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Old 08-14-2012, 02:04 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by AgingHopster View Post
So far this thing works awesome for me and it's only $30.
What is it and where did you find it? That looks like an excellent way to dry them cones!


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Old 08-14-2012, 02:44 PM   #22
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would putting them in a paper bag work? I read in BYO that putting them in a paper bag was an option for drying hops.
No, this doesn't work. This gives you the perfect environment for composting, especially if you put it in a warm place.

The "Alton Brown" method of sandwiching between furnace filters and strapping to a box fan works, but isn't as effective as you might think. Its really made more for another material...something of a more "medicinal" quality.


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Old 08-14-2012, 03:04 PM   #23
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Take it or leave it, but this is the best way you can dry your hops. The key here is don't think of them as corn, fruit, or jerky. Think of them as flowers. You have picked a rose. You not only want to preserve the physical specimen (the lupulin glands in this case) but you want to keep as much of the oils and aromas as possible. Using heat will boil those oils and aromas away.

Step 1: Get a screen large enough to lay out all the cones 1 cone deep. Don't pile them up.

Step 2: Put the screen in an area that is shaded (UV light degrades oils and alphas) and as dry as possible. I know not everyone's SWMBO will give up the kitchen table or allow the smell of hops in the house, so the garage often is good enough.

Step 3: Make sure there is a way for the moisture to leave the area. If it is in the garage, leave a window open or crack the door. If you want, have a box fan gently blowing across them but have it above blowing down. If it is blowing from the underside, you may shake them up too much. As the dry, they lose weight and could float off the screen. There is no magic behind the big guys blowing air up through the beds...they just do it because they don't know any better.

Step 4: When they get close to being dry, you will notice the bracts (leaves) will start to open like a pine cone dropping its seeds. At this point, you need to do something to lower the relative humidity to finish the drying. If you were one of the big guys, you would heat the air up to 140F to drop the RH so you can get the moisture out. DON'T DO THIS. That's fine for Bud, but not for you.

You are going to take your screen and beg SWMBO to bring them in the air conditioned house. This will finish the drying process. If you can't do that, set up a tent, clear out a closet, build a plastic tent in the garage...whatever you can do...and place the hops and a dehumidifier in there. If it is adjustable, set the dehumidifier at about 40% RH and they will finish off in a few hours. The strig (stem) won't be brittle but it won't feel moist or be very pliable.

OK, why did I pick 40%? The following picture is an isotherm for hops:


The key here is that if you want your hops dried in the range of 8 to 10% moisture content, it can't be done unless it is exposed to air that is less than 50% to 60% relative humidity. In my driers, I finish them off in 30% RH or less air but there is a danger of overdrying. If you sit at 40%, which is about the best most dehumidifiers can do, you could over dry but it would take several days. They really don't start falling apart until 5.3% or so in my experience.

If you really want to speed it up, put them in the tent with the dehumidifier the entire time. As long as there is enough air flow, you could be done in 24 hours or less.

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Old 08-14-2012, 03:05 PM   #24
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Oh yeah, you are done drying when the final weight is between 1/4 and 1/5th the original weight of the cones. If you want, I can throw up the math but its posted elsewhere here.

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Old 08-14-2012, 03:13 PM   #25
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Someone above described the most effective method for hops drying which is known as an oast. Basically its a box w/ screens laid out horizontally. It uses a fan to push air through and out of the box with a few dimmer controlled light bulbs underneath for mild/moderate heat, effectively drying out the hops in much less time than air drying.





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Old 08-14-2012, 04:07 PM   #26
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"oast", "hop house", "hop kiln"...these are all just terms for a device that dries hops. Oast is a more traditional term from Kent. I hate "kiln" because it implies that heat must be used.

You certainly could build something. Would it speed up the process? Sure, especially if you are adding heat or dehumidification to reduce the relative humidity. Increased contact with air also speeds up the process. I'm all for that but why do you care how long it takes? Commercial growers care because we have only a limited amount of time we can spend drying before the next harvest comes in and I have to off load the dryer and load the next batch in. Your only limitation is how soon you need to put the screen door back on or when SWMBO's patience is reached because she's tired of seeing/smelling the hops. If you can spare the time, a simple screen is easier, cheaper and just as or even more effective at preserving the oils and aroma's you so terribly desire.

If you guys really want, I can share some of the prototype designs we have put together. The smallest though dries a 1/6 acre...the one I finished last night does about a 1/2 acre at a pop. The key to all of them is I never add heat, only use dehumidification. And at that, I do so sparingly because outside air can do so much for me if I just give it enough air flow.

Whoops, I did add heat last year. We were still harvesting in October and I was afraid the hops were going to freeze in the oast. But that was only to warm them up to 60F.

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Old 08-14-2012, 04:13 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by beerthirty View Post
I wish I lived in a hop growing area to try another method that I've been thinking of. The principle works on the fact that water boils(evaporates) at lower temps when placed in a vacuum. Place the hops in an air tight container and hook a vacuum pump to it. In theory you could put the container in the freezer to maintain low temps and the vacuum would remove the moisture very quickly. I would use a vacuum pump that is made for sucking down an AC system prior to refill. These produce about 30" of vacuum and can dry out an AC system in about 30-45 min.
Just a comment on this method as well...we call that vacuum cooling and its used on produce (lettuce, veggies) to rapidly cool them but the side effect is that it pulls out moisture. Its very close in concept to freeze drying.

Here's the problem, when you drop the pressure, it lowers the boiling point of water (good) so you can dry them but it also lowers the flash point of the oils and aromas (bad). I haven't calculated it out, but you end up loosing about the same amount as if you baked them.

You are better off freeze drying them. Freeze them as quickly as you can and then keep them frozen while pulling a vacuum. This will remove the water while still locking in the oils and aromas. Commercially, this isn't economically viable but when you are growing your own you aren't thinking $$'s. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm pretty sure it would work.


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