Sunday, October 11, 2009
An adventure with the Hops Vine
We have a very large hops vine (Humulus lupulus) that we grow to cover our little greenhouse and provide cool shade in the summer. If we don't keep up with pruning the hops it will climb up into our cedar tree and even out the electric wires toward the street. It comes up from the ground every year and can easily reach 100 feet in one growing season! Naturally the flowers are up at the top so it became an adventure to pull down the aggressive hops vine, save the cedar tree, and harvest the chartreuse strobile flowers.
Yanking down the hops, steadily and slowly. Commercial growers wisely grow hops on strings only about 6 feet tall or so for ease of harvesting.
Some of the gorgeous harvest. The fluffy cone flowers are used to make beer, to stuff sleep pillows or to be tinctured.
Medicinally, hops is used to aid with sleep. Dried hops are frequently used to stuff little pillows, along with the pleasantly fragrant herb lavender to help aid sleep. Mugwort can be added to this blend to help increase dreaming. Pictured here is some of the hops tincture. Hops has a potent aroma (some describe it as dirty socks....) so after some discussion thought it best to tincture the hops in a spicy rum. Clever intern Jessica also created an even stronger sedative tincture with hops and Valerian in Scotch whiskey. Which she is calling Valerian-Hops-Scotch!