HOP TO IT
Growing your own hops? Use them in teas, tinctures or sleep pillows for their soporific properties. When drying homegrown hops, keep in mind the therapeutic value may not last long. Commercially, the hops are dried immediately to a water content of about 10 per cent for stability reasons, then kept under constant refrigeration. The bitter principles (which have sedating activity) can break down rapidly during storage and, unless refrigerated, their concentration decreases by 50 to 70 per cent in six months. That’s why it’s hard for the home gardener to retain the active ingredients on drying. Get the most from your hops by making a tincture from your freshly harvested crop. Fill a glass jar with fresh hops, top with a high-proof vodka. Screw the lid on tightly. Place in a dark room. Shake daily for 4-6 weeks, then strain. Pour into a dark bottle.