Legend has it that fruit vinegar, now a popular Chinese snack, was first created during the Tang Dynasty by Yang Guifei, a beloved consort of Emperor Xuanzong. Yang loved to eat lychee fruit. Whenever they were ripe, the emperor would order some to be sent by horse from Southern China to their palace in the north. But during the lychee off-seasons, his dear Yang still longed for them. What could be done? Clever royal chefs came up with a lychee-infused vinegar drink that preserved the juicy white orbs until the horses could deliver a fresh harvest.
Fruit vinegar is rich in pectin, vitamins, organic acids, and other nutrients. It can help balance metabolism*, decrease constipation, enhance immunity, and dispel fatigue. It helps relieve internal heat and fever, and restores a healthy glow to the skin. If consumed daily, it can help with weight loss.
Feel free to vinegar any favourite fruit. Here we’ve made plum and grape vinegar. The ratio of fruit, rice vinegar and crystal sugar is 1:1:1. If the fruit is very sweet, you can reduce the amount of crystal sugar by 10 to 30 percent.
1. Wash and dry fruit, remove stems, and place in a stone crock or glass jar (no
plastic or metal). Make sure the fruit and container are dry.
2. Add equal parts rice vinegar and crystal sugar. Do not stir; let the sugar dissolve slowly.
3. The process will produce gas during the first two weeks, so keep the lid loose to allow the gas to escape. The vinegar will inhibit bacterial growth.
4. Let stand in a cool place.
5. After a week, stir with a clean stick or shake the jar to dissolve the remaining sugar.
6. After three months, your treat is ready. Pour a bit into a glass, and dilute with five times as much water. This makes a pleasant drink, something akin to lemonade. You can add honey, juice or ice if you wish. If the lid is closed tightly, the tangy concoction can last for quite some time.
photos by Hsuyi Shih