How to dry ginseng

TOPIC: How to keep your roots fresh for months

I’ve had a lot of diggers ask me how to keep roots fresh recently, so I thought I’d post my response here.
Some dealers want all the dirt left on and some want a slight rinse off. You’re best bet is to go somewhere in between until you know what your dealer wants. For roots that I dig, I put them in a bucket of water, move them around a little bit, then take them out. Right after I pull them out of the water, I pack them in tupperware with a layer of moist paper towels on the bottom and top, then straight to the fridge.
The goal when keeping roots fresh is to trick them into thinking they’re still in the ground, dormant for winter. So to best mimic winter conditions, you must consider temperature and moisture content.
Temperature is probably the most important. The temp should be kept between 34o-39oF. Too cold will freeze the roots, too warm and they will either start to dry out, or start to sprout. Most peoples refrigerators are set around 35o-38oF. If you notice some ice crystals in your milk or water, then your fridge is set too low for ginseng. If you keep your fridge on the warm side(+40oF), they should still be ok, but they’re more likely to dry out, or rot if the moisture level is off.
Moisture content is also very important when keeping roots fresh. There are several different ways to keep your roots from drying out in the fridge, but fresh moss is the probably the preferred method. If you use moss try to get good clean rock moss. Moss from logs is alright, just clean off all the peices of wood and debris. I personally use moist paper towels. Some people use peat moss or sifted soil from a ginseng patch. If you plan on keeping the roots fresh for over a month, I would recommend using peat moss or sifter forest soil. Regardless of the medium you use, you must make sure the moisture content is correct. If the medium is to dry, the roots will start to dry out, though be it, slowly. If the medium is too wet, the roots will start to rot. It’s better to be a little on the dry side, than wet. If they start to dry out, you can just continue to dry them, if they rot, they’re ruined. Whatever medium you are using you can check the moisture content by squeezing it firmly in your hand. There should be a steady dripping of water when squeezed firmly. If you get a stream of water, its too wet. If you only get a few drips, its too dry.
Once you have the temp and moisture level right, you can keep roots fresh for months. You should still check the moisture content once a week. I almost always give the roots a light misting when I check them each week. This is more of a theory, but I believe letting some fresh air in the container inhibits bacteria and mold growth as well.
This is just how I learned to keep roots fresh, there are several different methods. As long as you are keeping them moist and cold, they should be fine. Once you get it down though, you can keep roots in the fridge for months, and shop around for the best price.
Good luck out there everyone!
John

  • History and Background of Ginseng
  • Why should I use Ginseng?
  • How I should use Ginseng?
  • Is there a specific way I should store Ginseng?
  • How Often should I Use Ginseng?
  • Do you ship to China?
  • Do you ship to hotels and conference centers?
  • How can I slice the roots myself?
  • What age is the ginseng?
  • Do you sell ginseng tea?
  • If I order a large amount of ginseng, can I get an additional discount?

History and Background of Ginseng?

Ginseng has occupied the central position of Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years. It is known as the “King of Herbs” and is included in almost every herbal preparation utilized in Oriental medicine. Its Latin name, Panax, comes from the Greek word Panakos, meaning “cure-all.”

Ginseng has been defined as an “adaptogen” which is a substance that can biologically increase the body’s ability to deal with stress, or enhance its defense mechanism (immune system) against disease.

It is also said that Ginseng is a “normalizer.” It is good for both high and low blood pressure. It energizes those suffering from fatigue, and has a calming effect for nervous people. It has even been said that Ginseng may even slow the aging process.

American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) was first discovered by French missionaries in 1714. Within fifteen years, New England settlers were gathering the roots of the plant. In 1733, the first Vessel carrying a full load of Ginseng left Boston harbor for China.

The ginseng plant is a slow maturing (3-6 years) perennial. It consists of a single stalk with several branches and leaves. In mid summer, a bouquet of bright seeds which are collected for future gardens. However, it is the root that has restorative value and is harvested in the fall. Once harvested, the root is carefully washed, dried, and processed for the use by the consumer. The Wisconsin climate and soils make it the ideal place for this herb to thrive.

