How to dry lots of hops?

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How to dry lots of hops?

Postby mattg » Mon Jul 15, 2002 12:00 pm

I planted 5 crowns 2 years ago and this year I'm going to have a problem. Last year they really didn't produce many cones. However, I still had difficulty drying all the hops. I ended up with a trash bag full that yeilded about 1 1/2 pounds of dried hops. This year I'll easily have 5 times that. Anyone have any suggestions on drying five to six garbage cans of hops without building a giant oast?
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Drying Hops....

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Mon Jul 15, 2002 6:59 pm

The best advice I can offer is to place them 3' above a surface on window screens in a dark, warm, low humidity room. A fan supplying gentle circulation helps greatly.

Don't dry them in sun or bright light ! Doing so will cause photo chemical reactions to take place in the cones causing off flavors and "sun scorching" both of which render the hops undesirable.


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Higher capacity method?

Postby mattg » Thu Jul 18, 2002 10:10 am

Thanks Eric. Thats exactly what I did last year, but even using a patio screen door I still ended up with a pile several flowers deep. I was forced to "stir" them to rotate the moist, center cones to the outside. So, a lot of the magic yellow powder ended up on a sheet underneath the screens. It also took 3 days to get them to a uniform moisture content, With the expected harvest this year I don't have enough screens on the whole house. Would black plastic block enough light to let me put them outside in the sun? I think this should create enough heat to dry them quickly enough to allow me to do them in batches.(I don't think letting them sit for 3, 6, or, 9 days waiting to be dried is a good idea.)
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Black Plastic = Oxidization & Condensation/Dry in Clothes Dr

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Fri Jul 19, 2002 12:29 pm

NO ! Don't try that ! 2 reasons: 1) The heat produced by the black plastic covering will oxidize the cones and 2) the moisture being released from the cones will condense on the underside of the plastic and set the stage for mold formation in the center of the bracts of flowers.

The highest volume drying setup I have heard of that is doable by a home brewer is to use a clothes drier. If you are married or otherwise encumbered, I don't think this will be an option !!!! Here is how it works anyway:

1) Place the hops in 5 gallon paint straining bags.

2) Place the hop bags in canvas "muslin" bags.

3) Set the drier controls to the lowest heat setting, and the tumbler control to gentle.

4) Put the hops in the drier and tumble for 30 minutes and turn off the drier for 30 minutes.

5) Continue this cycle until the hops are suitably dry. My friend's run took about 8 hours.

This method is an adaptation of a commercial method of "drum drying" hops. In the commercial process, the drums rotate continuously while warm air is injected from the side. The problem with household driers is that even their lowest temperature setting is a bit too high. This is why you need to rest the hops every 30 minutes. The paint strainer bags keep the hops from colliding around too much and the muslin bag provides a surface that will let little particulate pass through and serves as a "wicking" media to facilitate moisture transfer out of the cones.

Good Luck !!!


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Plastic tent?

Postby mattg » Thu Jul 25, 2002 10:36 am

What I have in mind is a tent made of black plastic with a box fan for ventilation. I have read in a few sources that an attic works well due to the high temps (relatively) and low humidity. Couldn't I recreate this in a black poly plastic tent set in the sun? I considered using the dryer last year but my concern is that the tumbling action will knock too many of the lupulin glands loose. I would think that I could reach temps over 110 degrees in my tent on a sunny day in the mid-west. But, will damaging light (i.e. UVA-B, IR) penetrate the plastic? I appreciate your input Eric.
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