Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Harvesting the Hops

Those are hop vines growing up the side of our barn.  Hops are the little cone-like flowers produced by the female plants and they have been a traditional flavoring in beer since the eleventh century.

Nearby Asheville has become known for its micro-breweries and now some area farmers are growing hops to supply them.. Our friend Cory is a micro-micro- micro-brewer -- aka a home brewer -- and he thought he'd like to try his hand at growing his own hops. 

Since, however, he and his wife Kasie live in an apartment in Asheville, they have made use of bits of Justin's garden and our nice tall barn for this endeavor.
The strings the vines grow on can be lowered to make harvest easier.
Another traditional use for hops was as a sleeping aid. Using a small pillow filled with dried hops is said to produce drowsiness.

I haven't tried this as drowsiness comes all to naturally to me at the end of the day. Have any of you ever used a hops pillow?
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21 comments:

Ms. A said...

Can't say I've ever used a hops pillow. Sounds like it wouldn't be all that comfy, either.

Someone called me wanting to use my land for farm training for high school students. Have you heard of this?

Desiree said...

No, I had not even heard of a hops pillow before this very interesting post, Vicki! My Dad used to brew his own beer many years ago when they were still living in SA and I can still recall the smell that used to pervade my Mother's kitchen when he was cooking up his brew! Micro breweries have also become popular here in recent years and my husband recently enjoyed a particularly good beer from a micro brewery in Darling, a little village famous for its annual wild flower show, orchid nursery and one of our national icons, actor, author and satirist, Pieter Dirk Uys. I love your barn adorned with its hops garden! Lovely post, thank you!

Victoria said...

I have trouble sleeping, so a few years ago a friend gave me a little hops pillow to tuck in my pillow. It did make me drowsy; unfortunately, I still didn't sleep because it made me sneeze so much. Ah, well...

Martin said...

I've heard that a hop pillow is good for insomnia, as is lavender oil.

Home brew, now you're talking! We used to make gallons of the stuff, but it was a little too drinkable.

Reader Wil said...

A hops pillow is a good idea to have for many of my elderly relatives and myself. I wonder if they are available here in my country This is an interesting post, Vicki! Have a great Wednesday!

Marilyn said...

I have never heard of a hop pillow; many people do believe that a hop flavoured drink will ease them into sleep though.

Alan Burnett said...

You are right - hops can induce a state of drowsiness. Well that is what happens every time I imbibe a few too hops (in solution) at any rate.

Pat in east TN said...

I've never heard of a hops pillow, and actually I never knew how, or where, hope grew. I found your post quite interesting, and now I can say I've learned something new today!

Thérèse said...

Your post is a learning post for me today. Never knew how hop looked like or how it was growing. Very interesting.

Brian Miller said...

i have not heard of a hops pillow but considering the effect of beer it would not surprise me...cool to get back to our connection with the food we inhale though...

Mama-Bug said...

How interesting; I learned something new this morning!

Deanna said...

I've never used a hops pillow but wish I had had one to try out last night ;)

The string method is ingenious.

There are quite a few micro breweries in the touristy towns in this area. I can't say that I am at all fond of the beers they produce.

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

I had a thought, but every man who commented had the same one! Hmmm... Jim

NCmountainwoman said...

I had never before seen a photograph of hops. Very interesting post.

JJM said...

How much more pleasant hops picking is under such circumstances. I'm afraid the first thing that comes to my mind when I read about hops is Jack London's People of the Abyss, specifically the chapter "Hops and Hoppers". It's online, in case anyone's interested:

http://www.jacklondons.net/writings/PeopleOfTheAbyss/chapter14.html

(Abyss is an amazin' book. London disguised himself as a down-and-out sailor at the turn of the last century to see first-hand how the "other half" lived. He got an eyeful. The one flaw, of course, is that he remained an outsider; he knew he could, by simply changing into his old clothes, resume his old life at any time, and he had sewn a gold sovereign (a coin worth one pound, or 20 shillings) into his clothing for emergencies. He was not trapped, as his subjects were.--Mario

jennyfreckles said...

So that's what hops look like. Reminds me of the old joke about the man who saw something floating in his beer. The barman, when consulted, said it was a hop, so the man said "Well, it had better hop out then!"

Merisi said...

Such ingenuity, love how the hops were trained along the barn and how the strings can be lowered at harvest time!

GrandmaK said...

I'd not heard of the "hops pillow" before, but just like you I have no difficulty in getting drowsy! What a neat barn you have!!! Wishing you well! Cathy

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Vicki -- Used to grow hops at my previous home. I too gathered them for a home brewer. I think they make lovely plants even on shorter supports -- I grew the short support way. -- barbara

Vagabonde said...

We have been back home a few days so I can read back through all your 30 new posts. I still have our Whole Earth catalogs – I spent so many hours reading them – there was so much information in them.

I’ll copy your recipe to make cheese from milk – but I’ll use goat milk as I am a goat cheese fanatic – I bet it will be good. I think why I still like to travel so much is because I read blogs like yours – your show beautiful sunrises on the mountains, and I go and tell my husband we need to go to North Carolina. I just finished looking at a blog from New York State and told him we needed to go there and so on and so forth – there are so many lovely places on our planet.

I’ll place The Stranger You Seek on my list of books to read – I trust your judgment. About Janisse Ray and her book Pinhook – I’ll have to get it for my husband. My husband’s career was in the environment field - he worked with Janisse Ray on a project once. I met her – a charming lady.

I admire you for being frank about the aftermath of 9/11. I have tried several times to talk about it, at work and with family or friends, but they say that being French my views are distorted and I talk negatively about America, so I try not to talk about it. I read Chris Hedges article – it is powerful, but will not be read by those who need to read it – which is the silent majority listening to Faux News.

Since I went to Seattle to a micro-brewery fest I like IPA – India Pale Ale - so nice to drink on a warm day.

Anonymous said...

Great information :) I didn't know about the hops... :)
Thanks for sharing
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