Welcome to winter. Well, it’s supposed to be winter, but the lack of snow and the lack of consistent cold air has made the first two months feel more like early March than December and January. Here we are on January 18 and there is no snow yet. We did have a trace amount a couple of times but neither shovel nor plow has been employed thus far.
The warm air has remained and thanks to El Nino we’ve been able to do some extensive work in the hopyard to get ready for next season. All of the plants have been marked with flags to make it easier for me to till around them with the Weed Badger. This is a great tool and we are sure glad we purchased it. I am planning on installing small poles and a low wire in each row before next season to make it easier to use the Badger during the growing season. The idea is to eliminate the “W” clips that typically anchor the hop strings and install a wire about 2 feet off of the ground for the length of each row. This wire will provide a bottom anchoring point for the strings, which will make it easier for me to cultivate around each root crown without interference from the “V” trellis design. This will be shown in my next blog update.
Besides the field work, we have been busy developing and promoting our latest Hop product line of Culinary treats. We had some extremely favorable responses to our pickled Hop shoots from last spring and will continue to explore selling them on the market next season, but our focus right now is on our delicious home-made Hop Cheese. With the help of Alvas sister and brother in law Terry and Greg we have begun promoting a Hop Cheese made with fresh whole leaf cascade hops and scamorza curd that we call “Cascamorza”. At this time we are trying to get a couple of restaurants interested in serving our cheese.
Of course making the cheese is only half the fun. The other half is eating it! Our cheese is molded into loaves and ready to eat within a week of curing in the refrigerator.
Greg and I are still perfecting the recipe, but each batch we make tastes delicious. I think with a little more time I might even be able to turn Greg into a Hophead!
In the end, we are just as excited about the culinary uses for our Hops as we are about the traditional use for beer. I must say that the real joy of this whole Hoppening doesn’t come from the hops themselves. The joy comes from spending time with and sharing these experiences with our family and friends. Where there is work to be done and plants to be grown, there are always family and friends near by to lend a hand, share a beverage, and have a few laughs. That’s why we’re successful, and we never feel like we’re living in that empty nest. Stay tuned for more blogging, more Hops, and more adventures as we continue to look towards spring and the third season of Orange County Hops.
Can you say Hop Cheese?