Growing Hops is perfect if you enjoy home brewing and gardening.
Hops are the female flower cones of the Hops plant, a long climbing vine. If you are new to homebrewing and wondering when are Hops ready to harvest, you have come to the right place.
Hops are one of the primary ingredients added while brewing beer to preserve it and give it its unique, bitter flavor. If you have enough space, you can cultivate and harvest your Hops to give your homemade beer a more distinctive flavor.
You just need to know what’s the right time to pick those ripened Hops.
Thankfully, Hops harvest is an easy job. To learn when are Hops ready to harvest and what to do with them, continue reading.
When Are Hops Ready to Harvest?
When the summer ends, one of the first questions new gardeners have in their minds is whether their Hops are ready to harvest.
Although vines may appear full, rich, and loaded with hop cones, harvesting too early can result in losing out on much of these plants’ bitter and aromatic goodness. It’s a typical error, so keep in mind that they should remain a little longer on the vine than to be harvested too soon.
Fortunately, it’s rather simple to determine when your hop cones are ready.
Depending on your region, start checking around mid-to-late August through mid-to-late September. However, in exceptional circumstances, you might have a plant that asks to be harvested as early as July.
How to determine when to pick Hops:
- Get the hop cones squeezed.
- These cones are ready for harvesting if they are dry, feel papery, and instantly resume their original shape.
- It’s too early to harvest them if they still feel “green” and remain compressed briefly when you squeeze them.
- Take a sniff as you rub them in your hands.
- You can harvest them if they have a strong odor, resemble a combination of grass, pine, citrus, and onion, and possess a powdery yellow substance.
It’s that easy. Not all the cones will be ready at once. Just choose those that resemble the cone you tested.
When Is It Too Late to Harvest?
While waiting for cones to ripe, you might miss its ripening days.
You should check within two to three days, or it might get over-ripened.
The cones are past their peak ripening days when they are excessively brown and have a strong smell of onions or garlic.
If you spot browning, then it is okay to keep them. They won’t make your beer bad, but too many brown Hops can make your beer taste bad.
Although a little tedious, picking hop cones is a relatively simple process.
If you only have one plant, you can complete the task yourself. However, it can cost you an afternoon if you have more than one or two plants, so you might want to call a friend for help.
What you should do is:
- First, make sure you have long sleeves and gloves on.
Hops vines have sharp edges. Without even noticing it, you’ll cut yourself. They can also trigger flare-ups in people with certain types of dermatitis.
- Next, cut your vines down around three feet from the ground or remove them from your lines or trellis.
Letting first-year plants rest after harvesting helps them build their roots for the coming winter. Hop spread their roots quickly and widely.
- Pluck them up by hand, one at a time, then put them into a brown paper bag or basket.
- No, it’s not any trickier than that.
- Yes, it is tiresome.
- When you are finished, string your vine back up if you only lowered it rather than cutting it off.
Watch this video to find out more:
What to Do With Harvested Hops?
Be patient before putting your just harvested Hops in freezer bags and storing them for use in future brews.
You’ll get a terrible surprise when you utilize them if they aren’t prepared and kept properly.
Hops that have not been dried may decay in storage, turning “green,” smelly, and useless. Of course, you could add them directly to the brew to create a wet-hopped beer. When they are fresh, they are pretty delicious.
But you must first dry your Hops if you intend to keep them for later use.
You can apply any of the two techniques.
Spread your Hops out on a screen or other material that provides optimum airflow. Please put them in a warm, dry, and dark place that doesn’t get much light. Also, the area should have good airflow.
Consider covering them with black landscape fabric to block the sun if you place them by a window for airflow.
Your Hops should be spread out on a pan or baking sheet.
The oven temperature should be between 100- and 140-degrees Fahrenheit; don’t let it get over 140.
Let them sit with the oven lid open.
The procedure could take many hours. Every twenty minutes, check your Hops. It is prepared for storage when the core stem is brittle enough to split in half easily and the lupulin (yellow powder) easily separates from the leaves.
That’s all, folks!
Now that we’re concluding the article, you know when are Hops ready to harvest.
Picking some ripe Hops will be a fun activity to do with friends who assist you. You’re good to go as long as you know when to pluck the ripened Hops.
Just remember to properly dry the Hops and store them in airtight containers to preserve them for a long time. So, when the time comes to prepare the beer, it is right on aroma and taste.
Remember to take good care of your Hops and plan to harvest them when they ripen rather than wait until it is too late.