Now that you are sure your hops are all grown and it is time for harvest, how do you harvest them? You can harvest by hand (also known as in-place) or cut on the bine and harvest the cones. Harvesting in place is ideal for first-year crops. Not cutting the bine allows nutrients to flow into the young root.
When harvesting, ensure you wear long sleeves. Hop plants have little hooked hair, which can irritate. Also, if you are sensitive, you can wear goggles for additional safety.
After harvesting and picking your hops, their freshness is on the line. Every little aspect such as light, time, moisture, and heat has a vital role in the overall quality of hops you produce. Therefore, the faster you dry, bag them, and put them in cold storage, the better.
Harvested hops have around 75-85% moisture, most of which needs to be removed to prevent spoilage. There are three methods you can use for drying:
- Air drying
- Conventional oven
- Food dehydrator
While air drying is the least destructive, there is a time factor to consider. Drying using an oven is highly discouraged since it exposes the hops to extreme temperatures, scorching them. A dehydrator is a suitable option, but the hops will lose its aroma since it is exposed to high heat.