Hops, Hemp and Cannabis Packaging Guide
The Complete Package: High Barrier Bags, Oxygen Absorbers, Nitro-Flush Vacuum Sealers
Packaging hops and hemp for lasting freshness is best achieved with an opaque, high barrier package which has been removed of oxygen either through vacuum sealing or an oxygen absorber packet. The best storage system will vary depending on whether you are at the farming or brewing stage.
How to Select the Right Package
The “right” package will depend on factors such as how long you will be storing product, what volumes you are looking to store, and how the product will be handled next. Whether you are a farmer, craft brewer or a home brewer, you want to make sure your package blocks light and oxygen which are known to corrode your product. Most typically our hops and hemp customers are using Mylar Foil films with food-safe inner layers, but we also see clear vacuum bags being used, particularly by home brewers who are pre-portioning pelletized hops and hemp to freeze. Read on for recommendations specific to your stage and process.
Preserving the freshness of your hops and hemp is about more than the proper bag selection. Your next step is creating a controlled low oxygen environment. For hops and hemp farmers at the initial packaging stage, we recommend a vacuum seal with a nitrogen flush. Later, once the bag has been opened by the craft brewer, we recommend a hand held sealer to close partially used bags. At this stage we also recommend an oxygen absorber to reduce oxygen levels for greater freshness. Home brewers looking for an inexpensive method often use home vacuum sealers in combination with textured channel bags, which they then freeze.
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Initial Packaging Considerations and Equipment Options
Reclosing bags of hops and hemp, solutions for maintaining freshness.
Simple options for home brewing, how to keep your stock fresh.
Why Does High Barrier Protection Matter?
Proper storage requires a controlled atmosphere. For over 20 years, IMPAK has provided customers with innovative packaging solutions, from flexible packaging products such as high barrier bags, to desiccants, oxygen absorbers, and sealing machinery. We know high barrier packaging and created the Hops and Hemp Green line after noticing an increasing number of our vacuum bags / Mylar bags were being used to package hops and hemp. Select from 3 convenient sizes at a cost-effective price point.
Misconceptions About Preserving Hops and Hemp
There is a lot of misinformation about food preservation and storing hops and hemp. Preserving hops and hemp comes down to the same principles as any other long term food storage: it’s all about the barrier, and keeping oxygen and other contaminates out. Whether you're packaging for a few days, or a few months, a controlled environment is critical to preserving freshness and flavor.
Vacuum sealed Mylar bags are the preferred choice for professionals, while home growers may opt for clear vacuum seal bags similar to FoodSaver® bags. IMPAK offers both. In addition to our Hops and Hemp Green Bags line, IMPAK offers a wide range of Mylar foil pouches in silver: see them here. We also offer clear vacuum bags see them here
IMPAK does not claim to be experts on packaging hops and hemp. We leave that to professionals like Mark Garetz, author of Using Hops. *Using Hops was published in 1994, which means Mr. Garetz has been working with hops for at least as long as IMPAK has been working with high barrier packaging.
“Vacuum packing and inert-gas packaging in an oxygen-barrier material are the best packaging methods. The common type of oxygen-barrier packaging is the "boiling bag" which is clear and made from a lamination of two types of plastic… The next step up in effectiveness is the aluminized mylar bag (also known as the foil bag or pouch), which adds a layer of aluminum that increases the barrier protection more than 10-fold.” – Mark Garetz, Brewing Techniques
Ensuring that your crop maintains the same great flavor and smell comes down to proper bag selection and the removal of oxygen. There are several methods and equipment options but your basic goal is to package your product quickly in a low oxygen environment.
- Initial Packaging: How to Select the Right Package
A proper barrier against elements such as light and oxygen is the first step in maintaining product freshness. Typically hops and hemp farmers select a mutli-layer film composition with a food-safe inner layer. IMPAK’s PAKVF4C material takes this a step further with a sealant layer capable of sealing through the oils and powders that are typical in fresh hops and hemp packaging. Bags constructed of this material range in sizes for ounces to 11, 22 and 44 pounds, and larger.
