Last summer I harvested a bumper crop of hops. I was never a fan of this herb until I grew my own. My dried hops is nothing like what I have purchased in a store or on-line. Because I timed the harvest just right and dried the cones properly, I ended up with a product that was brilliant green and so fragrant. I was able to achieve its true taste and aromatics without the bitterness. There were notes of pine, citrus and florals. I quickly became very fond of my hops based morning chai. It is now almost a year later and the dream pillow I made with this plant still smell heavenly.
I used my creative super powers to find several ways to use up my bounty. This culinary oil is superb on roasted vegetables, starches or grains, grilled meats or proteins, and savory stews or soups. Such a simple and quick way to impress guests. A bottle of this oil makes a very attractive hostess gift.
Hops Culinary Oil
Loosely fill a pint canning jar 1/2 way with hops cones. Grind 1 TBSP of pink pepper corns and 1 TBSP of coriander seed in a mortar and pestle. Add to your jar. Fill with high quality virgin olive oil, stir, let settle and tap on a counter to release bubbles. Top with more oil if necessary. Store in a cool, dry, and dark place. There is no need to strain this oil.
In spring the perennial rootstock of hops will send up several spiny, woody, angular stems/shoots that can be up to 20 ft. long. These “vines” like to climb, twist and attach. Hops is known for its “aggressive” and smothering growth. Leaves are darker green, rough, cordate, serrate, opposite, palmate, with 3-5 lobes. These grow on long stems from off of the vines. Flowers are quite small, without petals, and grow in clusters on separate plants. Male flowers are small panicles/racemes appearing early in the summer. Female flowers, are catkins. These grow in size to form numerous, larger, vibrant green, highly aromatic “flowers”/strobiles with overlapping layers of bracts/scales (technically a cone shape fruit). Hops can be found growing in hedges, in the woods and sometimes along a stream as it prefers damp soil. It does well cultivated in the garden.
Hops has been used to treat insomnia, stress, muscle tension, anxiety, restlessness, hyperactivity, headaches, pain, fever, low milk supply, mastitis, menstrual problems due to low estrogen, hot flashes, menopausal symptoms, poor appetite, diarrhea, gas, IBS, Chrone’s disease, inflammation, digestive tract infection, ulcers, and rheumatism . As a bitter, it supports the liver, spleen and digestive system. Hops is a good diuretic for several conditions like cystitis, edema/water retention and kidney stones. Its antispasmodic properties make it useful for coughs and gastrointestinal spasm. Externally it has been used to treat dandruff, eczema, acne, boils, rough skin, rashes, growths, sprains, abscesses, bruises and wounds. A poultice can be helpful for headache and earache. The vines have been used to make cord, cloth and paper just like hemp which is in the same botanical family. Hops could also be used as a source of pectin.
Latin name: Humulus lupulus
Botanical Family: Cannabidacae
Parts Used: female cones/strobiles “flowers”
Energetics: cold, dry, bitter, pungent
Spiritual Uses: To support our efforts when we need to achieve a goal. Helps us to develop patience, cooperation and perseverance. Some things take a long time to manifest. Be open and receptive as often the unexpected/unwanted can be the most beneficial to us in the moment. Reminds us that giving and receiving must come from the heart. Encourages us to share ourselves with the community. But with the caution that any gift should be truly needed and requested by the receiver. This prevents energy depletion and resentment. Calming when one fears loss. Sometimes we need to loose everything in order to gain what we most want.
Contraindications: Do not use during pregnancy. Because of its sedative effect hops may not be appropriate for those with a history of depression or the use of prescription sedatives. Can cause contact dermatitis or eye irritation in sensitive individuals. Dried hops that are several months old will have a stimulating effect. This herb has a history of suppressing menstruation in women and sex drive in men. Many not support those struggling with infertility. Prolonged high doses may stress the kidneys.