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Yang Mei Season 杨梅 -- The Chinese Bayberry

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Has anyone tried these? Where did you find them (what part of China)? How did you eat them? Did they measure up to your expectations?

 

I'm not sure whether they can be bought as far north as Beijing, though of course they could be trucked there or even flown up from the south. Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi produce lots of them. This fruit is more fragile and more difficult to handle than durable items like pears and apples. Even here, one never sees them in large cardboard boxes; they are transported in shallow crates or shallow woven baskets.

 

 

594329f6e852b_IMG_20170522_112911-Copy.thumb.jpg.7629b23511ed35904a21dceb7500b123.jpgAlong with longan fruit 龙眼 "dragon eye" these special tropical fruits really do say "early summer" loud and clear. Our mango 芒果 season is nearly over now, but we are getting durian 榴莲 and 山竹 shanzhu/mangosteen.

 

The 龙眼 which I see are usually refrigerated, or on a bed of ice, since they spoil easily. These have shown up in the supermarkets and some fruit stands, but not in the wet market. This suggests that they are brought in from much farther south, would guess Guangdong. I ate lots of them when I lived in Zhuhai 珠海。

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iekkim

Durian and Mangosteen! Absolutely love them! Have you tried Durian? I know plenty of people who dislike it because it's so pungent.

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abcdefg

I like durian, but in small amounts. Fortunately, one doesn't have to buy a whole durian here. For a few coins, you can buy a small bit, on a paper tray wrapped in plastic. The vendor supplies a couple large bamboo toothpicks so you don't have to use your fingers. You then finish eating it while still outdoors so that it does not stink up your house or ruin your fridge.

 

What I actually like better than durian here is 菠萝蜜 or jackfruit. They look something like durian on the outside, thick, spiky skin, and have sections and seeds much like durian, but are not quit as strong in their flavor. They are huge, much larger than durian, often oblong, and one fruit can weigh 25 or 30 kilos. Vendors walk around at this time of year with only two or three on a hand-drawn cart. They will cut off or carve out sections for you on demand, at the time you order, usually 5 Yuan at a whack.

 

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In far south Yunnan, such as Jinghong 景洪 in Xishuangbanna 西双版纳, I recall seeing signs at the airport and at bus stations forbidding durians on board, similar to the situation in Thailand and elsewhere further south (Malaysia and Indonesia.) Also sometimes in hotel lobbies of those regions.

 

594352fe8ae8b_noduriansign.thumb.JPG.764cea4f65fdfd829f88f1d9faedd7f4.JPG

 

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Alex_Hart

Nice post again, abc. 

 

I love 杨梅, and we've been eating a ridiculous amount for about 3 weeks now. In the beginning they were expensive and so we largely reached for pipas, but the price has plummeted and we're now buying a big mesh bag almost daily.

 

Have you made them into jam? I was just talking about that with my girlfriend, but I'm not sure I trust myself to try canning. 

 

I use the same method as you for rinsing. I do differ from you in that I can eat buckets of Durian and be unsatisfied - we had around 60 kuai worth of Durian last night (one whole Durian) and it was gone pretty fast.


Out of curiosity, what's next on the fruit calendar in China? High summer would be berries back in the US.

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abcdefg
2 hours ago, Alex_Hart said:

I love 杨梅, and we've been eating a ridiculous amount for about 3 weeks now.

 

I'm glad to see that someone here has tried them! Had been wondering. They are 10 Yuan per gongjin 公斤 in the market now, which is terrific. I have not tried making jam at home and don't really know how. It's so seldom I can find good bread, that I'm not sure it would be worth the effort.

 

2 hours ago, Alex_Hart said:

Out of curiosity, what's next on the fruit calendar in China?

 

For us in Kunming, the lychee season 荔枝 is starting. I tried a few yesterday and plan to go back for more tomorrow morning. Mangoes are just about gone, only a few still being shipped in from farther south, mainly Thailand. Yesterday I felt adventurous and put up a quart jar of half mango and half yangmei liqueur, with a dash of lime. It should be ready towards the end of August. 

 

And of course watermelon 西瓜 all summer long. In July we start getting cantaloupe 哈密瓜 from Qinghai and Xinjiang. Also grapes from there, northwest China. Yunnan has a few places that produce grapes and make wine, but the wines leave a lot to be desired.

