"Fuping persimmon, the best in the world"
"Actually, the craft of making persimmon cakes in Fuping already has a thousand years of tradition. In ancient times, when people found out that fresh persimmon could be made into cakes, they not only discovered that the cakes could be preserved for a very long time, but they also tasted that the cakes were very sweet, soft and fragrant. As a result they started on a long path of development and improvement of the craft of making dried persimmon cakes. The craft of making persimmon cakes arrived at full maturity in the Ming dynasty. Again and again, the cakes were selected as a tribute gift to the emperor. Now, Fuping persimmon cakes are sold in Japan, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, Canada and other countries. The ancient craftsmanship and the outstanding quality of the fresh persimmon are inextricably linked to the quality of the product."
"Frosting or how to achieve the true Fuping taste"
"The reason why we gave our persimmon cakes 'ancient persimmon' as a brand name, is mainly based on the complex craft of making the persimmon cakes. The moment to harvest the fresh persimmon is strictly dictated by the season and the weather. Then the persimmons are peeled, and suspended to dry in the sun. Then they are pinched to the right form and frosted. Only through all these processes, the persimmon cake can arrive at the consumer. It is a story that is embedded into every persimmon," says Ms. Hu with a smile.
"When you briefly explain the manufacturing process of the Fuping persimmon cakes, you find that it is through the frosting process that the cake achieves its true taste. First of all, we only select the persimmons for harvest after Shuangjiang in the lunar calendar, which corresponds with some time between October 23 and November 6. It is only after Shuangjiang that the persimmons are completely ripe and they reach the highest sugar content. This is the most important determinant of the taste of the cakes. After the harvest, we cut out a small hook-like opening on the top of the persimmon so they can be suspended easily."
"The next step is to peel the persimmons. Before, we used to do all the peeling manually, at a great cost of time. But then we invented a peeling machine. Not only does the machine reach high production standards, but it also operates in a very hygienic way."
"After peeling the persimmons, they are suspended in the sun. This is different from the flat drying done in the Guangxi region. The Fuping persimmon cakes are mainly dried by the method of suspended sun-drying in the air. In the past, we used a rope to suspend the persimmons, but now we use a special drying rack with crosses. The production cost may have increased, but the cross-shaped racks improve the drying process through contact with the air. That way the persimmon becomes a better cake faster."
"When the persimmon becomes wrinkled, we still have to knead it into shape. This has two main functions. Firstly, this makes the persimmon lose water faster. Secondly, it helps to knead out the inner part of the persimmon. The fruit flesh that remains is of the same quality. The shape and the taste are both better."
"The last step is waiting for the persimmons to be frosted over. Fuping persimmon cakes use natural frosting. After the persimmon cakes come from the rack, we look for a dry, cold and well ventilated place to store the cakes. We wait until the sugars and grape sugars inside the persimmons slowly seep out from the persimmon's surface and crystallise in the cold to form a frost layer. The longer the persimmons are stored, the thicker the frost becomes. Since the Japanese and Korean market don't like the frosting, we also sell a part of the persimmon cakes before the frosting stage."
"Spotting the trademarks of Xidada Village persimmon cakes"
"There are many persimmon products on the market lately, but the quality is as diverse as the products themselves. Some sellers even use powder to simulate the frosting on the persimmons. Whoever wants to buy real Fuping persimmon cakes, can distinguish them by their shape and colour. First of all, most of the Fuping persimmon cakes are suspended cakes, so they have an oval shape. Secondly, the stem and leaves of the persimmons from the Fuping cakes are round on top and they bulk out a little in the middle. This special type of leaves and stem are unique to the Fuping persimmons. When it comes to colour, Fuping persimmon cakes are red and translucent. After frosting, they are white on the outside and translucent red inside. The peel is fragile and soft, freshly sweet and fragrant. It can be summed up in four words: soft, mellow, big and sweet."
"Even though persimmons are extensively used as fresh products, the persimmon cakes naturally have a very high nutritional value. The organic acids in the persimmon cakes also have a good influence on the digestion and they improve the appetite. The frosting mainly consists of manitol, glucose, fructose and sucrose. These are good against a bad, dry cough and irritated lungs. So they are very useful as food for autumn and winter."