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Balloon Flower Roots

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[Anchor Lead]It seems that cool and crisp autumn weather has finally arrived. And while it may feel like the perfect time for outdoor activities, it’s during the change in seasons in which you’re most likely to catch a cold. Balloon flower roots are a common natural remedy here in Korea, and it’s harvest season right now. Let’s check it out.[Pkg]The field is dotted with purple blossoms. Koreans eat the root of this flower called balloon flower or bellflower. Balloon flower roots are crunchy and bitter. They can be eaten raw or incorporated into various dishes. The tiny roots are packed with nutrients.[Soundbite] Prof. Lee Hye-ran(Baewha Women's Univ.) : "The main ingredient of the roots is saponin which helps to expand blood vessels and lower blood pressure. It also lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The roots are also frequently used as a medicinal ingredient as it works to melt away phlegm which is a key symptom of respiratory diseases contracted during seasonal transition."The roots are rich in saponin as well as vitamins and minerals which boost our immune system. Balloon flower roots called Doraji in Korean are in the peak of harvest time these days. A tractor passes through and the white roots emerge from the crumbling soil. The roots have absorbed all their nutrients from the ground. The substance saponin is particularly abundant in the finer roots of doraji. Thus the more fine roots, the better. First we'll sample a taste of the roots just gathered from the field. The roots are cleaned and then seasoned with red chili-pepper paste and vinegar. A glass of the Korean rice wine makgeolli is the best accompaniment. It appears the day's work ends here.[Soundbite] Lee Suk-ja(Jeollanam-do Prov. Resident) : "It's soft and crunchy and not bitter. It's really good."For those who don't like the bitterness, there are ways to make this less so. Sprinkle some salt and sugar on the roots that have been cleaned. Add some water too and use your fingers

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