In order to prevent food from spoiling, drying has become the best way to store food and it has become a must-do for people of Jinhua city in East China's Zhejiang province before the Lunar New Year. Dry the food in the soft winter sun and slowly cure the hams and other meats, and sometime later they have a unique flavor.
Sun-dried is a word relating to feelings of warmth. It recalls the bright sunshine of childhood afternoons; the mother hanging out the family quilt in the yard; and at the end of the year, under the sun, a variety of dried vegetables, the fragrance of food and happiness in the wintertime sunshine.
Jinhua's ham producers get started curing the local ham after the start of winter. Jinhua ham, a well-known traditional local delicacy, goes through more than 40 processes, among which more than a week of drying outside in the winter sun is needed to mellow the ham, which transforms its shape, color and taste.
Dried New Year rice cakes
Every year when the Spring Festival approaches, each household in Jinhua will make or buy some rice cakes as sacrificial offerings and gifts, to bid farewell to the old year and usher in the New Year. At the end of each year, special spots for drying rice cakes in farmhouses or rice cake factories are easy to be seen in Jinhua.
For Jinhua natives, the sausages being dried by every household are a signal that the New Year is not far away. The taste of sausages is an essential part of the taste of the New Year, not only because it is delicious, but also because of its warmth.
For people in Jiangdong town in Jinhua, the most fascinating food should be the local hand-made rice noodles. The complicated process of making rice noodles, including rice selection, washing, soaking, grinding, squeezing, stirring, steaming, shaping and drying, has been passed on through generations.
As the sayings go: "Eating bacon in the New Year will make a good start in farming", "Eating bacon in the Spring Festival, (means) having a good time in the New Year", "Eating bacon in winter will warm your heart". We can see that bacon has a big place in people's hearts.
A string of sauced meat and sauced ducks seems to remind us that the Chinese New Year is on the horizon.
Radishes, pickles, dried bamboo shoots -- all kinds of vegetables are in the favorite dishes of Jinhua people. The dishes made of dried vegetables all have their own different tastes. After seeing these sun-dried veggies, we can feel Jinhua's sun-dried winter is full of happiness.
Noodles in Pujiang county of Jinhua are usually hung out on sunny days in the latter half of the year. The hair-thin noodles sway in the wind, making up beautiful sights in rural villages.
Sun-dried persimmons and sweet potatoes -- sweet, glutinous and chewy -- are the best snacks in winter, often evoking people’s childhood memories.