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Alex_Hart

They're around the same price here, though I had bad luck with my last few purchases. The markets are a bit more expensive so I generally buy my fruit from the aunties and shushus who sit on the street outside of the market, often on one of those scooter-trucks that are so ubiquitous in China. While this generally means I get even tastier fruit for a lower price, the Yangmei are now soft. Whenever you touch them, bugs lift off in hordes. The ones in the market are refrigerated, and I haven't gotten to seeing if they've held up better. 

 

My girlfriend says that Zhejiangers freeze Yangmei and suck them like candies. Just put some in, will let you know.

 

Lychees just arrived here, matching your prediction! Last week, it was 杨梅 everywhere, and then yesterday there were scooter-trucks full of lychees and aunties diving over each other to grab cases of them.

 

Your 酒 sounds good! Are you generally a fan of 白酒 or is it only with the addition of the fruit?

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abcdefg
1 hour ago, Alex_Hart said:

Are you generally a fan of 白酒 or is it only with the addition of the fruit?

 

I avoid 白酒 like the plague except when I can make it palatable by the addition of sweetened fruit.

 

Have had some really ugly scenes when hosts have pressed it on me at banquets, unwilling to take no for an answer to their never-ending "bottoms-up" 干杯 challenges. Nearly came to blows late one night with the chief of police of Kaiyuan Town, who felt I was causing him to lose face. But that's another story for another time.

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Alex_Hart
6 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Have had some really ugly scenes when hosts have pressed it on me at banquets, unwilling to take no for an answer to their never-ending "bottoms-up" 干杯 challenges. Nearly came to blows late one night with the chief of police of Kaiyuan Town, who felt I was causing him to lose face. But that's another story for another time.

That is a story I have to hear. :clap

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Shelley

They look tasty, I like the fact that things go in and out of season, I think it makes you appreciate them more. I also dislike the unreasonable lengths and costs that some people go to to have thing out of season, for example here in the UK strawberries were a treat in the summer but now we have them nearly all year round so they get boring.

 

Our fruit of the moment it is the cherries in our garden. We have cherry trees, cooking apple, conference pears, and Victoria plums. Luckily they all fruit at different times or else I would be swamped by fruit needing to be dealt with.

 

So we start with the blossoms, beautiful and attractive to bees and insects. There is one point when all the trees are in blossom together and it looks amazing, the plum of course blossoms first, then the cherries and pears, followed a short time later by the apple which has delicate pink blossom. Very breifly there is a point at which they are out together and it is a treat for the eyes.

 

Blossom1.thumb.jpg.b4b26faaa65f58aa91fd7e9c4843555d.jpg

 

Then we have to wait for the fruit, slowly slowly fruit begins to appear. The next picture shows the cherries at about 3 weeks after the blossom and about one week to go to being picked.At this point we realised we were going to have a bumper crop, so I prepare all my preserving jars and stocked up on sugar and ingredients for pastry.

 

Cherries1.thumb.jpg.e67abc23e82b8c8227fd699aab0cb851.jpg

 

Cherries2.thumb.jpg.57c10d116290a9c0b33154af0df5cc2f.jpg

 

 

So the day came when picking started, some are ready earlier than others so it is an ongoing thing and we are still picking them today.

 

The next picture show cherries washed and sorted ready to be de-stalked for bottling.

1498074400314.thumb.jpg.8274cc3df6f75c821b56bcffc8b1ced6.jpg

 

I then put them in my preserving pan and cooked them a bit just enough to heat them up and produce some juice. I added a small amount of water and lots of sugar. Once they were hot enough, I took my jars out of the oven where they were heating up, everything needs to hot to ensure the jars create a vacuum seal. I then scooped the cherries out of the juice with a slotted spoon and filled the jars, I then quickly brought the juice to the boil added some more sugar and stirred until dissolved, I then topped up each jar up with the syrup, cleaned the rims and put the tops on. As they cooled down I was rewarded with a satisfying pop from each one as the vacuum was created. When they were cold, I wiped down the jars and labelled them.

