Creative varieties bring nice and cool summer snacks
Fruit king contest
Published: May 30, 2024 08:25 PM
As the 36th Beijing Daxing Watermelon Festival concluded on Tuesday, fruit-related topics trended online. This summer, Chinese citizens have found the markets offering a particularly large array of fruits and fruit-based products. From DIY fruit ice cream to cooked fruit, netizens seem to enjoy showing off their favorite fruit-based food on social media platforms. 

In an exhibition hall of Farmer Song's Watermelon King in Panggezhuang, Daxing district, Beijing, a child enjoys a 66.22-kilogram giant watermelon. Photo: VCG

In an exhibition hall of Farmer Song's Watermelon King in Panggezhuang, Daxing district, Beijing, a child enjoys a 66.22-kilogram giant watermelon. Photo: VCG

In the year 2024, the watermelon grown by farmer Xie Zhengjiang from Panggezhuang township in Daxing won the title of "Watermelon King" with a weight of 89 kilograms. Thanks to the win, the topic "Unlocking epic ways to enjoy watermelon" immediately went viral, with creative watermelon dishes such as mashed watermelon, crispy watermelon, and watermelon ice dumplings sweeping the internet.

Beijing's Daxing is known as the "Hometown of Watermelons in China," and watermelons from Panggezhuang township (Panggezhuang watermelons) in Daxing have long been a trusted brand for Beijing residents, as the history of watermelon cultivation in Panggezhuang dates back to the Taiping era of the Liao Dynasty (916-1125).

Le, a well-known melon farmer and seller from the Panggezhuang Watermelon Picking Garden told the Global Times that Daxing watermelons are famous for their thin skins, crispiness, sweetness, and juiciness. Additionally, the brand effect of Panggezhuang has further enhanced consumers' love for watermelons. Each year, Panggezhuang hosts a watermelon competition to select the largest and best-tasting watermelons.

"The fame of Panggezhuang watermelons is largely due to their crispiness and sweetness. As fruit farmers, we have instruments to measure sweetness, and authentic Panggezhuang watermelons boast a minimum sweetness level of 12, while ordinary watermelons on the market often have a sweetness level below 11," said Le.

China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs recently announced that "Xuan Cai" small watermelons, a self-developed variety of Beijing, have matured and hit the market. These watermelons come in various colors such as green, black, and yellow, and cutting them open is like opening a blind box, revealing different colors and tastes inside. In addition to the common green rind with red flesh, there are also watermelons presenting a yellow rind with red flesh, a green rind with yellow flesh, and even rainbow-colored watermelons with red and yellow stripes.

Red bayberries from Jiangsu Province Photo: VCG

Red bayberries from Jiangsu Province Photo: VCG

Another candidate to the throne

Recently, durians have been hitting the market in large quantities, and many people prefer buying whole durians over pre-packaged durian flesh to enjoy the excitement of "opening a blind box," a trend gone viral on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. The topic "Durian Blind Box" has garnered more than 6 billion views and many durian enthusiasts film themselves opening durians and share their experiences of getting "bountiful durians."

Durian is known as the "king of fruits" and is widely planted in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand. The continuously dropping prices of the durian have sparked widespread discussion online, keeping related topics trending. In the past two months, durian products like durian puffs, durian pudding, durian cheesecake, and durian pizza have also maintained high popularity.

Durians entered their peak season in May. Thanks to more import volume, the prices plummeted from 30 yuan (4.5 dollar) per kilogram to 17 yuan per kilogram within a month, allowing durian lovers to easily achieve "durian freedom" by buying as much as they'd like to. 

Beyond its sweet taste and soft consistency, young consumers find the opening of durian fruits visually satisfying.

A user commented on Weibo, a Chinese social platform: "I've recently become addicted to buying durian. Whether I eat it or not, it doesn't matter; it's all about opening it. If I get a lot of flesh, I feel very lucky, and it makes my whole day."

Preparing favorites

While in South China, netizens recently discovered a new way to kill time during the long summer nights: cooking their favorite fruits, in search of the best way to prepare them. 

Once red bayberry hits the market, netizens started making DIY ice cream, which is an interesting way to have a cool summer, without heavy diets. 

On Xiaohongshu, a popular Chinese social media platform, a netizen nicknamed wanwei or "evening taste," posted a video clip of himself cooking barbecue using beef and red bayberry, pineapple and bell peppers. 

Ruanmihu, another Xiaohongshu user was generous enough to share her recipe for the bayberry ice cream, which is rather easy to follow. 

Lychees have also been involved in the trend, with creative lychee recipes trending online. Lychee sparkling water has become highly popular on Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok), with many influencers following suit. Other popular lychee products include frozen lychees, lychee fruit wine, and lychee milk pudding.

Some netizens try mixing it with fruit juice. Putting bayberry, lychee and lemon together, they discovered the most popular flavor of this summer. 

"Frozen lychees with red bean paste can be stored for a month. Peel and core the lychees, stuff them with red bean paste and put them in the freezer. They can be eaten like ice balls. They are nutritious and delicious, a perfect summer snack!" A blogger shared on social media.

Additionally, fruits have been so dominating that some diners have included pineapple into the ingredients for cooking rice. This summer has witnessed the ascent of numerous fruits vying for the title of summer royalty. However, it's ultimately the consumers who wield the power to anoint which fruits will reign supreme in the market, thereby driving sales, production, and creativity.