Primary processing of ginseng

Once the roots are harvested, the next step is to wash them. Since ginseng roots should always be washed when they are fresh, it is preferable to wash roots as soon as possible after harvest. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to over wash the roots. Too vigorous washing will damage the fragile "skin" of the root.

There are commercially available pieces of equipment specifically designed to wash ginseng roots, which typically consist of a barrel that is mechanically rotated as water jets spray the roots. Some mechanically inclined growers have even modified old wringer washers for washing roots.

It is important to regularly inspect roots throughout the drying process. Any discoloration or mold on the roots indicates a problem, suggesting the need for adjustments in the temperature, humidity, or airflow. As ginseng roots dry, they will begin to shrink, but often will remain spongy at least partway through the drying process. To determine if roots are completely dried, sample a few roots by breaking them. Properly dried roots snap easily into two pieces. Carefully inspect the inside of the root for any discoloration; a properly dried root should be entirely white inside. Drying too quickly will often create a brown ring inside the root, while drying too slowly will create moldy sections.