The lotus is certainly one of the most meaningful and symbolic plants in the world. It is the most sacred flower for Buddhists and admired throughout Asia, and the “water lilly” is also popular in gardens in the West. Since the beautiful lotus flower springs up from muddy and challenging surroundings, the lotus became a symbol of hope and transcendence. The lotus is also a sign of wealth, knowledge, purity and things achieved through adversity and challenge.
What we at Good Roots care most about is the root of the lotus of course…
The lotus root is embedded in the mud or silt at the bottom of the pond. The lotus root is a “rhizome,” meaning the root grows horizontally as a line of interconnected root stubs connected by “nodes.” So when you are viewing raw lotus root in the food store, you are actually seeing one root stub (internode) of many interconnected internodes that feed the lotus flower. For freshness and transport purposes, we receive our lotus root as connected internodes.
So the first step in our preparation process at Good Roots is separating the internodes by cutting through each node so the internodes/stubs can be sliced. Slicing is a very important process itself with the blade, chip thickness, and slice temperature as important variables to get right since the rest of the cooking processes are tuned around a specific sliced chip parameters.
The lotus root in the wild has a number of amazing capabilities. The root has the ability to extract and filter nutrients, but its ability to store starch, proteins, and other nutrients is something unique to the lotus root and other “tuber” vegetables (eg. potatoes). The lotus roots has extremely high water content and very high starch content as well. So a lot of our process is focused on extracting water from sliced lotus and converting that starch to sweetness.
We developed a process to remove water from the root so that the starches compress into each other to form sugars and a mild sweet taste. The water has to be removed to a critical point to compress the starches, substitute our healthy bran oil for some of the displaced water, and doing all of this without completely dehydrating the chip. These processes are a balancing act and getting these process wrong may leave you either with burnt & brittle chips or leave you with hollow colored & tastless chips. At Good Roots, we achieve a tasty, attractive, and durable chip through a number of controlled heating and cooling process deliberately tested and proven to achieve a gold color, fibrous chew, and durable chip that doesn’t crumble and curl.
The lotus root’s chemistry is delicate and changes somewhat throughout the year, which makes it traditionally hard to manage in your kitchen. Even the storage of the root can present challenges given the high water content of the vegetable. At Good Roots we have given this very unique vegetable our attention and enthusiasm, but we have also “scienced” the heck out of it to come up with processes that work consistently at scale! We’ve done a lot of research & experimentation and continue to tune our recipe so that our chip appeals to your senses. For your mouth, we go for that unique taste and fibrous chew. For your eyes, we strive for that golden chip color and strive to minimize curls. For you touch, we want to avoid “crumblage” and present a crispy snap. Rest assured we put a lot of love and energy into those chips – and we do it because of all of your wonderful support!
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