Local and imported fruits in China

When we first arrived in China, shopping for fruits was one of my priorities because my tot LOVED bananas then.

We could find bananas (imported from Thailand), papaya (the Hawaiian type), oranges, grapes and apples (imported from the United States) watermelon and kiwi fruit (imported from Australia) in the supermarket.

But the real joy is finding the well-stocked fruit stalls at the market. Why? I found that they had more variety, they were fresher and of course, a lot cheaper.

For the Chinese, fruits play a huge role in their diet especially where the seasons are concerned. When my tot and I kept falling sick at the turn of the seasons, some kind Chinese friends advised us to “follow the fruits”.

Basically, we should consume the local fruits in season because the fruits would provide the necessary fluids to balance the “yin” and “yang” of our bodies.

Hmm…that made sense because I recall that we were eating mostly imported fruits (ones we were familiar with) e.g. bananas, grapes, papaya, apples, oranges and watermelons.

Local Fruits

In the picture below (taken during autumn), you can see local bananas, watermelons (dark green skin – yellow fruit; stripey skin – red fruit), pears (shui qing li), which we have tried.

local-fruits-in-china
We have not tried the local pineapples (called buo luo rather than huang li), which are famed for being very, very sweet but nobody’s a fan in our family…

The mangoes are imported from the Philippines, I think.  I’ve not tried the bright, yellow fruit as I’ve no idea what they are!

Imported Fruits

Other than grapes, apples and grapes (from the US) you can see an array of fruits imported from Asian countries:

  • Thailand – rose apples and durian; why isn’t Malaysia exporting its durians to China???
  • Vietnam – dragon fruit;
  • Malaysia – mangosteens (I can’t confirm this until I find out if mangosteens are grown in other Asian countries)

local-and-imported-fruits-southern-china

Bananas – local and imported >_<

We were buying Dole brand bananas (from the Philippines) for a long time and Hubby even joked that our tot was going to eat us out of a house and home because we had to buy a comb of bananas every 2 days!

dole-bananas-from-philippines-in-china
Dole bananas are a large, firm variety – a comb was selling at about RMB15-16. Due to its high price, only expats or the more affluent Chinese bought them…

I was quite happy to find the local bananas at the fresh market – strange why they are not sold in the supermarkets. The local bananas are what we’d call pisang awak (sounds awful translated into English because it literally means “your banana!”).

pisang-awak-local-bananas-in-southern-china
A comb of local bananas sells for only RMB6-7 and I actually prefer them because my stomach didn’t feel as bloated after consuming them.

Dragon fruit from Vietnam

Because my tot loves dragon fruit (pitaya), regardless whether its the white or red variety, I frequently buy this fruit from the market. I was such a fan of this fruit that the seller asked if I was a Vietnamese! LOL

red-dragonfruit-southern-china

Personally, I prefer eating the white dragon fruit because it’s less sweet. Plus, there’s no red colouring. Did you know that there’s yellow dragon fruit too?

Anyway, after hearing that the tiny seeds of the dragon fruit remain in your guts long after you consume them, I’ve limited the tot’s intake…

Coming from a tropical country, we had some fun during autumn, winter and spring trying out some of the local and imported fruits.

Just Peachy

Mmm…they start appearing in summer (July) and are pretty much available right up till the beginning of winter (December).

With the help of my friendly fruit grocer, I learned that there were “soft” (ruan) and “crunchy” (qui? cui?) types. We prefer the soft variety and of course, the sweeter the better.

peaches-autumn-southern-china
Peaches shown above are the average peaches – after a while, I find that there is a slightly bitter aftertaste after the intial sweetness.

There is another reddish type with a reddish flesh. They are quite OK but you have to get really sweet ones to enjoy – they tend to become mushy too if they are too ripe.

The premium peach is the “shui mi tao” from Beijing! I think the phrase “peaches and cream” come from such peaches because they are a lovely peaches-and-cream colour, quite large (sits nicely in the palm of my hand) and perfectly sweet with a white flesh.

