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December 1, 2011

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Sweet old-time pear candy for kids' coughs

SWEET and medicinal ligaotang (pear candy) is a traditional Shanghai candy that dates back to 1855. It was a popular among poor people because it was not only sweet but also cheap and medicinal, made from rose, pear, hawthorn and other herbs.

In old Shanghai, children flocked to the vendors selling ligaotang, because they would sing and dance and create funny lyrics, like old-time hip-hop and rap.

Made with pear, tangerine peel and lemon powder, it would help treat coughs and sore throats and ease asthma.

Since it was sweet, it was easy to get children to take this cough medicine.

Shanghai mothers used to make the candy and store it.

It's easy to make - if you can find the herbs.

Wash and clean pears and stew with traditional herbs including chuan mu (fritillaria), bai bu (radix stemonae), qian hu (peucedanum), almond, gan cao (licorice), ban xia (rhizoma pinelliae) and kuan dong hua (coltsfoot flower).

Remove some of the juice every 20 minutes, retain it, and replace with water; continue to boil the mixture.

Do this four times. Then pour all the retained juice into a porcelain container (avoid metal).

Boil at high heat and then simmer until it thickens and gets sticky.

Add rock sugar and continue to stir.

Add lemon powder and dried tangerine peel. Stir until syrup is formed.

Pour into a dish coated with a layer of oil. Let it cool. There's the candy.

You can break it into pieces.

Today few candies are handmade. It can be purchased at Chenghuang Temple market in the city center. Ligaotang with different fillings are available, including rose, dried fruit and ham.

Some contain ginseng, ling zhi (ganoderma lucidum) and lu rong (hairy antlers of a young stage).


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