Red dates are washed and disinfected.
Looking for a date? Well, you're in luck. Just go to any grocery store in China, and chances are, there will be rows and rows of prettily plastic-packed red dates ready for your consumption.
Or head to a place like Taigu County in Shanxi Province, one of the nation's red-date capitals. The leafy trees are everywhere – in autumn, stop on the side of the road, and shake them down for some fresh, organic crunch.
Though it's a small agrarian county in northern China, Taigu's annual yield has been reported to be 50,000 tonnes – that's roughly 35 grams of fresh, Taigu red dates for each person on the Chinese mainland.
Also known as jujubes or hongzao in Mandarin, these crunchy, seeded fruits have been grown in China for 4,000 years.
They are consumed fresh – which is when they contain around 20 times the amount of Vitamin C of any citrus fruit. But they are more popular as a candied dried snack. They can also be used in cooking, or made into juice and vinegar.
In traditional Chinese medicine, dates also have a reputation as a "cure all." Dates are believed to have anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
In Chinese wedding culture, red dates (as well as longans, chestnuts and peanuts) are often placed in the newlywed's bedroom as a fertility charm.