Why should I use Ginseng?

American Ginseng has been known to help relieve adverse effects of stress and fatigue. It has also been considered especially helpful to the immune system in cases of fevers or infectious disease accompanied with a fever.

Ginseng is also well noted for being a mild aphrodisiac and a reputation for improving memory, enhance learning, boosting productivity, increasing physical performance, augmentiing stamina and bolstering the function of the immune system.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed ginseng extract on its GRAS ( Generally Recognized as Safe) list. Ginseng’s reputation as a healing herb has made it popular for centuries.

How should I use Ginseng?

Ginseng can be used in different ways. It can be consumed as a dietary supplement, in the form of a capsule (most common). It can be taken with or without food. Another way of consuming the ginseng is in the form of tea. You can make your own tea with gingseng powder, which is found in our capsules. The capsules will dissolve in water since they have a gelatin coating.

Suggested recipe for ginseng tea:

  • Boil 20 ounces of water, preferably in a non-metallic container such as an enamel pr porcelain pot.
  • Then add 1-3 grams of dry whole root, sliced root powder from the capsules.
  • Reduce the flame and simmer covered for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Allow the resultant tea to cool to desired temperature.
  • Honey can be added for a little extra flavor of sweetness, if desired to make enough for several days, increase the amounts proportinatley. The tea can be safely stored in a refrigerator for up to several weeks and reheated if desired, on the stove or in a microwave.

Ginseng can also be used in cooking recipes. Some people use whole roots or sliced roots in their recipes for added flavor.

Is there a specific way I should store Ginseng?

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30°C (59 and 86°F) in airtight, dry, and light resistant containers. And remember to keep it out of the reach of children.

How often should I take Ginseng?

We recommend from 1 to 2 grams ( 2-4 capsules) of pure high quality ginseng powder per day. If purchasing dried ginseng root, have roughly 2-8 pieces each day, spread out over the course of the day. A slice of ginseng root should be about the size of a nickel, or a piece around the size of a small nut is best.

When ingesting as a tea one or two cups a day are sufficient. You can also soften the root or root slices in a cup of hot water, and then eat the softened slices with the resulting tea.

Do you ship to China?

No, we do not ship outside the US. However, we have many customers that use 3rd party companies that will re-ship the package to China.

Do you ship to hotels and conference centers?

Yes we do. We have numerous customers that come to the US from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Our customers like to bring ginseng back as gifts for their friends and families.

How can I slice the roots myself?

All you need to do is steam the roots so they get soft. Then put them in the oven at 350 degrees for just a few minutes. Take them out and slice them right away with a sharp knife. Enjoy!

What age is the ginseng?

Our ginseng products range from 3-6 years old.

Do you sell ginseng tea?

We do not sell ginseng tea. However, we recommend that our customers add ginseng powder or slices to hot water and add honey for a sweet taste. Enjoy!

If I order a large amount of ginseng, can I get an additional discount?

If you plan to order 10 lbs or more of ginseng, please send us an email for a possible additional discount.

koosen/iStock/GettyImages

Ginseng root has been used as a dietary supplement for millennia in Asia. In Chinese culture, American ginseng is considered to have a cooling effect of “yin,” while Asian ginseng has a heating effect of “yang.” It is believed that properly using both types can bring balance. Ginseng can be very expensive and is most commonly sold in a dried, sliced form that is best used for cooking in water, tea or broth.

Preparing Ginseng Tea

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 to 3 grams of ginseng for each cup of water. Add ginger, honey, dates or herbs for flavoring.

Simmer or steep tea four to five minutes until the ginseng softens. Boil for two hours, replacing water as it steams off, for very strong tea.

Strain the tea, preserving the ginseng. Drink one cup of ginseng tea a day. Reuse ginseng two to three times before discarding or eating it.

Preparing Ginseng Infusions

Wash a whole ginseng root. Pour a small amount of water into a pot. Place the ginseng inside the pot. Steam or blanch slightly until the root is warm and slightly soft but not cooked through.