- Ensuring Product Freshness: How to Remove Oxygen
Keeping hops and hemp fresh is a matter of removing oxygen. This can be achieved in 2 ways: vacuum sealing the bag after a nitrogen-flush; or sealing the bag with an oxygen absorber inside. For long term freshness you could combine all of the above, however most of our customers find that choosing one or the other is more than sufficient for the length of time they will be storing their product.
Hops and hemp farmers generally prefer a nitrogen-flush vacuum seal over oxygen absorbers because of its immediacy and convenience. Oxygen absorbers are often called “oxygen scavengers” because they scavenge residual oxygen; with a nitrogen-flush and vacuum seal you are removing most of the residual oxygen almost immediately.
IMPAK's all-electric industrial vacuum sealers are outstanding units for medical and clean room use. Unlike air driven pneumatic sealing machines, The electric sealers have no need for an air compressor source. Since the sealers do not require an air compressor unit, these motor driven vacuum sealers will work more quietly than other pneumatic driven vacuum sealers on the market. This sealer gives a strong 5mm - almost .25 inch - seal from a frame that is built for either 17.7" or 13.8" wide pouches. See our stock units here: Electric Vacuum Sealers
The PneuVak sealers are pneumatic vacuum sealers capable of handling a wide range of materials, with added controls for gas flush and safety features such as an emergency stop. These vacuum sealers have a small foot print (as small as 27” x 11” x 12”) and require only a power source and air source. See our stock units here: PneuVak Vacuum Sealers
This tabletop vacuum sealer machine is made from high-grade stainless steel and quality anodized aluminum frame. It's good for medium to high production use. It comes with dual heat elements, PLC touch screen, single-ported exhaust, stainless steel frame, Venturi vacuum pump, and twin retractable nozzles as standard features. Contact our team for custom units, and see our stock units here: WorkHorse Vacuum Sealers
This vacuum sealer machine with mobile stand and separate control head is made from high-grade stainless steel and quality anodized aluminum frame body. This retractable vacuum sealer comes with dual heat elements, PLC touch screen, single-ported exhaust, stainless steel frame, Venturi vacuum pump, and double retractable nozzles as standard features. See them here: Custom Pak Vacuum Sealers
Large Barrier Bags
The sustainable, economic packaging option for growers and brewers.
These multi-layered bags are light-resistant, oxygen resistant, and have a special layer that will seal through oils and powders, which makes them ideal for hops and hemp packaging. They are produced in an FDA-approved, food grade material (PAKVF4C 5.0) in forest green, and are sized for 11lb., 22lb., and 44lb. pelletized hops and hemp(1lb., 5lb., and 10lb. fresh bale).* A multi-layered Mylar foil bag is your best bet for long term food storage and our hops and hemp bags may be vacuum sealed, nitrogen flushed, and reused. IMPAK also offers a wide range of oxygen absorbers and sealing equipment to complete your hops and hemp packing process. *Other packaging solutions include our standard MylarFoil bags, or Boilable Bags
*Weight varies by hops and hemp form, contact IMPAK for samples to test your product
Features & Advantages
Bulk Processing "Leaf" Bags - 37.5" x 51.0" Flat High Barrier Bags
The same proprietary material used for IMPAK’s Green Hops and Hemp Bags is used on these large high barrier bags for bulk processing of whole-leaf hops and hemp, or even pellets.
Although the bags are silver, not green, they have the same sealing layer which is capable of sealing directly through powders and oils. They can also be opened by cutting a portion off and then resealed afterwards.
Interested in the unique barrier properties of this material? See the Spec Sheet here: PACVF4C
Typically, we see that our craft brewers receive their pelletized hops and hemp from their hops and hemp supplier and are more concerned with resealing opened bags while maintaining freshness, and possibly re-packaging their hops and hemp in different volumes. IMPAK has solutions for these different needs.
