Saturday, July 12, 2008

Harvesting Home Grown Hops for Home Brewing (Video Included!)

I finally had a chance to pull my first harvest of hops from my Cascades last night. Here are some pics and some info on Harvesting hops for everyone to enjoy.
As you can see, these are the hops that are being harvested. Click on any image for a larger view. Here's a Video on Harvesting hops, too: Hop harvesting Video

I was about 15 feet up, so I didn't steady the camera too well, that's why it's fuzzy. But you can see all the hop debris waiting to be harvested. There is a lot there. What I usually do is snip the lateral that is holding all the hops. That's why you see a lot of leaves down there. It's a lot easier than snipping or harvesting individually.

And here you have the final result. There are a lot of hops there. I'd estimate at least 1/2 lb, if not 1 lb. I'm really excited about them. And don't forget to smell your hands! Boy were they delicious smelling! (Yeah, don't get any funny ideas!)

Here I have them laid out on a screen that I made. You want to keep them up off the ground so

they get better air circulation. I also have a fan on low. Each day I'll take some time to carefully move them around. As they dry out, it becomes a lot easier for the lupilin glands to fall out of the hops. You want to be really careful when handling them in order to preserve as much as possible.

Now, with this pic I wanted to show what mature hops look like as opposed to immature hops. The ones on the left are mature and you can tell because they are a darker green and have some lighter (dry-like) colors in them. The ones on the right are more of a bright green. Those are not ready to be harvested. You also want to pinch them to check for maturity. If they spring back and have a paper-like consistence then they are ready to be harvested. If they compress and stay compressed, and usually you can feel the moisture in them, then they need to grow some more.

This is a pretty big hop. I was impressed with
how many large hops like this one I harvested. I'm really excited. That one is about 3 inches long. That's the longest I've ever had with a harvest. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the cascade hops are 6 years old now and fully mature.

And here is a final pic of why it's worth the effort to harvest and grow your own hops! Yummy, doesn't that look delicious? And the best part is that it was a nice hoppy pale ale that I made and it tasted so damned good after the time spent harvesting.

I hope this helps out a little when it comes time to harvest your hops. If you have any questions please feel free to comment. Thanks!