PHOTO CREDIT: CRAFTBEER.COM
The Pacific Northwest is famous for its hops – particularly within the craft beer community. According to Hop Growers of America, Oregon produces a whopping 15% of the country’s hops, second only to our neighbor to the north, Washington. The fragrant flowers (also called seed cones or strobiles) are what’s behind that bitter bite in our beloved IPAs, but there is actually a whole slew of uses for Humulus lupulus that don’t involve tasty beer – some dating back about a millennium.
There are so many different varieties of hops, each with its own complex flavor and aroma profile. How they’re prepared and what they’re paired with also have an impact on the overall effect of the plant.
Samuel Adams Brewing Manager Jennifer Glanville told the Huffington Post, “Hops leave a lingering citrus note on the palate and a clean, dry finish that cleanses the palate. When cooking with Tettnanger from Tettnang hops, the fresh, piney, citrus character is a bit more pure and intense since the other flavors — yeast, malt, et cetera — found in beer aren’t present.”
We think of hops as bitter, but they can actually be quite fruity and floral. Hops are now being used in everything from French fries to ice cream.
This isn’t exactly groundbreaking, as hops have reportedly been used (or at least recognized as useful) for medicinal purposes since the 11th century. According to the American Botanical Council, the plant’s popularity grew during the 1800s, when physicians began prescribing it with more regularity to treat a variety of ailments. WebMD says that hops:
- Quell anxiety, insomnia, ADHD
- Promote appetite, digestion, healthy urine flow, and the flow of breast milk
- Treat aches, pains, and skin irritation
- Are used in the treatment of prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers
Household and Personal Care Items
Since hops have strong antibacterial properties, they’re used in many different soaps, shampoos, and Tom’s of Maine deodorants. Their effectiveness in calming skin irritation also makes them a popular ingredient in lotions and other skincare products. (See the Medicinal Purposes section above.) If you’re into DIY laundry detergents and household cleaners, hops would probably make an A-plus ingredient in a variety of natural cleaning products, as well.
Good, Old Fashioned Gardening
Hops are easy to grow, climbing plants that add dimension and texture to your garden. Even if you don’t use them for any of the above, they’ll make your garden more beautiful – and more hip. (Hop.)
PHOTO CREDIT: https://derek.broox.com/photos/hot-amana/20672/