Monday, October 17, 2011

Hop Question

Bubbaloo M. asks: Are hops good for anything else besides beer?...

Some people will eat the tender, young leaves either cooked or in a salad. I have tried this and, coming from someone who has eaten and enjoyed stinging nettle salad, I can tell you it's about as flavorful as any random green leaf you chewed on when you were 6.

I know that hops are used as an herbal medicinal. Hop tea is supposed to have a relaxing effect. The stuff is so bitter, though, that the amount of sugar I had to add to make it drinkable just left me wired.

Traditionally, sleeping on a pillow filled with hops was supposed to ensure sweet dreams. (Not sure about this one. Depending on your frame of mind, hops can smell like good beer or cat urine.)

Many people grow it decoratively. It grows so fast (a couple of inches a day in early summer) that it can provide significant shade by August. In the fall it dies back to the ground. You just cut it down and it starts all over again in the spring.

One of the major reasons hops caught on as an additive for beer, hundreds of years ago (before that most ale was flavored with a variety of herbs or tree resins) is that hops acts as a preservative. Not sure if anybody still uses it for this purpose.

I'm sure there's an internet article out there spelling out the "101 Household Uses for Hops."


Bubbaloo Magoo said...

Wow! Thanks for the answer - I figured you would reply, but a whole new post - that's awesome! I'll have to look into it more. Being on the other side of the country (NH), our growing season sounds a bit different, but it sounds like a fun plant. Thanks for the info! And I'm picking this up through AQ, just FYI... ;)

Anonymous said...

Hops can also be used to make yeast for breadmaking. I forget the exact proportions, but it's something like a pound of hops, boiled in a few cups of water, then strained. The water is left on the counter to ferment into yeast. You then feed the yeast sugar like you would a sourdough bread start. You can either keep the liquid yeast in a crock, or you can mix it with cornmeal and flour to make yeast cakes for storage up to six months. I've been wanting to try this for a long while, but I couldn't find hops locally, and the amount I would have to buy online made the price prohibitive. Now I'm living in a time-crunch until May. I'd still love to try it someday.


Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hi Lisa and Rob! I popped over to make sure you got the answer to your question.. such as it is... I answered you on my site but what I said was.... "Hi Lisa and Rob! Great question! Initially I thought "no" because I didn't think the beezwax would be stable enough.. but I found a couple references that say YES! But I have to say - I'm not very good at melting and straining the wax. Mine always seems to have extra bee parts in it or what not. But thanks for bringing this up!

btw. I saw your post about how someone poisoned a friend's hive!?! WOW. Here in ohio the local bee club was telling folks NOT to let anyone on their property to "inspect the hives." Turns out they were a bunch of impostors who destroyed the hives and then SET THEM ON FIRE. Can you believe it?


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