Washing Fresh Ginseng
I wonder how many folks will pass this one up because it seems so obvious how to 'wash' something. Well, over the years, I've found that there are many ginseng diggers who honestly don't know the proper way to wash ginseng. I suspect there are dealers out there who don't know either. Here it is in a nutshell, don't leave extra dirt on the roots, and don't wash them too clean. Clear as mud isn't it?
Ok, lets start with some pictures. I went out and dug a few wild roots and took some pictures of the process of properly washing the roots to ensure the best market price.
As you can see, there is some extra dirt clinging to the roots. Just run a pan of water and drop them in. And, before you ask, I don't remember why I left the tops on those couple roots. I'm sure it made sense at the time though!
After letting them soak for about five minutes, just shake them off in the water as you pull the individual roots out of the tub. If there is clay or stuborn dirt clinging in bunches, just wipe them gently with your finger. Don't worry about getting them too clean. This is how they look after their bath.
Here are a couple individual comparisons.
Notice I am intentionally leaving the dirt in the rings to enhance their appearance. Lay the roots out in a shady spot to dry. The prefered method for preparing the roots for permanent drying is to let them surface dry completely, then place them in a paper bag and refrigerate them for a couple weeks first. This changes the starches in the roots to sugar and further enhances the appearance and quality of the finished roots.
Yes, washing ginseng roots is very simple. However, you would be shocked to see that some diggers still scrub their roots with a toothbrush to get all the dirt out of those pesky rings! Root that is too clean, and root that has the skin damaged or scrubbed off, is damaged root and only worth about half what it might be otherwise.