It was that time of year again yesterday. The time of year, when I am about 3 weeks late for optimal hop harvesting. Since I did’t have any immediate takers for my nugget hops (floral, used in pale ales) this year I wasn‘t too concerned about the late harvest. I only cut off the bunches that had green springy feeling hops.
I still had a fair amount of green hops left, though as you can see from the picture in my hand there were some that had already turned brown and opened up.
Since the harvest was smaller this year, I decided to try a less labor intensive way to dry the hops. In the past I have set up multiple bread racks with a layer of hops on each rack, but this year I just made a sack out of the netting and tied it to the fan. Every 8 hours or so I rotate the sack and gently mix the hops. After the first 10 hours they were considerable lighter in weight.
As I was separating the hops from the vines and leaves, I made two piles, one for the good looking green hops and one for the hops that had turned yellow or were partly brown. Hence the two bags hanging from my fan. Once the hops are dried I will freeze them all to preserve their intensity, but I might try to use the yellow ones to make a hop scented soap.
I planted my hops in the early spring of 2011 – two Nugget rhizomes (alpha 11-14%) and two Fuggle (alpha 4-5.5%) rhizomes from The Thyme Garden, in OR. Both hop types emerged when the ground was consistently warm and grew a few feet that first summer, but the Fuggle bines were not as thick or long as the Nugget. Neither produced hops that first year. The Fuggles didn’t make it past the first winter, but the Nuggets produced a small batch of hops the second year (which I did not harvest) and have been thriving with beautiful leaves the size of my head ever since.