Those who need to learn how to harvest hops should consider two factors. Knowing the method and timing is crucial to get the most of your harvest, so read this article now. After all, growing hops for profit depends on how you can guarantee quality harvest consistently.
It’s not surprising that many growers are interested in hops production, but you must be prepared not just for the initial steps. It would be best if you also were informed on the final stage, which is harvesting. Having excellent quality and yield can be dictated by this final step.
Read This Before Harvesting Hops
Consideration #1. Method
The first factor to consider when harvesting hops is knowing the proper technique itself. This way, you can ensure that you won’t damage the quality of your harvest. You have the option to pick their cones as the plant matures or harvest in one go.
The former method is the most common because it will let you extend the harvest season. Therefore, you will have a higher yield of hops. However, remember that hops can reach a good height, making it impossible to pick the cones anyway.
To solve this drawback, some growers cut the whole vine at three feet above the ground instead. You can harvest all the cones at ground level by pulling the vine down, making the practice much more comfortable and quick. And once you finished harvesting, you must immediately dry the hops flower somewhere dark and ventilated or in the oven before storing it in the freezer inside a sealable bag.
Consideration #2. Timing
Since hops are the main ingredient for manufacturing beer, timing is crucial to ensure that your harvest will provide the unique bitterness that hops provide. This way, you won’t have to worry when using hops either as fresh or dry since they are at optimal quality. More than waiting for the flowers to feel paper-like, here are some things worth noting.
Remember that after planting hops rhizomes early in spring, they will develop vines in summer to provide you flower cones. When the flowers appear, please don’t get excited about harvesting them yet. Instead, it would help if you let them dry out on the vine then test by feeling them.
Growers simply squeeze a cone with their fingers but remember to do this gently. The cone should feel springy with some sap coming out of it to signify that it’s the ideal time to harvest your hops. On the other hand, squishy and damp cones should take more time before you harvest them.
Growing Hops Successfully
According to the University of Kentucky, you want to ensure the ideal growing location for hops. Remember that more than the harvesting, the area where you’re growing hops and the practices you’ll do are also crucial to harvest quality yield consistently. For example, you want to protect the crops amidst challenging weather such as heavy winds and rain.
You can grow hops in the greenhouse instead to providing protection and their needs, such as light and proper air circulation consistently. It’s also easier to set a trellis system indoors without worrying about its stability and quality in the long run. And more so, you can keep the greenhouse safe from pests that can damage hops.
Drying And Packaging Hops
As mentioned previously, you have the option of using the hops immediately into a brew after harvesting or dry them. However, you have to remember the importance of time, light, heat, and moisture with the latter. It’s better to dry hops for a maximum of three days under temperatures not exceeding 140°F to avoid affecting their quality.
Then, you can use a window screen, oven, or food dehydrator to dry the hops. More so, you’re aiming to achieve an 8% moisture by weight on your hops to prevent mold growth. After you have checked all these factors, place the hops somewhere airtight and then into the freezer until brewing.
When To Add Hops To Brew
The best time to add hops is after the mashing or when the grain turns to wort, and you’re about to boil your product. This timing is vital because boiling will create a hops process that should provide bitterness to the mix. With this in mind, the longer your boil hops, the more bitter your beer gets.
If you want to enhance the beer’s flavor, you want to reduce hops’ boiling time. Instead of simmering for around 45 minutes, let them boil for 15 minutes later in the process instead. You can even do dry hopping or soaking the hops in the fermented mix after it cooled down.
Hops are one of the best crops to consider growing because of its importance to the breweries. However, it’s not enough that you know how to grow and store them; you must also master how to harvest hops correctly to ensure that you’re getting the most of your yield. Start by choosing how you want to collect the flowers, whether by picking them as the plant continues to grow or by cutting the vine and harvesting all at once.
Once you find the convenient technique, know how to check when your cones are ready for harvest. Gently squeeze them by hand to check for a springy texture as a go signal. Finally, you can use the hops readily or dry them in three days for brewing later on.