I’ve been waiting to gather my hops blossoms, and I missed the peak period for picking because a huge unexpected wind storm sort of blew the peak right out of my flowers, but I am trusting them to be good enough for what I need them for.
A couple of weeks ago, after many weeks of feeling aggressive, impatient, and cranky, I found myself sitting in front of a lovely, steaming cup of fresh hops tea with a splash of valerian root tincture in it. I had been reading that hops might help me with my awful, disruptive mood. And so I sat with that cup in my two hands and did a quick inventory of my feelings: disgusted? Check. Wanting to scream at certain people? Check. Hopeless? Check…
Then I sipped my tea and sat back and waited. Would there by any response to this brew? Imagine my surprise–because I am a deep skeptic at heart—when I found my awful feelings just melt away. Just melt, and keep on melting. Thirty minutes later, I was calm, smiling, and at peace. Clearly, hops could be a good friend to me!
The website botanical.com has much to say about the many benefits of hops use: “Both [tinctures and infusions] have been considered to be sedative, were formerly much given in nervousness and hysteria and at bedtime to induce sleep; in cases of nervousness, delirium, and inflammation being considered to produce a most soothing effect, frequently procuring for the patient sleep after long periods of sleeplessness in overwrought conditions of the brain.” That’s me, folks–overwrought brain, big time.
Hops is very bitter. Its bitter chemical, lupulin, also makes hops ideal for digestive issues, and for stimulating sluggish appetites. Lately, that, too, is me. I’ve lost 25 pounds this year, unintentionally.
I decided I would make a double tincture of hops and use it through the winter for comfort, calm, good sleep, and a happy tummy. Making the tincture is so easy!
Yesterday, I went out and gathered my hops flowers from the vine. Hops flowers don’t look like typical flowers. They remain green, and look a bit like soft, skinny pinecones. Hops are to be picked once they get “crispy” feeling, and the scent of the lupulin is strong.
I picked a big bowl, and then set the hops flowers on cookie sheets and put them in my oven. Our pilot light is a great dehydrator, so I thought I’d dry them just a bit and use them today. To make a tincture, you can use either fresh or dried hops.
I’d purchased a cheap bottle of 80-proof vodka. For tincturing, you need at least an 80-proof liquor. Some folks use rum. Some, Everclear which is near 100-proof. I settled on the vodka.
This morning, I clipped the leaves off the hops flowers and got out a wide-mouth Ball jar and screw lid. I packed the flowers tightly into the jar, and pushed them down with a spoon. Then, I poured the vodka to cover.
I will leave the jar on my counter, mark the day–today–when I began the tincture, and mark the day six weeks from today when I’ll strain the tincture, squeezing out the hops flowers for all their good ju-ju. Then, I’ll fill a fresh jar with fresh or dried hops flowers. I’ll pour my six-week-old tincture over those new hops flowers, and let this mixture sit yet another six weeks, giving me a double-strength hops tincture for winter. Just a dropper full of this should help me keep my peace of mind through these troubled times.
You can also make a small pillow out of dried hops.
It is said to help with sleep, and can also relieve earaches and toothaches. To make the pillow, just stuff a small pillow case with dried hops, and sew shut. If you microwave the pillow, the warmth will release the aroma of the lupulin, and the pillow will be even more soothing.
If this tincture stuff seems like too much bother, you can also just dry hops flowers and use them in tea. Two flowers in a cup of boiling water makes for fine sleep! If you have dried hops flowers from this year, and have a Food Saver, you can bag and seal the flowers and they will keep their potency for a long long time.
I raise my cup of comfort and peace to you and to your health!