 

IMG_20170624_121941.thumb.jpg.2b3e0ab8317710fab312dedaf4ae19a0.jpg

 

So now we have the first of this years crop in bottles, there will probably be at least twice as many more, plus as many pies as we can eat:shock:

I have also made ice cream for the first time this year with an ice cream maker, it was lovely, smooth tasty and no additives and certainly free from nuts. So cherry pie from our trees and home made ice cream is on the menu this summer.

 

The next picture is cherries ready to be stoned and made into pies.

IMG_20170624_122112.thumb.jpg.7f56eb25ad2665402ad53b67a9e69408.jpg

 

Soon it will be pears and plums, then later in August September it will be apples. so much yummy fruit to look forward to. If anyone is interested I could show the process for the other fruits as and when they are ready.

 

I hope you are all enjoying your own summer bounty.

 

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abcdefg

That looks and sounds delicious, @Shelley. Those branches are really loaded! Actually, the whole life cycle of these fruit trees is one of life's small miracles, from the pretty blossoms on the branches to the bounty of the ripe fruit. We have an early cherry season here, end of February and early March.

 

Many years ago, in central Texas, I had two peach trees in my back yard that produced a rich harvest, and so I ate, put up, and gave away so much great fruit that it spoiled me for life. I didn't know how to can the peaches, but I sliced and froze them in a sugar syrup, using special thick plastic freezer bags.

 

12 hours ago, Shelley said:

Soon it will be pears and plums, then later in August September it will be apples. so much yummy fruit to look forward to. If anyone is interested I could show the process for the other fruits as and when they are ready.

 

By all means, please do.

 

Here in Yunnan I've had the privilege of discovering so much tropical fruit that was nearly impossible to find back in the US, and I've learned that the seasons for most of them are quite short. So enjoying this or that when available has become one of those "seize the moment" life lessons. Blink twice and it's gone.

 

Wish I could drop by your estate for a slice of home-made cherry pie and a cup of English tea. Plus a scoop of ice cream with the pie, please.

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Alex_Hart

Looks amazing, Shelley! Very jealous. One of my students just gave me a giant bag of American cherries and it reminded me of the fruits I'm missing back home - New York strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are just coming into season so it's a pretty delicious time. Peaches come in late July/August, but mostly from farther south.

 

Agree that the seasonal nature of food is great. We have the same issue - I can get strawberries year round as the market rotates from NY to Canadian, then down to Mexico, Chile, etc. The imported ones never taste as good, but I still feel tempted to buy them. It makes the seasonal fruit feel less special. Back to seasonal crops here, feels good.

 

Have always been daunted by jarring fruits. Heard too many horror stories from an overly cautious grandmother. Finally jarred some a year ago but grandma asked me on a weekly basis whether I'd get botulism or e coli, etc. Something I need to learn. 

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Shelley

@abcdefg You are always very welcome:P A cup of tea and pie awaits you anytime, indeed any one who cares to visit is very welcome.

Do you think I should start a new post for each fruit or just add them here?

 

I will post some pictures of pie and ice cream just before we devour it:shock:

 

@Alex_Hart I worried about bottling too in the beginning, but as long as everything is clean when you start and fruit, bottles and syrup are piping hot when you do it you shouldn't have any problems. One of the biggest things is not to use any fruit that is bruised or mouldy, good fruit is the most important part of it. I wash, examine and sort the fruit carefully to ensure it is top notch.

Store the jars in cool dark place and examine them periodically to ensure nothing is leaking or something has gone bad.

And when you open the jar, if it doesn't go pop, be suspicious, examine the contents and if there is any mould or a vinegar or winey smell, then bin it. It will be fairly obvious if it is off. Check any bottle for these thing before you tuck in and it should be fine. People have been bottling things for centuries and surviving :P

 

 

 

 

 

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Alex_Hart

I know! But my grandma is one of those people who has to constantly look at you askance and make you question everything three times. I hope to try again soon, but my kitchen is rather tiny here, and I don't know if I have access to affordable jars. Would be nice to try a Yangmei jam.

