Humulus lupulus L.
Hops are one of the few lianas in temperate regions that can reach 10 to 12 m in length. The plant is dioecious: with both male feet and female feet. On these latter appear ovoid cones that are very perfumed and are covered with a sticky resin called lupuline. These cones have been used to flavor beer since the twelfth century because they bring the bitterness sought after, improve the quality of the foam and improve the preservation of the beverage.
The Latin name for this plant, humulus, comes from “humus”, in Latin, which indicates the rich and fresh soil much loved by the plant.
Hops cultivation has developed in Alsace and in the north of France, particularly in Flanders, a traditional land of beer, which has earned it the name “vine of the North”. The hops are grown on large poles and in autumn the stems are cut and sorted to harvest the cones before their fertilization, when they are the richest in aromas. This culture, which has supported thousands of people, has regressed and only about thirty hectares are now still cultivated in the mountains of Flanders
In herbalism, cones are also used to fight sleep disorders, nervousness and stress conditions. This sedative action has been known for a long time; it was also advised to hop pickers to sing so as not to fall asleep at the feet of plants! Traditionally, hops were used to facilitate children’s sleep by slipping cones into the pillow or blanket.
Another property was discovered in part by the hop growers who saw their cycles disturbed because hop cones contain phyto-estrogens, analogous to certain female hormones. The use of hops is beneficial to the women going through menopause, as it reduces the intensity of hot flushes, improves sleep and reduces hair growth. In men, high consumption of beer causes gynecomastia (swelling of the breasts) but limits hair loss…
Because of this hormonal action, hops are contraindicated in case of mastosis, a history of breast cancer or hormone-dependent cancers.
Here is a recipe from the north of France that makes it possible to prepare a household beer, weak in alcohol content and thirst-quenching, (Still: to consume in moderation !):
20 l of water
A handful of chicory root
250 g malted barley
35 g of hops
25 g of yeast
Pour the water in a large container (historically a washing machine).
Put chicory, barley and hops in a cloth bag; Dip the latter in water and boil for half an hour.
The next day, add the yeast that you have previously dissolved in a little warm water. Mix thoroughly the beer obtained.
Add one teaspoon of caster sugar per bottle as you put it in bottles.
Let it rest a week before consuming