THE peaches in Jinshan District are ripe and ready for being plucked.
The annual Peento Peach Festival is under way in the district’s Luxiang Town, running through the middle August.
These small peento peaches (pantao), funny-looking and “squashed,” are actually the fruit of immortality grown by the Heavenly Queen Mother in Chinese mythology. They are “peachy” in taste, sweet and juicy, with a sunken center and petite pit.
This year, thanks to enough rain and proper temperatures, there is a bumper crop of peento peaches. The total yield is estimated to exceed 4,000 tons, an increase of 40 percent over last year. The peaches are also bigger, with 90 percent of them weighing more than 150 grams, and sweeter than the previous year, with fructose content reaching 15 (the average is around 11 to 12).
It will cost 80 yuan (US$13) for a gift package of eight peaches (each weighing about 190 grams) and 70 yuan for a family package of 12 peaches (each weighing about 160 grams).
Luxiang is about an hour’s drive from downtown Shanghai, and visitors are welcome to stop along the road at the orchards and pick fruit. Peach growers will be on hand to help “one-day farmers” select and carefully pick the ripe fruit.
The peach is ripe if the green color has completely faded and the flesh turns white or yellow, depending on the variety.
Peaches can be picked with a slight twist but the twig itself should not be broken or damaged, or the whole tree’s peach production can be affected next year.
The better-quality peaches are symmetrically shaped, smooth and without coarse fiber and easy to peel. Once there, visitors can not only pick peaches but also have authentic home-cooked meals at farmers’ eateries.
Those who don’t want to drive to the suburbs can buy Jinshan peento peaches in downtown markets. This summer the peaches will be offered in supermarkets, communities, enterprises and the Internet.
Citizens can buy this juicy fruit in almost 240 supermarkets of the Shanghai Bailian Group and nine downtown shopping plazas such as Jiuguang Department Store and the Parkson on Huaihai Road.
From today until August 15, some of the peaches are on display at the Cultural Square of Tianlin Community in Xuhui District.
During the festival in Jinshan, visitors are encouraged to bring their cameras to catch the idyllic countryside beauty of Luxiang. In 2011, China’s Trademark Office designated Jinshan Peento as a Jinshan specialty fruit to set it apart from other peento peaches.
Growing peaches has been a part of Luxiang’s economy for more than three decades. It’s China’s largest peento cultivation area and covers 667 hectares. The Peento Peach Farmers’ Association has more than 330 members. In addition to being the hometown of peento peach, the town has also become a base of grapes, blueberries, melons, pitaya fruit and strawberries, growing into the city’s southwestern backyard.