What a good year for the
And didn’t I get a lovely haul this year? Here they are all merry and bright, up the side of the house…and, yes, I know the house needs painting…a fact that certainly hasn’t escaped my wife.
The biggest problem this year was bloody snails. Why do they like hop leaves so much? I had to keep picking the pesky molluscs off and “relocating” them elsewhere…
I knew the hops were ready as they outer leafy bits had gone quite “papery” and some were starting to turn a little brown around the edges. They also smelt “right” when the cones were rubbed and crushed, I think I might have harvested a little early in previous years.
Hold your nerve people – pick at the right time!
And here they are all viciously hacked down and languishing on the kitchen table. There was a significant insect exodus from this pile over the course of the evening too:
It took two hours to pick that lot clean, and probably would have been even quicker had it not been for the odd one or two that had contracted powdery mildew – damn those damp late-September days.
The afflicted ones got binned and I made the resolution to only use these rest of the hops as late and flame-out additions – hopefully the heat in the brew kettle will kill off any trace of nastiness on the odd mildewy straggler.
After two hours I got a good boxful. I didn’t weight them as – to be quite honest – I don’t much care about the wet weight. We’re drying all of these babies, this year:
Not in possession of an oast house or even anything similar, I spread the lot out on a bed sheet (yes folks, you’ve now seen my bedding…) and set the dehumidifier on them:
There they sat for the next two days. Eve helpfully sorted through them from time-to-time and picked out the odd manky/mouldy/worm-eaten hop.
Two days later and we were looking good: the cones were mostly dry and any small stems were pliable to a point before they snapped cleanly. That’s supposed to signify the proper dryness…
All I had to do then was stuff some ziplock bags with 50 grams of hops each and bung the lot in the freezer.
Next year I might invest in a vacuum sealer – but that’s only if it looks like there’s going to be a bumper harvest…
Total haul: 380 grams of pretty fragrant and resinous Cascade cones….