First Root Processing

I just harvested some lovely bellflower root (Platycodon grandiflorus). It’s also called jie geng (Chinese) and doraji (Korean) and used for chest colds, asthma, and congestion, opening and dispersing lung qi. It’s also well-known in Korean cuisine. This is my second year growing jie geng and I feel confident enough about growing the plant that it’s definitely getting added to the farm. Now I just have to be able to process the roots correctly.
jie gengI also re-potted most of my growing medicinal herbs nursery and split many of my zingibers- the plants in the ginger and turmeric family. The Curcuma wenyujin (Yu Jin) had grown so large that the rhizome “fingers” had pushed the plant up in the pot. I decided to harvest and dry some of the fingers for an experiment. I tasted some of the raw root- it’s incredibly strong and spicy, with a sweet & bitter edge too. Like a super-spicy/bitter carrot.
yu jinSo I let the roots dry in the shade on the porch for a day, then washed them carefully using a nail brush. Then I sliced the thicker pieces and left the thinner roots whole. I was thrilled to see the inner corona on the jie geng slices, just like what the sliced roots look like when you purchase them.
sliced jie gengSo I put them in my electric food dehydrator at 105* for 24 hours.
dry yu jinThey are definitely dry- I can snap a piece in half- but they are also shriveled up, which is not what the purchased herbs look like. The jie geng looks the same- all shriveled up. Any suggestions on why this happened? Did I dry the pieces too fast? At too high a temperature? I don’t know, I’ll have to harvest and dry more roots to find out. Next up- smilax root and comfrey root!

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