DaJinDian Millet vinegar has been produced in Dajindian for over a hundred years. The production of this vinegar is based on local varieties of millet, produced exclusively in the DengFeng ecologic area. The process comprises various phases: the first is the preparation of the yeast, which takes place in summer and is made by mixing barley flour and watermelon. After a period of fermentation, the dough is shaped into spheres and left to dry.
Afterward, around the time of day of the dead (April 4-5 in the western calendar), the millet is soaked for a few days, put into vats and hung in a fresh and airy place until mid-May. A few days before mid-May the yeast is added.
Before sealing the vats, the mouth of the pots is scorched to avoid contamination. To stir the mixture, it’s necessary to use jujube sticks, a different one is used for each vat, as the saying goes: “You can’t mix the content of two vats with the same stick!”
Tradition dictates that the vinegar be stirred at regular intervals, but never at night. The vinegar will be ready the following year, around the Chinese day of the dead. The whole process is completely manual and no additives or other chemicals are added.
Nowadays in Dajindian village there’s often only one elderly woman left who knows how to prepare it and therefore only one family is still using the traditional fermentation method to produce this ancient and valuable vinegar.
Due to the complexity and length of the procedure and because of its low output, the local population and especially the new generations are not keen to take on this ancient knowledge. For these reasons, Dajindian millet vinegar is now solely produced for family consumption and is likely to disappear.
The vinegar is clear and golden yellow with a strong and aromatic fragrance. The locals call it “magic vinegar” because of its curative properties, which are especially good for blood circulation.