How much do hops weigh?
May 11, 2011 1:27 AM   Subscribe

How many individual hops flowers are in an ounce of fresh hops from Freshops?

I'm planning to buy whole hops for use in wedding favors. I've brewed a few batches of beer, but only with hop pellets, and haven't ever handled the buds by themselves. So: how many ounces do I need to buy to get at least 110 buds?

Backstory: the favors are going to be 2 oz jars of honey with a single hop bud in each, probably Cascade. These will be along with bottles of my own honey ale, also made with cascade hops. My hope is that the honey will take on the citrus and herbal flavoring without becoming overtly bitter. Any thoughts from the hive as to why this might be a bad idea?
posted by lostburner to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's been a long time since I made beer, but I vaguely remember there being around 100 flowers in a 1oz bag. I have no experience of Freshops - I've only used hops from here in the UK. I would imagine that a couple of ounces ought to be more than enough, although you might want to wait for a second opinion.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:02 AM on May 11, 2011

A few thoughts: presumably when you say "fresh hops" you mean dried hops, not green hops? Green hops are "wet" and contain about 9-10x the water of dried hops. So for the weight you'd need a lot more of them. That said, I don't think you'd want to even think about using green hops.

I would agree le morte's comment if these were dried hop flowers, uncompressed. A couple of ounces would suffice.

Dried hop flowers aren't that pretty. They're delicate and I don't think they'd be very stable in honey. They might last a couple of weeks. They will rot and degenerate over time. When you use hops in brewing you tend not to want to leave them long-term in the beer - we try to limit this time to a couple of weeks max. Also any hop essence extracted from them would have a hard time diffusing through the honey if the honey is quite set.
posted by sagwalla at 2:29 AM on May 11, 2011

Honey is a preservative. They might be all right for a bit - although I'd definitely want to do a test run to make sure that they don't break down too quickly and that the flavor will permeate the honey.

Now, as to your question, you could get anywhere from 40-90 cones per ounce of hops. And Cascade cones run on the large side. Beyond that you'd want extra to account for breakage. You know a lot of commercial hop cones come vacuum sealed, right? So they're going to be smushed to leaves pretty much.

Here's a cones per ounce discussion.

Did you happen to notice that the minimum order at Freshops is 12 ounces total?
posted by elsietheeel at 5:35 AM on May 11, 2011

Adding an item into another item and letting it sit can be a big food safety problem. I have no idea about how honey works as far as that goes, and am not getting anywhere with Google, but. Potential down side of this idea: squeamish guests thinking 'I bet she didn't boil this for fifteen minutes like it says in Home Herbal Honey Manufacture!' and throwing it out. Hopefully somebody with more experience in honey adulterations will come along.
posted by kmennie at 6:06 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I grow hops, but am not sure how many per ounce by weight because flower size varies widely. I will say however that if you are planning a presentation of a "perfect" Hop flower you will most likely have to buy more than you think because most hops unless hand picked, are stripped from the vine by machine and end up less than perfect. All Hops are ( or should be ) air dried for a day at least. They should still appear as looking like a fresh whole hop, not a dessicated dry flower.
posted by Gungho at 6:17 AM on May 11, 2011

In brewing, the term "whole" hops is used to distinguish from pelletized hops or hop plugs. But in all cases, hops sold for brewing are processed to one degree or another. Usually whole hop flowers, as sold for brewing purposes, are pretty thoroughly dried before packaging, and vacuum-packed to avoid exposure to oxygen. This means they get crushed in the process, even though they're not deliberately powdered like pellets would be. And especially after shipping, I suspect you'll end up with something that looks more like this than this (and I assume you'd prefer the latter, presentation-wise).

Since you need to boil hops in order to isomerize the bittering acids, I wouldn't worry much about bitterness getting into the honey, but the presentation might not be what you'd like. I'd probably lean towards using fresh (green) hops as opposed to the "whole" hops that a brewing supplier would sell you, if you're committed to having a hop in each jar. But I'd suggest it might work better to try adding some hops to the honey to get the flavor you want, then filtering them out before packaging. Maybe tie a hop garland to the jar for the presentation?

