1.6 pounds of Cascade hop cones drying on a screen.

    Cascade Hop Cones Drying

    I harvested the Cascade and Magnum hops this weekend. Looks like I waited too long. I didn’t have time to harvest last weekend (and they were rain soaked at the time). The Cascade’s were mostly mature. Half of the Magnum hop cones were turning brown. That’s the thing about harvesting hops, there is a relatively short window to catch them at their prime.

    I haven’t brewed in about 20 years. I grow hops as a hobby and give them to my home brewing friends (I get homebrew in return!). When I was brewing, there were only lagers and Guinness available in the liquor stores (Minnesota thing, I realize other states have beer stores and some states you can buy in the grocery stores). Now there are so many choices and they are better than most of my brews (although mine were tasty).

    My homebrewing friends and I used to bottle in 2 liter plastic bottles and bring to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota/Canada(BWCA). Portaging a 100 pound pack of beer/ales was tough but tasted so good once you made your destination. Plastic is mandatory as no glass allowed and you had to burn your garbage.

    Lowered bines of the Cascade hops picked clean.

    Cascade Bines Harvested

    Harvesting Hops

    Back to harvesting hops. I picked approximately 1.6 pounds of Cascade hop cones. I only picked half a pound of Magnum hops as many were totally brown. I have them drying under a ceiling fan in my air conditioned basement. It only takes 2 to 3 days and they are completely dry. Then I will tightly pack them in gallon sized ziplock bags, squeeze the air out and seal them. I put them in the freezer until I have a brewing friend that is ready to take them.

    I got stung by a bee while harvesting this time. Bees were constantly buzzing around but left me alone for the most part. One stung my toe through the opening in my sandals. After I had the Magnum bines lowered, I saw the hive in the peak of my garage – the Magnums are mounted in the peak using a pulley. Not sure if the bine movement pissed them off or not. First time in 9 years of growing hops I got stung. Would have really sucked if I used a ladder to harvest, I would have probably gotten stung a bunch more times as the top of the bines were inches from the hive.

    Pulley System

    As you can see in the picture, I have the bines on a pulley system so I can harvest from the ground.  After picking the bines clean, I re-raise the hop bines to continue to gather energy for the next season.  Many people cut them off at havest, I wait until a hard frost kills them, then I cut them about an inch above ground.

    Hopefully I will be able to harvest the Nugget hops next weekend. I will keep you posted.



    Categories : 9th Year Hops
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