Yesterday afternoon was hop harvest day. Early to mid-September seems to be about the right time of year for harvesting in Western New York, and amazingly we found a free weekend with cooperating weather to do just that. What you are looking for when determining if it’s harvest time, is for the hop flowers to just start opening up but before they turn brown and start wilting. Although we planted 16 new hop plants this year, they didn’t get in the ground until late and they didn’t produce much. However we still had good production from our Cascade plant, about a bushels worth. We also found a bunch of wild hop plants, so we decided heck with it and harvested those too. We aren’t sure what variety they are, or if they’ll be any good, but a little bit of experimentation with a wild hopped ale sounds fun.
So once the hops are picked they need to be dried. Last year we used a commercial dehydrator, and the heat wilted them out a little too much we thought. So this year we had the bright idea to try and build our own, heatless, dehydrator using a box fan, furnace filters, and bungee cords. The idea is to sandwich the hops between the furnace filters and then strap them to the box fan such that we push air through the filters and dry out the hops. We also made sure to keep a layer of paper towels between the hops and filters.
We expect this drying process to take about 24 hours. If it works well the plan is to build a second one so that we can dry all the hops we picked more efficiently.
Let us know how you dry your hops, we’d love to hear your ideas, Cheers!