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Seasonal fruit in Southern China

I was in China (mainly Guangxi and Yunnan) last year in May and June, and I enjoyed lots of different fruits. I'm going back this year (in July and August) and I'm trying to figure out what fruits are going to be in season, and what I can expect to find (particularly in Beijing and Guangxi). Will there be big differences in what's available?

Does anybody happen to know more about the growing season in China for the following fruits and if/when they will be in their prime while I'm there?

When I was there in May/June, the main fruits in season that were for sale in Guangxi seemed to be:

Chinese bayberries
Mangosteen
Watermelon
Pineapple

But I am curious about the growing seasons for the following fruits in particular:

Starfruit
Mangosteen
Lychee
Mangoes
Peaches/Plums

Thanks!
Dave MP

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  1. I'm in Taiwan, which latitude wise is in between. Lychee season is on now, followed by longans. Mangos are starting, and will carry through the summer, as will pineapple. Watermelon and guava have long seasons, so we see those most of the year, and we don't get peaches and plums at all.

    1. I have bought mangosteens from Thailand in Hong Kong and Chinese ones in Shanghai in May. Starfruit seems to be year-round. Haven't seen peaches or plums. What you really should try is strawberries - April/May - they are wonderful in China, they actually taste of strawberries!

      1. Just got back from China and sadly can't help you with your question, but would like to ask one of my own.

        When I was down in Guangxi and also Shanghai we were eating a small, tart fruit with pit. We found them in reds and purples. Pebbled, edible skin. They were described as ya mei (sp?). Any idea what they were other than tasty?

        7 Replies
          1. re: buttertart

            Thanks! I looked into it a little more. It's spelled "yangmei" and in English, red bayberry or waxberry.

            http://appetiteforchina.com/taxonomy/...

            May 19,2008 entry for the photos.

            1. re: thinks too much

              Aha, I was thinking those were hawthorns, you're right of course. Interesting fruit, aren't they? I find them a touch bitter but very interesting to eat.

                1. re: buttertart

                  Yes, those are tasty, and that's what I was referring to when I said Chinese bayberries in my original post. These were in season last May/June in Southern China, and I saw them in Shanghai as well. Really nice, especially sprinkled with a bit of sugar and chilled with ice.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Thanks for the extra info. I didn't note the bitterness you mention when I tasted them. They were clearly very fresh with leaves still attached to some of them. I was buying a passion fruit on the street in Yangshuo and pointed at the cups of yangmei and pantomimed curiosity. They picked one out for me to try and it just about buckled my knees. The passionfruit paled in comparison.

                    1. re: thinks too much

                      Hmm, maybe the ones I had were past their prime. I certainly can't see them being better than baixiangguo...

          2. You might want to take a look at the "Chinatown fruit report" on the Manhattan board for discussion of a number of "unusual" fruits - seasonality is also discussed (what we get here is in season over there). One you should be on the lookout for is a wax apple aka snow apple (lian wu in Mandarin). It's bell-shaped and a very bright fuschia/pink. Not very flavorful, just a bit tart, but it has a unique texture (like a looser apple) and is very juicy and refreshing. Midsummer fruit.

            1. the bayberries are popping up now. Watermelons are available year round, but are most popular in hot weather. Yunnan pineapples we also get almost year round.

              Starfruit, have seen them but don't recall the season where I am (Sichuan). Mangosteens I have seen over the past few months and will see into the summer. Strawberries cherries, loquats, and mulberries (all local) are pretty much over for the year here, but I am pretty sure the strawberry season in a place like Beijing would run later. Lychees are right now, mangoes we get all year round. We are also inundated with plums, all kinds and colours, I am going a little crazy cooking plums right now. Peaches just started and we'll get a few more varieties as the summer wears on, including the honey peaches in August. Apples aren't great right now, and we are just getting the local grapes.

              My impression is that China is really trying to increase the variety of fruits grown - we have a few kinds of kiwi grown locally too, but their season seems to be over.

              2 Replies
              1. re: pepper_mil

                You lucky critter, I would love to be in your shoes right now.

                1. re: pepper_mil

                  Cool, thanks for the info.

                  I will also report back about what I see, I'll be in China in a few more weeks!