Hops – not just for beer

Hops are well known for their use in brewing beer. The hop cone is the female inflorescence and produces various levels of alpha acids, beta acids and other oils depending on the cultivar. The levels of these compounds classify each hop cultivar as either an aromatic hop (for aroma) or a bittering hop (for flavour).

Many people may not know that aside from the brewing process hops also have other uses including as a medicinal herb. Traditionally hops were used in teas or tinctures as a sedative to reduce tension and aid in digestion or stuffed in pillows as a sleep aid. Today, hops are still found in herbal products for these purposes.

Hops growing on trellis

The hop plant is a perennial and is typically started from rhizomes. The plant is grown on a 5 metre high trellis system and during optimal growing conditions can grow up to 30 cm in one day. Hops are grown throughout southern Ontario and are harvested from mid August and into September. Cones are dried at low temperatures to an 8-10% moisture level to increase shelf life.

Hop cone

For more information on hops and other medicinal and culinary herbs please register for the Herbs for Ontario Workshop to be held August 24 from 10 am – 3 pm at the Simcoe Research Station. RSVP by August 12 to Leslie Parks at

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