Cut ginseng to fit into a bottle of honey, vodka or rice wine. Slice the ginseng into chunks to increase the infusion’s potency if you have a very small root.

Insert the root into a bottle, close it and leave it to steep five to six weeks. Shake daily to create infusion. Store in a cool, dark place. Consume judiciously.

Other Preparations

Add ginseng to any soup. Simmer about two hours for fresh ginseng, less time for dried slices. Mash fresh root when the ginseng is soft. Add it to the broth or remove it and eat separately. Dried slices can remain and be eaten with the soup.

Add seasonings to fresh root, slice thinly and soak overnight. Put the ginseng in salads and side dishes.

Add fresh ginseng slices to dishes to add a bitter, spicy flavor. Stir fry ginseng with vegetables, cook with rice or add to stuffing mixes.

Tips

  • When choosing fresh ginseng, select a light-colored, firm, blemish-free root.

  • Store fresh roots no longer than 10 days in a refrigerator.

Drying Technology

The roots of North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) are dried from approximately 70% to less than 10% (wet basis), during which the roots may shrink up to 50% of their initial volume. Drying and shrinkage affect the physical quality of the dried root. Samples of fresh ginseng roots were dried and the root shrinkage was measured. The experimental drying data were used to test a single-tank shrinkage model and a two-tank shrinkage model in calculating shrinkage of ginseng root. For the single-tank shrinkage model, the moisture is evenly distributed throughout the root cross section and as a result shrinkage takes place uniformly. For the two-lank drying model, the cross section of the root is divided into a moist core and a dry outer-layer. The shrinkage commences from the outer-layer moving towards the central parts of the root as drying progresses. By comparing shrinkage of peeled and un peeled samples, it was concluded that the root skin (epidermis) acts as a major barrier against moisture efflux from the root and hence controls the root shrinkage.

Forced-air drying of ginseng roots: 2. Control strategy for three-stage drying process

Previous research showed that a three-stage (38–50–38 °C) drying process produced equivalent dried root quality in a shorter time relative to drying at a constant temperature of 38 °C which is typical in commercial ginseng dryers. However, unless air temperature changes occurred at specific moisture levels, there were unacceptable changes in root colour. Digital images of roots were used to monitor volume shrinkage as an indirect measure of moisture content and to confirm critical points to adjust drying air temperature. Volume shrinkage was limited when root moisture was less than 18% (wet basis) so the drying end point at 10% moisture (wet basis) was estimated with a kinetic model. Model parameters depended on root size and shape and were estimated from thin-layer drying experiments. Quality of roots dried by a three-stage process was not significantly different from roots dried at a constant air temperature of 38 °C in terms of internal colour and ginsenoside content. Drying times were in the range of 100–150 h for the three-stage process compared to 180–200 h at 38 °C.

How to eat ginseng and safely reap the health benefits this winter

Buried in the Tasmanian bush, in a small town located an hour outside of Launceston, is an eco-certified farm attracting visitors who want to see and taste two foods – salmon and ginseng.

41° South Tasmania is predominantly a commercial salmon farm but, due to its owners’ personal fascination with ginseng, it also boasts a small-scale production of the slow-growing herb.

“The problem with ginseng is that it takes two years for the seeds to geminate and four-to-six years for the plants to mature,” says Ziggy Pyka, the German-born co-owner of 41° South Tasmania. “So if you want to grow ginseng, it will take around eight years to produce one harvest.”

So why does he bother? Pyka, who was first introduced to ginseng by a friend over 20 years ago, says he produces the herb because it provides amazing health benefits.

“People in Asia have used ginseng for its health benefits for thousands of years but most westerners don’t know what to do with it. They think it is just used in energy drinks.”

“Ginseng is good for your overall health, longevity, vision and memory,” says the 62-year-old. The herb also offers a subtle energy boost. “But it does more than that: ginseng makes your head clear.”

“People in Asia have used ginseng for its health benefits for thousands of years but most westerners don’t know what to do with it. They think it is just used in energy drinks.