Resealing Hops and Hemp Bags
IMPAK offers several very simple solutions for resealing opened bags of hops and hemp. These range from bag clips that offer an air-tight seal without the need for a heat sealer, to hand held heat sealers such as our 6" HotJaw, or our more robust hand held sealers, the US-Made HHI-Series which are T-Clamp Sealers that come in the following lengths: 8", 12", 15", 18", and 26". Another US-Made option is the similar portable sealer, the GXS-Series which are Scissor Sealers. See these options below, and read on for why IMPAK recommends pairing all of these options with an oxygen absorber.
HotJaw Portable Sealers
Available Sizes: 6"
Keeping Resealed Bags Fresh
Each time your bag is opened oxygen enters the bag and starts to deteriorate your product. To help fight the corrosive effects of oxygen, we recommend an oxygen absorber. This is a quick and efficient way to protect your product without slowing your process down. IMPAK has several oxygen absorber packet recommendations based on bag sizes below, but the appropriate size for you will depend on the frequency which you open your bag and the length of storage. We try and err on the side of over-production.
Re-Portioning Your Hops and Hemp into Smaller Bags
Many of our craft brewer customers repackage their hops and hemp into the exact volumes they use in their production batches. For this they use any number of our flat and stand up Mylar-foil bags. For 1 lb. pellet bags we have several recommendations below, but we suggest browsing our entire Mylar category for other sizes. It is worth noting that IMPAK offers samples of our bags so that customers can test capacity of their specific product. The suggestions below are estimates and we recommend testing before placing a bulk order.
4.25" x 6.0" - Green MylarFoil Flat Pouch with Tear Notches (P/N: 0425VF4C06GR)
8.0" x 10.0" - Green MylarFoil Flat Pouch with Tear Notches (P/N: 08P4C10GR)
6.0" x 9.37" x 3.25" - Kraft MylarFoil Stand Up Pouch with Zipper & Tear Notches (P/N: CLK325Z)
6.0" x 9.37" x 3.25" - Black MylarFoil Stand Up Pouch with Zipper & Tear Notches (P/N: CBB325Z)
10.0" x 16.0" O.D. - Silver MylarFoil Flat Pouch (P/N: 10VF4C16)
10.0" x 16.0" O.D. - Green MylarFoil Flat Pouch (P/N: 10VF4C16GRRC)
As the popularity of home brewing has steadily increased, we have seen the demand for packaging increase as well. Every home brewer seems to follow their own method, but we can share some of the common things we see. Most often we see home brewers repackaging their pellet hops and hemp into smaller portions which they vacuum seal in channel bags and then freeze.
IMPAK sells a wide range of pre-sized vacuum bags, as well as rolls that can be cut to size. One of our most in-demand sizes are our 4.0" x 6.0" vacuum bags which are used to package hops and hemp into 2oz portions. These bags are sold in a smaller case than our typical industrial quantities at just 100 bags. These bags are an excellent alternative to the cost and time of creating bags from FoodSaver rolls.
Home Brewer Special: 2oz Pellet Hops and Hemp Vacuum Bags - 100 Pack of 4" x 6" Bags
4" x 6" textured vacuum bag 100 Pack (100 bags), ideal for 2oz hops and hemp pellet samples for home brewing.
Label says 2-4oz. hops and hemp pellets but with most commercial hops and hemp pellets, these bags will fit a max of 3.5oz. Request samples to test.
*Please note: labels on bags are for photo purposes only, bags come unlabeled
Vacuum Bags for Freezing Hops and Hemp
|Size (OD)||Part Number||Material||Case Quantity||Shop|
Vacuum Sealers for Channel Bags
The CounterMate Vacuum Sealers are an ecomomic option for home brewers looking to vacuum seal their hops and hemp with professional results. They come in 5 models and range from $59.99 for the “Starter” series, to $299.00 for the “Pro” series.
See them all here: CounterMate Vacuum Sealers
Ready to place an order? Need help selecting the right sealer or oxygen absorber? Contact IMPAK:
Phone: (310) 715-6600, Email: email@example.com
All About Oxygen Absorbers
Why Do I Need Oxygen Absorbers?
