Saturday, December 1, 2007

How to Clean and Dry Wild Ginseng Roots

After I get home with my ginseng roots, I like to soak them in water for a bit. Then I fill the sink with water and take an old soft toothbrush and gently brush the dirt off the roots. You do not want to use a stiff brush or scrub hard or you'll end up breaking the skin covering the root.

Now you may hear some people who disagree with this and say that you should just rinse the dirt off under running water or to just soak them or whatever. They may also say that it is good to leave dirt around the rings as it looks better and adds value. All I can say is that I guess it depends on what your dealer prefers. I cleaned my roots more than adequately a few times, just soaking and rinsing them and rubbing off any obvious dirt that was left with my fingers and rinsing them again. When the roots dry they shrink in size considerably and thus look dirtier even though they looked really clean before. My particular dealer (who has been in business for a very long time and pays a better price than the dozens of other dealers I have contacted) complained about the amount of dirt on them, but still paid me full price. That's why I started using the soft toothbrush. It's still fairly quick and does a better job and my ginseng dealer likes the end result better.

After you get your ginseng roots cleaned, the next step is getting them dried out. First the don'ts. Do not put them in an oven or microwave or on top of a wood stove, etc. Do not set them out in the sunlight. Drying them fast or in the sun discolors them and the buyers do not like that.
If you have a screen or tray with a screen bottom that is perfect. If not you can use a tray, a shallow box, paper plates, a baking sheet, etc. and line it with paper towels. Place your roots on whatever you use in a single layer and spaced out enough that they aren't touching. Now you need a place to set them. Somewhere that stays 85-90 degrees with low humidity would be ideal. Places like this would include attics, storage buildings, or maybe your garage. Make sure mice or other rodents can't get to your ginseng. Drying will take probably at least 2 and maybe 3 weeks depending on the conditions, the size of the roots,etc. When it is dry it should break clean with a snap rather than bend.

In my next post we will discuss selling your roots.

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