Sweet flavors for Tet

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Mứt Tết (Tet candied fruits) is an indispensable treat during the Lunar New Year

Tet is a time when everyone prepares a box of colorful candied fruits, or mứt Tết, at home to give visitors, gift to friends and family, and offer to ancestors.

A typical visitor would munch on a candy and roasted watermelon seeds and drink cups of jasmine tea.

In the past people used to make the candies home, sending the pleasant smell of fruits wafting through villages.

But these days people are too busy, and this has become is a waning habit. Instead, they tend to buy them at supermarkets and markets where hundreds of the yummy treats line the shelves.

Of course, some do make them at home. It is a simple process and the ingredients are all readily available - like coconut, ginger, sweet potato, kumquat, tamarind, and pineapple.

They also have health benefits.

For instance, having a few ginger candies after food will relieve flatulence, while candied kumquat, which is often eaten whole along with the peel, helps relieve sore throats, promotes digestion, and eases hangovers.

The candied lotus seed is useful for relieving stress and getting good sleep.

People making them at home often prefer lotus seeds since they are delicious and easy to make.

They soak dried lotus seeds in water for several hours so that they enlarge and become tender.

They bring a pot of water to a boil, add the lotus seeds, and simmer the mixture. They transfer it into a bowl, rinse the seeds, and allow it to cool. They prepare an equal measure of sugar to add to the lotus seeds.

They heat a pan, put the sugar along with half a bowl of water in it, and stir constantly to dissolve the sugar. They then simmer it over low heat until the mixture thickens and turns syrupy.

They add the lotus seeds to the pan, stir gently, and add some juice extracted from pomelo flowers to make the seeds more fragrant.

They slant the pan to separate them from the syrup and spoon the syrup on to the lotus seeds until they turn translucent. They finally pour it into the tray and allow it to cool.

The delicious candy is now ready to eat.

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