More than any other atmospheric element, oxygen supports the growth of aerobic microorganisms such as fungi and mold. With the growth of these microorganisms, the integrity of a package is drastically compromised. In food products, discoloration takes place, rancidity and putrefaction set in, and the possibility of food poisoning is ever present. With historical documents, art and other artifacts, the presence of oxygen contributes to rapid deterioration, mildew, mold and a wide array of other contaminants. Oxygen Absorbers were designed to protect against such problems. When packaged properly (i.e., an appropriately sized oxygen absorber inside of a high oxygen barrier can or bag), the oxygen level in the surrounding atmosphere is effectively reduced to approximately 0.01%.
Benefits of Oxygen Absorbers
- Helps retain fresh-roasted flavor of coffee and nuts
- Prevents oxidation of spice oleoresins present in spices themselves and in seasoned foods
- Prevents oxidation of vitamins A, C and E
- Extends life of pharmaceuticals
- Inhibits mold in natural cheeses and other fermented dairy products
- Delays non-enzymatic browning of fruits and some vegetables
- Inhibits oxidation and condensation of red pigment of most berries and sauces
- Oxygen deprivation contributes to a pest-free environment in museums
Why Purchase Them From IMPAK?
· Quality: Every single production run is put through a series of tests to ensure the Oxygen Absorbers can successfully perform their job. Stock is routinely rotated to ensure that our Oxygen Absorbers are sold in a timely manner.
· Price: The ability to produce high volume production runs allows us to be flexible in our pricing. Substantially discounted pricing is available for larger orders.
· Availability & Selection: IMPAK maintains a regularly stocked supply of all sized Oxygen Absorbers. Whether you need a single pack of 100cc Oxygen Absorbers, or 50 full cases of 2000cc Oxygen Absorbers, we have them on hand. Interested in custom printed oxygen absorber packets? We can do that too.
· Technical Support: Realizing how important your product storage and preservation is, IMPAK has in-house technical staff to assist you.
Common Misconception About Oxygen Absorbers Over the years, many documents and articles have been published about Oxygen Absorbers. Outside of the majority of scholarly articles and patents produced on actual Oxygen Absorber products, much of what has been published is unfortunately rife with misinformation and half-truths. The fact is, the vast majority of Oxygen Absorber distributors only have a rudimentary knowledge of the product. Sadly, these same individuals produce tons of “informative” pdf files, web pages, and articles on Oxygen Absorbers, which tend to rank high in the search engine results. While there are certainly many Oxygen Absorber fallacies circulating online, we will only cover the most glaring misinformation here. 1. “Oxygen absorbers are made of a chemical compound, the active ingredient of which is a powdered iron oxide…” (Taken from a “scholarly” article produced by Wholesale Group International here): The truth is, “iron oxide” is NOT a component of an Oxygen Absorber. Iron Oxide is CREATED as the Oxygen Absorber does its job. The “active ingredient” of an Oxygen Absorber is simply iron. After the iron begins to rust, the combination of iron and oxygen create a new substance: iron oxide. 2. “…hand warmers are the same as oxygen absorbers.” (From a forum post at prepperforums.net here): While certainly no Oxygen Absorber distributor would tell you this, there are literally hundreds of videos, articles and forum posts online that make this claim. While hand warmers may indeed have an oxygen absorption effect, they also contain inedible substances such as vermiculite, which by itself is not necessarily harmful, but often contains impurities such as asbestos. 3. “Oxygen Absorbers are manufactured to different compositions to match the water activity of the foods they are intended for.” (From the aforementioned article in Number 1 here): While it is certainly true that there are many different types of Oxygen Absorbers, made from many different chemical compounds and compositions, the ONLY difference between one Oxygen Absorber and the next in the food packaging industry is the size of the oxygen absorber. Many Oxygen Absorber distributors attempt to present themselves as manufacturers and “experts” in the field, with scientists and engineers on staff; they make silly claims that their Oxygen Absorbers are chemically engineered to address a variety of different water activity levels, but the truth is, the only thing that changes is the CC (cubic centimeter) absorption capacity of the Oxygen Absorber, and this is determined by the size, not chemical structure or composition of the Oxygen Absorber. To learn more, visit our Oxygen Absorber Fact Sheet.