Lin'an hickory nuts
Lin'an hickory nuts are picked and peeled. [Photo/zjol.com.cn]
Hickory nuts from Lin'an district, Hangzhou are a traditional snack among locals and a popular export commodity.
Lin'an district boasts a forest coverage rate of 81.93 percent, which makes it ideal for growing hickory. The district is China's hickory industry leader in terms of forest area, annual yield, production volume, and sales.
According to local government archives and folk tales, the cultivation of hickory nuts started around 500 years ago and is connected to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)'s founding emperor Zhu Yuanzhang and his military counselor Liu Bowen.
While leading a rebellion army on Daming Mountain (today a 4A-level scenic spot) in southwestern Lin'an, Liu picked up a strange nut while going for a walk around his camp. He tasted it, finding the fruit sweet but the shell bitter.
Hickory nuts [Photo/zjol.com.cn]
He consulted a local peasant woman and managed to remove the bitter taste by boiling the nut in water. He then told his soldiers to collect as many nuts as they could. The cooked hickory nuts proved popular among soldiers and merchants in Hangzhou. Liu even traded them for weapons and ironware.
Hickory nuts have an extremely high nutritional value. They have a protein content of 7.1 to 9.1 percent, fat content of 57.9 percent to 67.4 percent, and 322.5 to 447.5 mg of unsaturated fatty acids in each gram.
Nowadays, every year in early September, locals will celebrate the harvest of Lin'an hickory nuts.
A girl picks up a hickory nut in Lin'an district, Hangzhou, on Sept 7. [Photo/zjol.com.cn]
According to local authorities, this year, Lin'an has around 570,000 mu (38,000 hectares) of hickory forest, which is expected to produce around 15,000 tons of nuts. However, COVID-19 has caused a drop in market price and new sales models must be explored to help farmers weather the difficult times.
On Sept 7, the local government held a harvest festival and invited internet celebrities to host live streams. Nearby tourists participated in culture shows and a photography exhibition and tried their hands at harvesting hickory nuts.
Live streaming and e-commerce sales play an important role in the sale of Lin'an hickory nuts. [Photo/zjol.com.cn]