.  Centennial produced perhaps two cones a few weeks ago, and I pulled 13 off the Chinook the other day...with more small ones in formation still.  I know it's not a lot, but stay with me here.

Note: If you have dogs, take care not to let any hops get away or fall on the ground or get lost.  I haven't tested the theory but have heard that hops are lethal to dogs.  We have a small fence protecting the plants in the yard.

Let's look at some photos.  This first one shows the growth of the hops about a week before harvest

Warning:  I watched a You Tube video on drying the hops, and followed directions, and then did it.  Not quite sure that makes me an expert.  But I can tell you what I did and how it turned out, so far.

Here is the photo of the 13 cones pulled off the plant.

Exciting, huh?  Yep, that is 13 cones.  Let's see what they weigh.

Drying hops:  The You Tube video presented a great idea.  Get some air-conditioning filters and a small box fan.  You can layer the hops between filters, attach to the face of the fan with bungee cords, and then blow the air through the filters, drying out the hops inside.  Seemed easy enough.  We had a box fan around the house and a couple filters couldn't cost but $5 each or so... and theoretically we could still use them in the AC unit.  (If I had actually bought the right size, that is.)

Parts needed: Box fan, two (at least) AC filters, bungee cords
Lay the fan flat with the filter on top, and place hops on filter. The grooves work well here.
Place the second filter on top of the hops.  This will help keep them in place.

Attach bungee cords to keep the filters in place across the front of the fan.

Set up at an angle, to allow for air flow.  Turn on the fan and wait 24 hours.

Here are the 13 cones after drying.  Lost 2/3 of the original weight.
Overall, the process is quite simple.  It obviously worked too, with the weight difference as testimony.  From here, I wrapped them in some plastic wrap and then placed that into a zip lock bag.  Squeeze out most of the air and place in the freezer until ready for use.

This small amount is almost laughable.  .07oz won't add much to any recipe.  It did allow me to go through the process, which was worthwhile.  I could always rack the next batch to secondary and split it up, placing some in a single gallon carboy and dump these in for dry hopping.  It would give a change to taste and smell the flavor somewhat.

Credit where credit is due.  Here is that You Tube video for additional reference.

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