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Jujubes can be found either oval or round and vary in size from a large grape to a golf ball. They can resemble a yellowish crab apple covered with a firm brown skin. Depending on the variety, coloring can range from a speckled yellow-green to entirely brown. In the center is a hard pointed inedible seed, surrounded by a uniquely textured pith that is both crisp and airy. Its flavor can range from sweet and sour to caramel apple, depending on variety and ripeness.
Jujube's are available in summer through fall.
Jujubes are a member of the Rhamnaceae or Buckthorn family and are botanically known as Ziziphus jujuba. Jujubes are also commonly known as Chinese dates, Korean dates, red dates or tsao. There are over 400 Jujube varieties available today, but it was not until 1908 that more desirable Chinese varieties were introduced by the USDA. It has been observed that when JuJube plants are watered the night before a morning harvest, its' fruits will acquire the most ideal texture and juiciness.
This rare fruit is rich in vitamin C.
Usually this fruit is candied but may be enjoyed fresh. Stew in honey or sugar syrup. Make a Jujube cake or cookies. Add Jujubes to sautéed vegetables for an unusual sweet twist. Substitute dried Jujubes for raisins or dates. Wine can even be made from Jujubes. To store, refrigerate.
In China, this special fruit is popular dried or preserved in syrup. Its juice was formerly used for making lozenges to help alleviate chest pain. Because of this, the word "Jujube" acquired the meaning of "a confection, sweetmeat, or medicated lozenge, round, oblong, or square in shape," as quoted in Law's Grocers' Manual of c 1895 explaining, however, that these said Jujubes are made with gum Arabic or other gums, not made with the actual Jujube fruits.
Thought to be native to Syria and China, Jujubes are primarily grown in China. Produced on an ornamental small thorny tree, this fruit loves a dry and mild climate. Being able to survive in cooler temperatures, it grows in Mediterranean countries and has since biblical times. Chinese gardeners developed the small fruit until it became superior and dessert quality. Loving life in both hemispheres, Jujubes are now cultivated in Japan, Iran and Afghanistan. They remain a favorite in the Mediterranean. Jujube trees now love life in the United States and thrive in California, Florida and the southwestern region.
Recipes that include JuJube. One is easiest, three is harder.
People have spotted JuJube using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
Produce Spotting allows you to share your produce discoveries with your neighbors and the world! Is your market carrying green dragon apples? Is a chef doing things with shaved fennel that are out of this world? Pinpoint your location annonymously through the Specialty Produce App and let others know about unique flavors that are around them.