OK in Part 1, we focused on the why’s to freezing your hops. In this post we’ll focus on the how’s. But first a little intro:
When hops are compressed into pellets, they have very little moisture. Whole hops (or cones) are usually dried before freezing, so the same goes for them. Never freeze “wet” hops. The moisture will crystallize and can impact the flavor and cause freezer burn.
So now that you have your pellets or dried hops, find a nice air tight container – glass jars or foil bags (should be able to get these at your local coffee shop) would be the best. But a good zip lock back works, too. Air tight is key because unlike commercial freezers, we all probably have more than one item in ours – which means lots of smells that can cross pollinate thus mucking up your hops. If you want to go the extra step you can saturate your hops with CO2 or use a vacuum sealer to get all the O2 out. If you don’t have either of those, just squeeze the air out as much as you can.
Depending on how you got your hops – local homebrew store or by mail. They might come in different degrees of coolness. All should come airtight unless you are getting fresh hops. Even then some consideration should be taken.
If your hops come frozen or cooled, try not to let them flux too much in temp. So load them right into the freezer if you’re not going to be using them right away. And when you do pull out of the freezer, take out what you need and put the rest back. There’s no need to let them all thaw or have prolonged exposure to air if you don’t need to. That won’t do you any favors on the whole “prolonging the life of the hops” idea.
Also keeping them out of the light as much as possible helps too. Most of us don’t have a glass freezer, so shouldn’t be a problem – especially if you follow the practices above.
So there you have it. The proper way to freeze your hops for maximum shelf life. Not to hard at all. Just a little diligence and it’ll become routine in no time. Your beer (and its drinkers) will thank you.