“It is my opinion that energy drinks have only seen the ginseng plant from the outside. There’s not enough ginseng on the planet to fill all the bottles of energy drinks being sold. And if you had enough ginseng to fill all the bottles of energy drinks, you would pay too much per bottle.

Pyka says ginseng retails for around $100 AUD a kilo in Asia. “If you want to buy some from us, it might be thousands of dollars a kilo because it takes eight years of my life to grow .”

The Tassie farm produces ginseng on a half-acre plot, generating enough to include small amounts in two products available for sale – Tasmanian Leatherwood honey with ginseng and a ginseng spice mix. Pyka also sells a ginseng essence to the public

“Ginseng is good for your immune system. Since I started taking ginseng, other people have colds – I don’t.”

Research suggests that Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng) can have a positive impact on insulin resistance and hypertension. A study conducted in 2012 also shows that ginseng can increase your resistance to various illness or microbial attacks by regulating the immune system.

Pyka’s personal stash of ginseng comes from the huge jar on display at the farm’s shop, featuring a decade-old ginseng root preserved in vodka. Customers should note that this ginseng mix is not for sale.

“I fill up a tincture bottle ,” he says. “I take it by dripping a few drops in my mouth every day. I take it for four weeks and then have a break. You can’t take ginseng all the time – you have it for a period and then you have to take a break from having it.”

A ‘serious herb’, served with a warning

41° South Tasmania grows both Korean and American ginseng. Pyka explains that there’s a big difference in the chemical composition of the two plants. They produce opposite effects on the body – Korean ginseng is warming while American ginseng is cooling. “They are Yin and Yang.”

It’s also important to note that there are other plants that are called ginseng (like Siberian ginseng) which are unrelated species.

“You have to be careful when you take ginseng that you know what kind you are taking and how much you are taking. This is especially important if you have a warming ginseng but you don’t have any problems with warming .”

“It’s typically used for people who might be older whose blood flow is slow and feel cold all the time.”

Director of Traditional Chinese Medicine Australia, Dr Shuquan Liu, stresses that ginseng is a “serious herb” that should only be taken in moderation with expert direction.

Dr Liu says ginseng is usually consumed throughout Asia for medicinal purposes, not for its flavour. It is often combined with other herbs together to derive a better health function.

“I come from the same region where ginseng comes from – Manchuria – where it’s very cold for almost six months of the year,” says Dr Liu. “So in winter, you need ginseng to keep your blood flowing faster and to clean out the toxins from the blood.

“It’s typically used for people who might be older whose blood flow is slow and feel cold all the time.” It may not be suitable for all younger people or for consumption in mild weather.

“If you take it too often , your body might get too hot. It could cause nose bleeding and other serious problems if you take it but don’t need to take it.”

Dr Liu explains that dried or concentrated ginseng is not suitable for women going through menopause, people on medications causing hot flushes, pregnant women, people with high blood pressure or those on blood thinning medication.

“If you take it too often , your body might get too hot. It could cause nose bleeding and other serious problems if you take it but don’t need to take it.”

He says fresh ginseng is a lot less powerful than its dried or concentrated varieties. Although it’s not recommended for daily consumption, it is safer to consume on a more regular basis.

“In Korean culture, it’s very popular to use fresh ginseng to make ginseng and chicken soup (Samgyetang).

“You need to cook fresh ginseng a long time to extract the function from it, so that it the stock. You can then use the stock to make soups in in winter. It’s warming.

“It’s cold weather now so most people can have some ginseng. Just don’t take it too often.”

Korean ginseng chicken soup

Korean ginseng chicken (sam-gye-tang) soup uses a whole young chicken stuffed with ginseng, jujubes, chestnuts, garlic and sticky rice. Traditionally, this soup is revered during the hottest month of the year to combat the fierce heat.

Ginseng chicken (samgyetang)

Ginseng is a revered ingredient in Korean cuisine for its health-giving benefits. It features in Asian soup mixes and is accompanied by Chinese dates (jujubes) and licorice root in this warming dish.

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