Gangina is a traditional means of keeping grapes and other fruits fresh for several months by sealing them in airtight containers made from moist soil.
Grapes are difficult to keep fresh for long periods of time even when refrigeration is available, but apparently Afghans have long used an ancient method to keep the soft fruit fresh for consumption during the winter months when fresh fruit is otherwise difficult to come by. This ingenious preservation technique, called gangina, involves sealing healthy grapes in a saucer-like container made from two layers of moist soil. The container is left to dry in the sun and must then be stored in a cool place out of direct sunlight. When properly stored, Gangina containers can keep grapes picked in the fall fresh until the spring season of the following year.
“We should first remove the broken grapes and then put them in Gangina. If we put the broken ones in Gangina, all the other grapes will spoil, ”said farmer Abdul Manan, adding that only healthy grapes need to be preserved this way, otherwise a single spoiled grape can ruin an entire batch.
Gangina containers need to be airtight and kept in a cool, dark place to keep the fruit fresh inside. In winter or spring, when the demand for fruit grows, and with it the price people are willing to pay, farmers like Abdul Manan bring out their gangina grapes and sell them for a profit. Each container holds approximately one kilogram of grapes.
“We keep a lot of grapes in Gangina and will sell them in the coming winter or spring,” the winemaker Askar told the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture. “With this method we will have a good income.”
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