As far as obtaining fresh hops, maybe look to a florist instead of a brewing supplier; the florist who supplied our wedding made some really nice boutonnieres with fresh hops.
posted by nickmark at 7:46 AM on May 11, 2011

Decent brewing supply shops where I live (Minneapolis/St. Paul metro) have varieties of dried hops for bulk sale. You could get something relatively unusable (for your purposes) through the mail that was perfectly acceptable for brewing. Buying in person would prevent this.

If you have time I'd do a test run on this. A hop might fall apart in honey, and the flower bits are pretty much inedible so this would render the honey worthless. It might not flavor the honey much at all, I don't know if honey is all that great a solvent.
posted by nanojath at 8:59 AM on May 11, 2011

Just had an idea...go to the local home brew shop and ask if they know anyone who grows their own hops. Depending on the season you may be able to pick your own.
posted by Gungho at 9:58 AM on May 11, 2011

The hop harvest in the northern hemisphere is early September.

Nanojath makes a great point - hops taste terrible. It's what we extract from them we're interested in. In 2 oz of honey you're going to leave a lot behind. The dried hop flower will break up.

Be careful about adding water to honey... that's the base of mead; it will ferment from the wild yeasts in the honey or on the hops / in the air. A beekeeper told me this weekend that part of keeping honey is effectively weathering off some of the liquid so it won't ferment.
posted by sagwalla at 10:42 AM on May 11, 2011

You've all pretty much confirmed what I was fearing about this notion: that the hops may be likely to fall apart in the honey, and that if they have any moisture at all then they're likely to rot in there (or people will think they're likely to rot in there). So if I go forward, I'll go to my homebrew shop and ask about getting whole cones, and then dry them in the sun. But realistically, it's starting to look like this is just harebrained. The right answer may be mixing it all up and filtering, and forgoing the flower in the jar.
posted by lostburner at 10:47 AM on May 11, 2011

Hop extracts do exist, which might make flavoring the honey easier. I'm not sure how readily-available they are in the retail market, but you could ask at your homebrew shop.
posted by nickmark at 10:57 AM on May 11, 2011

Hop extracts are for bittering. You won't get aroma or flavor components at all, which would be the entire point of hopping honey.

When's the wedding? My hop bines are just starting to take off and I can't imagine I'll see cones for months yet, so there may be an issue finding green cones in the near future.

It might be hard to filter all the hop particles out of the honey, even if you heated it. And I'm not sure that over-heating honey is a good idea - I know that if you use honey in your boil you lose most of the flavor and aromatics, which is why I add it at flameout if I'm doing a honey ale.

Maybe you could heat a quarter of your honey, add a TON of hops (whole, not pelleted), keep it going near boiling for a while, then filter out the particulates and mix that intensely hopped honey to the rest of it. Then you wouldn't be sacrificing your honey flavor to extract the oils from the hops?
posted by elsietheeel at 11:20 AM on May 11, 2011

Wouldn't boiling the hops into the honey draw out bitterness rather than aroma and flavor? Maybe a short boil would be effective to get aroma and flavor while leaving the bitterness behind.
posted by lostburner at 11:46 AM on May 11, 2011

Well if you're making beer, flavor hops get added around 15 minutes, aroma hops at 5.

That's not going to up your bitterness by much, as you've got to have a prolonged rolling boil for proper hop utilization - you won't be actually boiling the honey, just keeping it at a simmer. And Cascade is more of an aroma hop anyway, the acids are around 6% so it shouldn't bitter a lot.

I would get the honey up to about 200 degrees (the boiling point of honey is slightly higher than water), then add a third of the hops. Then I'd make further hop additions after 5 minutes, and after another 5 minutes, then let it go for 5 minutes and then I'd filter IMMEDIATELY while it was still hot, before the honey got too viscous.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:07 PM on May 11, 2011

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