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!

1 comment:

comfrey cottages said...

oh how cool! i am sure going to save this post to refer to next year. i like the idea of tincturing it in rum and the valerian-hops-scotch is just a brilliant idea:) i found a wild hop vine and have some in a tincture now and also in a honey. i will let you know how that tastes when i strain it:) i saved some seeds and hoping to get at least one vine growing in my garden, or at my daughters, so we will have one more accessible!lol the wild one i have to tramp through some wild area carrying a ladder and a long pair of pruning shears. will keep in mind about growing on 6 foot strings;-) big herbal and honey hugs and thank you so much for sharing:)