De-Pulping Ginseng Berries
De-pulping – Extracting the seeds from the berries flesh before stratifying them is highly recommended. If you decide to leave the fruit on during the stratification process you will need much more space.
Space is not the only concern; you increase your risk of disease and rot from the decomposing berries. Why add unnecessary risk if you don’t have to?
There are a few different methods of De-pulping the ginseng seeds. There are also machines out there that will automatically do this but are not designed for the everyday grower.
One method of De-pulping takes a bit more time but is much easier. Remember that good old saying “work smarter not harder” I say why not “work harder and smarter”, but that’s just me.
De-pulping Method 1
Put your ginseng berries in buckets or plastic tubs. You will want to store these de-pulping buckets in a cool dark place so plan ahead. A basement or shed should work just fine. Start with a one inch layer of clean sand, you don’t want your sand so fine that the seeds cant breath at all.
Then place a single layer of ginseng berries on top of the sand. Repeat with the one inch layer of sand then berries until you are out of berries.
Some growers will cover these buckets and tubs damp towels to help keep the moisture levels up. Generally the berries decaying will provide enough moisture for the seeds during this process. You can scrape back the top layer of sand from time to time to check the process.
In approximately 6+ weeks the berries will have decayed exposing the seeds. You must not allow the seeds to sit to long at this stage, the seeds will dry out and potentially be lost.
At this point you will need to clean the sand away from the seeds and do a water test for bad seeds.
Most growers use a version of this. They will use washing boxes with screen bottoms. You simply dump the sand and seed mixture onto the wash boxes and hose off all the sand and reaming pulp.
Once clean you can immediately place the cleaned seeds in buckets or tubs filled with water. Seeds that are bad will float and can easily be scooped off with a strainer and discarded. Remove the seeds as soon as this is done to avoid over hydrating the seeds.
Return the damp seeds to the clean washing racks and allow them to dry in the shade. Again you don’t want the seeds to get to dry so check them by holding a hand full and making a fist. When you release, they should not stick together but they still appear moist.
There easy but time consuming, but patients is something a ginseng grower must poses!
De-pulping Method 2
This method of de-pulping is a lot faster and tends to get a bit messy. This may appeal to some of you folks out there.
You will fill a burlap bag, bucket or plastic tub roughly 1/3 full of berries. At this point you will need to mash the berries. You can mash them with your feet like wine makers used to do back in the day. No matter how you do this you will need to mix up the mush and continue to do this over the course of 6 to 10 days.
During this 6 to 10 days you will want to keep these berries covered and in a cool dark place. Again the basement or shed should do just fine.
Over the course of the 10 days fermentation will take its course and much of the pulp will designate exposing the seeds themselves. At this point you will want to wash the seeds the same way as method one.
Place all the seeds in a bucket of water. The remaining pulp and bad seeds will float and they can be strained off the top and discarded. You can repeat this process several times with clean water but be sure to work fast. You do not want to induce bloat and lose seeds from taking on to much water.