NANJING, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- This year's harvest season for China's highly sought-after freshwater crabs began on Monday in the Yangcheng Lake in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province.
Yangcheng Lake crabs and mooncakes are autumn delicacies for Chinese foodies ready to splurge over the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival in early October.
A total of 10,260 tonnes of the tasty and pricey mitten crabs are expected to be harvested this year from a breeding area that covers 18,408 hectares.
Lu Zhirong, deputy head of the Suzhou Municipal Agriculture and Rural Affairs Bureau, said the entire harvest can reach the market before October.
"Starting from this year, special anti-counterfeiting labels are tied to all Yangcheng lake crabs before marketing," he said.
He noted that in recent years, Suzhou has been vigorously promoting the scientific and ecological cultivation of the crabs in Yangcheng Lake. The water in the cultivation areas is treated and recycled to meet environmental standards.
Chinese people have a custom of eating crabs in the autumn, when the meat is at its best. The tradition can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220).
Crab is considered auspicious as the Chinese word for crab is "xie," which is pronounced the same as the Chinese word for "thanks."