LEARNING TO PROCESS ROOT CROPS FOR MEDICINAL HERB MANUFACTURERS

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Root crops are harder to process than leafy crops, mainly because of the appearance needed by the manufacturers or the health food shops. Manufacturers are not so fussy, but when the final product is to be displayed in a package or glass jar it needs to look right.
So you need to ask what form the herb roots need to be in. Look at the root as it comes from the soil. Some are white to a creamy colour like Echinacea purpurea, and some are a darker colour like Echinacea angustifolia roots. The need to be dried nearly to the same colour.

 

Then you need to look at the types of root systems. Valerian roots have fibrous roots and Marshmallow roots are crown type. There are lots of different types, When processing large types of root systems the general rule is to dry whole, then cut. But when it comes to large Burdock type roots then they are better split then dried. The general appearance of the root will tell you what needs to be done.
Using a chaffcutter to dice the roots is about the best way to handle all root crops. The pieces can be anywhere between a centimetre to 5 centimetres in length.
This presents the crop in a saleable condition.
If roots are to be milled to a fine particle size, the crop looses all its appearance. Hammer milling with a large type screen will not get even pieces like chaff cutting . There will still be a large amount of powder from the fast flying hammers.
So processing root crops definitly needs a Chaffcutter for cutting and a drier for dehydration. The chaffcutter can be acquired from just about any second hand farm machinery dealer, but a drier has to be carefully thought about.

ECHINACEA ANGUSTIFOLIA CROP STANTHORPE QLD JUNE 2000

ECHINACEA ANGUSTIFOLIA CROP