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This question is a direct consequence of the When to harvest wild hops? one. I have heard about various techniques to do it: sun-drying, warm rooms plus paper bags to capture their humidity, ovens etc. What's your suggestion? If you suggest an oven, can you specify the ideal temperature and drying time?

Update I have built a dehydrator with a very small amount of money. Basically it is composed by four disconnected wooden frames onto which I have nailed a metal mosquito net. It works like a charm!

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I scored a 10-tray dehydrator on ebay for $100. I've not used it yet, but have heard reports that it's good for drying hop cones. I plan to use this in combination with a foodsaver, which will allow me to store the hops dry in the freezer with very little oxygen, and in a bag that acts as a good oxygen barrier. My bought hops also go in foodsaver bags once I've opened the original foil pack. The foodsaver bags can be rid of air and resealed after each brew. –  mdma Sep 6 '11 at 18:45
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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I use a food dehydrator. It does a great job of drying and with the adjustable temp control, temp isn't a problem. The only big drawback is the limited capacity, which means that I have to harvest hops every day or 2 for a couple weeks. After they are dry, I vacuum seal them and keep them in the freezer. Using this method, they easily keep for 3 years.

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This sounds like a very convenient solution, to which value do you usually set the temperature? –  tunnuz Sep 6 '11 at 18:44
    
Around 100F. I've gone as high as 130F, which is the temp I understand commercial processors use. But that seemed too high for my process. –  Denny Conn Sep 6 '11 at 20:41
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I would try furnace filters and a box fan (~2:40). You probably want to avoid a normal food dehydrator, because most of them use heat as well as moving air, so whatever you're drying winds up getting cooked as well as dried, which will break down some of the more subtle chemical compounds. If you can't do that for some reason, I would try something like window screens and a cool, dark, dry (50% humidity or lower) room, and try to move them around or turn them over every day or so, to get all sides equally dry.

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I have always had luck with just window screens laid out in the attic. –  brewchez Sep 6 '11 at 12:48
    
I just converted from the window screen method to the box fan/furnace filter method and am not looking back. It's cheap, easy, requires very little space, and even protects the hops from kids and animals while drying. –  Blaise314 Sep 6 '11 at 19:59
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Plus, when you're done, you can put hop filters in your furnace and save money on air fresheners. ;) –  baka Sep 6 '11 at 21:32
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