China's Shanxi infuses new flavors and innovation into vinegar industry

(Xinhua) 13:23, August 04, 2023

TAIYUAN, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- In north China's Shanxi Province, the versatility of vinegar extends far beyond expectations, encompassing a wide array of offerings, including vinegar-flavored beverages, delightful ice creams and even entire vinegar-themed parks, showcasing the boundless potential of the vinegar industry here.

After alighting from the bus, Zhang Tianhe set foot on a captivating journey of discovery within the Donghu Vinegar Park, Taiyuan City.

Accompanied by a tour guide, the teenager from Beijing explored the various production workshops, witnessing the steaming sorghum, the bubbling alcohol fermentation process, and other vinegar-making techniques.

"I never imagined that the Shanxi Laochencu, or mature vinegar, would undergo so many intricate processes. The wisdom of our ancestors is truly admirable," he said.

Shanxi has a history of over 3,000 years in making vinegar. Unlike Western cider vinegar, the renowned Shanxi mature vinegar stands out for its unique brewing process, crafted using a blend of sorghum, peas and barley.

Data indicates that Shanxi accounts for over 20 percent of the national vinegar production.

Established by the Shanxi Mature Vinegar Group Co., Ltd. in 2000, the Donghu Vinegar Park aims to showcase the traditional production techniques and historical and cultural significance of Shanxi mature vinegar.

In the first half of this year, the vinegar park received over 100,000 visitors.

"By combining vinegar with culture, the products gain substantial value-added benefits, resulting in the promotion of both vinegar culture and the brand," said Lian Jia, head of the tourism department of Donghu Vinegar Park.

In Shanxi, many major vinegar manufacturers have established museums or parks, or set up workshops in popular tourist destinations, allowing tourists to learn about its mature vinegar culture and brewing skills, which has been listed as a national intangible cultural heritage.

In Qingxu County, the birthplace of Shanxi mature vinegar, the traditional condiment was even integrated into dance, songs, films and other forms of entertainment. The local vinegar industry has created job opportunities for nearly 100,000 people.


The extensive exploration of vinegar culture has given rise to a wave of trendy products. While wandering through various vinegar parks, virtually every visitor can be seen holding a stick of vinegar-flavored ice cream.

During traditional festivals like Mid-Autumn Festival and Dragon Boat Festival, the demand for vinegar mooncakes and rice dumplings soars, making them irresistible festive treats.

"On one hand, the acidity of mature vinegar balances the sweetness of some traditional dishes, and more importantly, on the other hand, people are tasting a culture," Lian said.

At Shanxi's key laboratory of vinegar fermentation science and engineering, researchers can be seen analyzing vinegar brewing techniques, key scientific technologies for intelligent fermentation, and its nutritional health and standard systems.

"We are uncovering the nutritional value of mature vinegar, from basic liver protection to antioxidation, transforming vinegar from a simple seasoning into a healthful and nourishing food," said Zheng Yu, director of the laboratory.


In recent years, Shanxi's mature vinegar has gradually made its way abroad, taking Chinese vinegar culture to foreign shores.

"With the rising popularity of malatang (hot spicy soup), grilled fish, and hotpot in the Republic of Korea, the acceptance of Chinese mature vinegar among the younger generation is increasing," said Quan Haitian, who has been engaged in Sino-Korean trade for over a decade.

Quan can sell over 10,000 boxes of Shanxi mature vinegar a year.

Currently, the mature vinegar is exported to over 30 countries and regions, including the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.

"Despite different dietary habits, people overseas are amazed and impressed by the brewing process of the mature vinegar, making it a window for them to understand and appreciate Chinese culture," said Liu Bin, vice general manager of Shanxi Mature Vinegar Group Co., Ltd.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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