If you visit Beijing during the late autumn and early winter, you’ll find scores and scores of hawkers selling them by the roadside.

Cherry, cherry lady

Cherries are imported from the US but we suspect that some may be grown locally because the price varies between RMB15-45 per jin. For the record, I’ve not been that crazy to pay RMB45!

Called “yin tao“, Hubby and I enjoy eating the ripe, sweet cherries. The tot? He claims to like them too but will only suck on a single cherry like a lollipop.

imported-cherries-in-china

Fresh dates olives 

Olives Fresh dates make their appearance early in the summer and even though I’ve seen them for a while, I didn’t realize they were olives.

One day, one of my favourite fruit stalls (wo-manned by two sisters) urged me to try one. I was very, very reluctant but was delighted to find that it’s crunchy and sweet!

fresh-olives-in-southern-china-summer
I bought a bunch to eat and enjoyed munching on them as a healthy snack. If you leave them outside for a day or two, you’ll find that they turn brown and slowly start to shrink.

However, they are not as smooth as the olives you’d find in a martini

Not a mango, not a ciku, it’s a pi pa!

Initially, I thought these are mangoes but again, my favourite sisters peeled one off for me to try. These fruits show up at the end of Spring when the days start to turn warm.

This year, I developed a nasty phlegm and was asked to eat these pi pa, which would help to reduce it. I think they really do help to reduce phlegm.

pi-pa-late-spring-china
If you see this fruit during your visit to China or elsewhere (I think they could be exported), be sure to choose orange-y ones as they are and sweeter. Simply peel off the skin using your fingers and take a bite into the firm flesh. What remains are kidney-bean sized seeds.

We love strawberries

Strawberries are seen here and there during the cold months of December to January – we just LOVED eating them when they are in season because they are SO, SO, SO big, juicy and CHEAP. We can get a big bunch of big, juicy, sweet ones for about RMB10-12!

fresh-strawberries-with-chocolate-fondue
My fussy tot will only eat the *really sweet* ones and even so, after many, many threats. I once made a chocolate fondue for us to dip the strawberries in – guess what, the tot nibbled off all the chocolate and just kept dipping the SAME strawberry into the chocolate sauce!

I give up sometimes…

Hope you’re having a fruity Friday 🙂

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  • a-moms-diary Link

    That’s a whole lot of interesting Chinese fruits. There’s a lot of fruits that YY doesn’t like too, and these past few weeks, she’s even staying away from her once favourite guava and rose apples. Headache!!

  • Paik Ling Link

    Wow you get a whole lot of variety of fruits over there! The yang meis really do look like lychees (which I can swallow by the buckets!). You did not mention the taste or whether they are sweet?

  • Kit Link

    A Mom’s Diary – Hehehe…I can’t wait to introduce him to durian! He doesn’t like mangosteens, mango or anything that is (s)melly 😛 He only loves papaya, watermelon, SWEET peaches, SWEET grapes, fragrant pears and prunes.

    Paik Ling – Ya, they look like lychees but the texture is ‘bristly’. It’s got a sweetish-sourish taste. I tend to go for the really ripe ones because I don’t like sour stuff. They can’t keep long though coz they bleed when the bristles get squashed…

  • syn Link

    he sure loves bananas…doesnt he gets fed up eating them daily? rye li loves strawberries, even sour ones. she doesn’t even twinge to the sourness unlike us adults. it’s very expensive to have them everyday though.

    btw, the olives looks like fresh dates too.

    and the yellowy fruit looks like rock melon equivalent? wld love to try the yang mei!

    Kit: Oh gosh, he doesn’t eat them everyday LOL Bananas just one of the fruits still on his “Ok, will eat” list! You guys are gonna love China then if Rye Li loves strawberries…I find more fruits to try during the cold seasons.

  • whoisbaby Link

    i agree with syn nee, i dun think those are fresh olive. i think they are fresh red dates. my mil has a bush of that in her backyard and i love it too. it is crunchy and very sweet but sometimes a tiny bit tarty. like mini granny smith apples!