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Alex_Hart

Another 杨梅 season! I've been waiting for these to hit the market for a while now. They arrived around 2 weeks ago but were going for ~70 kuai/近. A week ago, the price was down to 35. Today, the fruit seller had three different kinds of 杨梅, a 15 kuai/jin Fujianese, a 22 kuai from Yunnan and a 45 kuai/jin from Yunnan. She suggested I buy the middle one - best bang for the buck, and I devoured a huge bowl of them an hour later. Remembering this post, I saved another bowl for your 杨梅酒!

image.thumb.png.2781d1c3d439dab989c017e59b5019df.png

On 6/17/2017 at 12:05 PM, abcdefg said:

For us in Kunming, the lychee season 荔枝 is starting. I tried a few yesterday and plan to go back for more tomorrow morning. Mangoes are just about gone, only a few still being shipped in from farther south, mainly Thailand. Yesterday I felt adventurous and put up a quart jar of half mango and half yangmei liqueur, with a dash of lime. It should be ready towards the end of August. 

 

How did this end up? 

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abcdefg

Yours looks great! Glad you got a jump on the season. Hard to go wrong with this fine stuff. I'm sure it won't go to waste!

 

Mine ended up fine last summer. Lots of good sipping pleasure! I made a quart jar of plain yangmei wine 杨梅酒 and another of half yangmei and half mango. Used 500 ml of alcohol in each. The plain yangmei batch was head and shoulders better than the mixed one. I won't repeat the combo. 

 

My two jars of home made wine came off the "production line" in the middle of June last year (I wrote the date on the side of the bottles.) I finished drinking them last week, middle of May. 

 

I plan to make another batch of yangmei wine in a week or ten days, when our season hits its peak.  Meanwhile, I began another batch of "Middle Kingdom Limoncello" a couple days ago. Had used all of last year's up and wanted some more. This time around, I'm going to try letting it steep longer during phase one, when the lemon peel and baijiu 白酒 stand together, before adding sweetening ingredients. Last year I let it stand one week; this year I will aim for one month. See if that produces any flavor improvement. I used 8 large lemons and 4 large oranges with one liter of Er Guo Tou 二锅头 52 percent. 

 

318549238_IMG_4576-65.thumb.jpg.717326c488069b94557995ff5ee53838.jpg

 

Sure did enjoy having it around and serving it in small increments to dinner guests after the meal. 

 

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/55547-middle-kingdom-limoncello/?tab=comments#comment-428178 

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Alex_Hart

Looks great, abc. I may get myself a big jug like yours and make another batch in a week if the 杨梅 keep getting better. Seems like a waste not to consume them while they're here!

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abcdefg

The jug is 2.3 liters, an odd size. Bought it from Walmart for 12 Yuan. 

 

Local friend told me the yangmei 杨梅 that are from the south of Yunnan (Honghe Zhou 红河州) will be sweeter in about a week. She said the price won't come down much, but the quality will improve over the next couple weeks. Then it will rapidly decline. 

 

 

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Alex_Hart

I tasted the yangmeijiu杨梅酒 for the first time tonight. Yum! It still has a hint of that 白酒 flavor in the background, but it's gone from being an unpleasant attack on the senses to playing second fiddle to the sweetness of the yangmei. The Yangmei's flavor also seems to have changed; it lost some of that tartness that was there when the fruit was eaten fresh and has approached something like cherry flavored grape juice. The strength of the alcohol serves well to balance it so that it doesn't become cloyingly sweet. The color is also very appealing - a light pink, but still clear.

 

Cheers for getting me to try this @abcdefg, I'm not sure I would have tried it without your post as I drink enough 白酒 when visiting friends (or actually, girlfriend's father) to satisfy any urges I might have (or, rather, will never have!). I'm kind of worried about storing this for a long period of time, but I think it would be really great as a winter beverage. It brings back memories of some 梅子酒 I sipped over a coal brazier in Lijiang.

1396805413_WeChatImage_20180609195058.thumb.jpg.fac6319519f468b30ac1da8ae7788301.jpg

Edited by Alex_Hart
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abcdefg

Glad you tried it, @Alex_Hart-- and glad you liked it too. 

 

12 hours ago, Alex_Hart said:

I'm kind of worried about storing this for a long period of time, but I think it would be really great as a winter beverage.

 

I kept some of last summer's batch for nearly one whole year without it going bad. (Just on a shelf; not in the refrigerator.) 

 

This year I put in the yellow peel of one lemon (no white pith) to counterbalance some of the sweetness. Have not tasted it yet; plan to let it stand one month before opening and sampling. When I do get around to drinking the liqueur, I also eat the marinated fruit. 

IMG_4846 - 65 small.jpg

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