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Guangxi county boasts sea of sun-dried persimmons

China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-06 10:11

NANNING — Travelers on a serpentine two-way asphalt road winding through Pingle county, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, would assuredly be amazed by a visually stunning sea of glossy orange persimmons that blankets the backyards and rooftops of the locals.

"It's what we call the 'sun-drying' season for the signature produce of our county," said Li Guangshi, an agriculture expert and a go-to guy for persimmons in Pingle. "The process usually takes place between October and February the following year, which is also the harvest season for persimmons."

Persimmon production and processing are a vital way of life for many locals in Pingle, as it generated about 4.8 billion yuan ($675 million) in revenue for the county in 2023.

Official statistics show that the designated persimmon growing area has exceeded 10,667 hectares in Pingle, with an annual production yield of 550,000 metric tons.

Apart from the fresh fruit, Pingle is also a main production center for shibing, or dried persimmons, a saucer-like sweet coated with a fine frosting of natural sugar popular in Asia.

The small county, situated in the northern part of the region, possesses a favorable environment for growing and drying the fruit. Pingle cultivated six different cultivars of astringent and non-astringent persimmons. The non-astringent ones, which can be consumed when firm and crisp, are one of the most coveted fresh varieties in winter, while the astringent types are the ones that are normally to be processed into shibing.

"Wind and sun are crucial," said Li. "Northwesterly wind and strong sun rays during winter months are the absolute musts for turning the fresh fruit into quality shibing."

When making shibing, the freshly picked fruit needs to be washed, trimmed and peeled before getting thoroughly massaged to even out their shape and soften the fibers inside.

Over time, persimmons, fully covered with white ash of frosting, lose their original plumpness and become shrunken and slightly wrinkled and dark.

The locals also make full use of persimmons, using the discarded skins and tissues of the fruit from making shibing as fodder for the livestock.

In 2023, the county accommodated approximately 400 companies that recorded an annual sales of over 100 tons of shibing. The amount of shibing shipped from Pingle to places across the country and overseas reached 350,000 tonnes, raking in over 3 billion yuan in sales per year.


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