If you’ve ever tried your hand at making your first home-brewed infusion, the results might not have come out as you’d expected. Maybe now you’re wondering what else you can do with the spare ingredients. So grab that bag of German Bavaria mandarina and check out these intriguing alternative uses for your leftover hops.
Hops have been cultivated for centuries, and anecdotal evidence has long suggested that these plants can have a sedative effect. Laborers who cultivated hops were observed to fall asleep on the job more often compared to those working on other plants. In recent years, scientific studies have shown that hops can improve sleep quality by helping to relax brain activity.
If you happen to be suffering a period of sleepless nights or elevated anxiety, this can be an effective and natural solution. You can brew some homemade tea with dried hops and drink it to induce better sleep. There’s still a lot of research left to be done in this area, so you’d best consult your doctor before making it a regular practice. As an alternative, you can try the folk remedy – stuff your pillow with dried hops flowers.
The traditional use of hops for well-being isn’t just limited to inducing sleep. The flowers were initially cultivated for their use in the brewing process after anti-microbial properties were observed. This led to experimentation and use in various ways, such as an aid to digestion, kidney and urinary problems, analgesic, and as a salve for wounds.
While the scientific world continues to conduct clinical studies on the potential applications of hops in medicine, you can test it out for yourself as an herbal remedy in small doses. An interesting option would be to create some homemade bath soap by grinding up dried flowers into a fine powder and adding them to your mix for saponification.
Though they aren’t a common ingredient in the kitchen, hops are both edible and flavorful. The young shoots have been likened to asparagus, if cut and harvested during April and May. Hops flowers are more commonly sold for their use in brewing, and different varieties can bring a wide range of flavor notes to your dishes.
When you use hops in cooking, restraint is necessary, as even a small amount can be very bitter. This makes them an ideal balancing ingredient as a garnish in sweet-dressed salads, or in desserts such as ice cream which aren’t baked.
The hops plant is a vigorously climbing vine, and in favorable temperate conditions it can grow at an astonishing rate of up to a foot per day, reaching lengths of up to 26 feet. If you have wires or poles in your yard, these vines can easily cover such awkward structures much like ivy.
The female flowers typically blossom in a strobile form of inflorescence which can be used in attractive floral arrangements. The cut flowers continue to look great as they dry up and bring a rustic look to your home. And don’t forget their relaxing properties; simply grow hops in your garden, and as the flowers blossom you can enjoy the soothing effect just by stepping outside for some fresh air.
The many uses of hops are a reminder that even modern science still has many potential benefits to study and uncover. Take some advice from the ancients and use them in these different ways for a calming infusion into your daily life.