Here's a book I bought to help me understand drying hops.
Amazon: The Homebrewer's Garden: How to Easily Grow, Prepare, and Use Your Own Hops, Malts, Brewing Herbs
I also have a page of hop growing resources here...
plant hops in spring
pick hops late summer early fall
dry them someplace that is dark, hot, low in humidity and/or has good air movement
store hops in cool dry place away from light and air
use them as you would use store bought hops
Basic principles of drying hops
- hops are living flowers with leafy cones
- inside the leafy cones is the lupilin we want to flavor our beer
- the object is to remove the moisture from the leafy parts and preserve the volatile lupilin
- you can use hops green (wet hopping or fresh hopping)
- storing them green promotes spoilage (that's what I've read)
- you can expect a 6 to 1 weight ratio from green/wet/fresh hops to dried hops (at least that's what I've found) one pound (16 oz) of green hops = approx 2 oz of dried hops
- drying hops allows you to store them longer deterring spoilage
- heat, low humidity and air movement can help to dry hops
- heat promotes evaporation
- dry air promotes evaporation
- air movement promotes evaporation
- the volume of your crop will dictate how you dry, you might need to build an oast to handle larger crops
- exposure to air and light during storage will change the flavor of the hops
- find a place that has as many of the following qualities as possible (hot, low humidity, good air circulation)
- I use my basement where I have a dehumidifier. Usually 50% humidity or less.
- get some screens (like old window/door screens)
- lay the screens out on something that will raise them off the floor/surface ( I use shoeboxes)
- get a fan to circulate air
- spread the green undried hops on the screens, I try to keep it to one hop cone deep
- after 24 hours they should be pretty dry, I've kept them there for up to a week
- Test, by checking the brittleness of the stem on the inside. If it breaks more than bends, then they are dry enough.
I use a food saver vacuum sealer, because I have one. I'm not sure that it is necessary though.
- package up in one or two ounce packs
- freeze or refrigerate (I've done both)
- take them out when you're ready to use
- if you've dried them well, you should be able to use them in the same amounts as hops you've bought. Yes, that means that when substituting for pellets I use the same amount. 1 oz. pellets = 1 ounce homegrown
- The hop flavor tends to be cleaner and more pure. (subjective opinion ;-)
- They tend to soak up more wort/beer than pellets.
- hard to truly know their bittering potential, but, I try to use the guidelines from the place I bought the rhizomes from