Originally Posted by eriehopexperiment
I recently dried my hops which started off at 13# and ended up just shy of 5# (roughly 38% weight retention). I'm not sure if they could be any dryer! Remember that information found on these pages are only guidelines.
Sure, there can be a bit of variance in the moisture content at harvest. I've seen anywhere from 72% up to 86%. As the cone ripens, its moisture content increases. As it goes past ripe, it doesn't drop that much, at least not until it goes into the garbage stage. This is a biological fact.
When you are dying down to 1/4 to 1/5 the original weight, its because you are trying to get that moisture content below 20%, preferably down to the 10% to 12% range. Why? First, so it won't oxidize/rot in storage. Second, so the moisture content is the same as commercial pellets thus allowing you to use them in you recipes without a lot of recalculating.
Let's assume you had dropped all the way to 73% moisture content at the time of harvest. To get those cones down to a 10% moisture content, they would need to weigh 3.9 lbs. At 4.95 lbs., you are right around 29% moisture content. Your shelf life is significantly reduced and your going to have to adjust your hop addition to account for that extra weight.
Do yourself a favor, pull out about 1/4 gallon (1 liter) of hops and weigh them on a balance that goes to at least 2 decimal points for grams. I predict it will weigh around 25 to 28 grams. Put that sample on a paper plate or a microwave safe dish and shove it in the microwave for a minute. Put it on the scale, let the moisture dissipate, watch the weight drop and then microwave it again. Repeat this process with the microwave running for 30 seconds until you see the weight drop and then start rising. At that point you hit 100% dry matter and its picking up moisture from the air. It will bottom out around 18 to 19 grams. With your Wet Weight at 26 grams, your Dry Weight at 18.5 grams...
Moisture Content = (Wet Weight - Dry Weight)/Wet Weight x 100%
Moisture Content = (26-18.5)/26 x 100% = 28.8%
With the volume you are growing, I have to assume that you are either an avid homebrewer that will need a long storage life or you are trying to start a commercial farm. At around 30%, even if you properly vacuum pack and freeze them, when you pull them out of the freezer, there will be freezer burn and possible oxidation. Most brewers will immediately reject them or at the very least be upset for having to redo their brewing calcs.
At the very least, take a few out and microwave them. Eventually, you will see how much dryer they can get. Rip them open and rub the strig against your lips and you can feel moisture. Around 5.8% or less, they will crumble to the touch. At 3%, the strig will even start to crumble. At 0%, they turn to dust if you look at them cross eyed.