Jujubes (aka Chinese Dates)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I noticed this fall at the farmer's market a new fruit that seems to be popping up. Jujubes, or Chinese dates as they are often called.

Due to it's adaptability to grow in a wide variety of regions and it's abundance the shrub that grows them is hard to place. It's original cultivation seems to stem from South Asia, possibly Syria or North India, but it has since spread across the continent and is slowly beginning to be cultivated within the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Indeed its ability to stand intensely cold winters and blazingly hot summers and still produce fruit abundantly has made it a easy cash crop and staple for farmers.

So what is a jujube? Well, it's a small simple fruit that has a mellow and smooth taste of green apples but without the tartness of one. The flavor is muted with a sort of serene placidity the one might associate with a lazy Sunday. The texture is firm and crisp, and while not juicy it certainly isn't dry - it has a sort of airy freshness that comes from a small amount of petrified water within it's tense and tight fibrous body (however the fruit is tight, yet very light so one cannot call the texture fibrous, indeed the fruit's cells are so tiny that you can barely discern any fiber at all). At the center is a tiny, stone pit that holds tight to the flesh of the berry. However, when allowed to become a bit overripe they become a bit mucilaginous and are prescribed to help sooth sore throats; furthermore their taste becomes much sweeter.The jujube is often candied or dried out and sugared like traditional dates. Wines and teas are commonly made from them as well for their subtle flavor that, when cured, becomes heady and supposedly quite an aphrodisiac. They are also used in medicine to supposedly alleviate stress and reduce anxiety. Jujubes are also very high in fiber.

I've been keeping them in a bowl and snacking on them periodically. They're light and easy, a tasty snack, palate cleanser, or delicious pairing with tea and light tasting creamy cheeses such as brie.


  1. The Chinese jujube has a sister from India, planted in Italy by the Romans who imported them from Syria. It is a very healthy fruit, very good for the immune system. You can buy them canned or half dried too in the Chinese supermarket. Delicious.

  2. I had this recently from a friend of a friend's orchard. I have tasted the smaller version and more riper version in India. Try this with a little bit of salt and chilli powder.

  3. Thease are great fruit, which reminds me of a tree I used to pick them off in India as a child on my grand fathers farm. I love the fresh yet nutty flavor of this fruit. I can't believe its being cultivated in America. I cant wait to see some localy grown ones. My mom used to make chutny out of this fruit I recall. I believe there are several variety of Jujubi, including one that would turn red when ripe and then dried

  4. I saw these in my produce market but I wasn't sure what to do with them. I bought fresh dates recently, they were sweet and crunch with a little bit of an astringent quality.

  5. These are called Umbanga in Cochin - India

    sent by Kenny (dirty Cochin bugger)


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