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The Ginseng root is a unique and petite root vegetable known as a rhizome. Its skin is coarse, knobby, cream colored, earth-stained and scarred, the scars indicating the age of the root. It often has various thin spindly branching and fibrous extensions evolving from its base. Ginseng root is highly aromatic with a licorice-sweet flavor and earthy undertones.
Ginseng root is available from early fall through mid-winter.
Ginseng root, botanical classification Panax ginseng, is a perennial root and one of seven hundred plant species in the Araliaceae family which includes parsnips, celery and carrots. It is primarily harvested from the wild and cultivated for its medicinal properties. Wild Ginseng is increasingly endangered as it is over-harvested due to high demand. Subsequently, Ginseng is one of the most expensive herbs in the world. Though classified as a perennial, it is very slow-growing and requires at least a year for a root to reach maturity. There are four classifications of Ginseng: Fresh, Red, Sun and White. Each form is treated and processed differently to achieve their own unique beneficial effects.
Ginseng root is universally known for its medicinal properties. It is specifically used as a tonic for the spleen, kidney and adrenal functions, lungs, and as a general restorative for vital energy in the body and mind. The active ingredients in Ginseng root are saponin triterpenoid glycosides, or chemicals commonly called ginsenosides.
Fresh Ginseng root is widely used as a principal ingredient within Asian recipes, specifically Chinese and Korean, where it is an essential pantry ingredient within the kitchen. Adding ginseng to soups and teas bring out its anise-flavored profile and earthy tendencies. Complimentary ingredients include cloves, Chinese rosebuds, cinnamon, five spice, ginger, hazelnuts, curry, alliums, poultry, fermented beverages, chiles and chile sauces, malted barley, Thai basil and Wild basil, rosemary, stonefruits, strawberries and pineapple.
The word Ginseng comes from the Chinese word "jen-shen," which means "in the image of man." Ginseng rhizomes in the shape of the human body are highly desirable. Ginseng is revered in Asia for both its yin and yang properties. While Asian ginseng varieties are valued for their yang properties, American Ginseng is valued for its yin properties.
Ginseng was discovered over 5000 years ago in the mountains of Manchuria, China. Out of China's demand for Ginseng evolved international trade allowing Korea to obtain Chinese silk and medicine in exchange for wild Ginseng. By the 20th century, the demand for Ginseng outstripped the available wild supply and ironically, it was Korea who began the commercial cultivation of Ginseng. American Ginseng Root is found in the central and eastern hardwood forests of the Appalachian Mountains extending northward into Eastern Canada, where it is illegal to harvest Ginseng between January and August.
Recipes that include Ginseng Root. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Gladys Koch Home Culinary||Double-Boiled Ginseng Roots and Chicken Soup|
|One Tomato, Two Tomato||Ginseng Zing Cocktail|
|Noob Cook||Ginseng Chrysanthemum Tea|
|Maanchi||Ginseng Chicken Soup|
|NY Times||Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup)|