    Kit: Hmm…they are dates, eh? I was told by an ‘ang moh’ that they are olives. And you have a bush at your MIL’s backyard? Must be fun when they are in season! I love them…

  • Shooi Link

    I learnt from a durian farm owner that the Thai durians were plucked off the trees while they were still unripe. Then soaked in chemical solutions to ripen the flesh inside. That’s why they have no smell and can be exported.

    He told me that no insects/ animals (rats/ squirrel) will eat those chemical soaked durians.

    Meanwhile, malaysian durians are left on the tree to ripe & drop on their own. That’s y they are full of flavor & smell and thus can’t be exported.

    Writing this makes me crave for durians sommo, and i have had loads this season. Gotta grab sommo b4 the season is over, which is gonna be this week or next.

    Kit: Ohh…that’s why Malaysian durians aren’t found anywherelah. I can tell you that the fresh durians, durian ice-cream and any durian dessert available here is NOTHING compared to what we have in Malaysia. We don’t even bother buying any durian-anything and would rather wait till we get home LOL

  • mommy to chumsy Link

    wow, so many different kind of fruits and they are not very expensive too 😀 i didn’t know about the seeds of the dragon fruit will remain in the guts. I buy that a lot for Ashley as they are good for bowel movement and full of vit. C. Guess i better limit her intake too 🙁

  • BoeyJoey Link

    When I went to Beijing many years ago, I liked the fresh olives too (I thought they are fresh red dates?). I bought quite a lot and brought them back to Malaysia… but they got quite ripe by the time I reached home, and were not so nice anymore 🙁

  • Kit Link

    Mommy to Chumsy – Yeah, the fruits here are pretty interesting. It’s really too bad what I heard about the dragon fruit seed. My tot loves it too so I think I’ll do a bit of search on this to confirm, ok?

    BoeyJoey – Ok, I surrender, they are dates! Ya, they are not nice when ripe…wei, we’re not supposed to bring in fresh fruitslah. We must protect our own agriculture. Don’t be naughty next time ok? 😉

  • Poster Link

    wow, you really had a good china experience! I just stayed in Shanghai for 2 years, I am afraid of dirt and traveling in crowded trains, so I did not travel.

    However, I did not work the markets like you. I mean there are fruit shops everywhere, but they are all EXACTLY the same. And they all have the same few varieties. I guess some markets are different! You did a good job in finding them! 🙂

    However I never cared enough to find out, just checked like 5-10 markets and I never want to go there again.

    In the beginning of my 2 years I was, of course, also super excited. I ate probably 50 mangos! haha so delicious. But after 1 year I started to fall into mischief and did not trust the mainland chinese with anything anymore. The last 1/2 year I only commuted with taxi (since I did not like to hear the shouting and spitting anymore) and did only eat in western restaurants, only eating imported goods, and only off hours, to make sure I don’t see any mainland chinese ppl eating. so disgusting!

    Then, I took the common advice: if you don’t like it, you can leave. I did! Ha! 🙂 So happy!

  • Kit Link

    Nice to meet you! It’s great to meet someone else who has been down the same road as me 😀

    I know what you mean about going “imported” or “Western”: I have done that sometimes too when I get really FED-UP with being here.

    I’m terribly homesick now coz one of my favourite cafes that serves nice Western food and plays great jazz music has CLOSED DOWN 🙁

    I can’t wait for the summer break but of course, we’ll need to get through the sweltering heat first…

    Sorry for the gloomy reply but the weather’s awful now…

  • Tina Link

    Oh, you can find more delicious fruits in my country, Vietnam. 🙂

  • Kit Link

    Tina – I’d love to know all about the fruits from Vietnam. Do share! I hope that one day I can visit Vietnam and enjoy all the fruits and foods there.

  • Margo Link

    Pi Pa is grown in California also. It isn’t a fruit that is sold commercially, but it is in many people’s yards. It is called Loquat.

  • Margo – Thanks for sharing that useful bit. I’d always thought loquats were only available in Asia. Learning quite a lot here about fruits 🙂