Jujube is an edible fruit. This oval drupe is green when immature, before it turns brown, even purplish-black. Mature jujube is wrinkled, like a date but smaller. Jujube fruits can be large as 2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Species: Z. jujuba
- Historians theorized that the origin of the English name of the fruit (jujube) originated from either the French jujube or the medieval Latin jujuba.
- Jujube is in no way related to jojoba (also known as goat nut, deer nut, pignut, wild hazel, quinine nut, coffeeberry, and gray box bush).
- An important part of a tourist spot in Al-Qurnah, Iraq is a very old jujube tree, which locals believe is the Tree of Knowledge mentioned in the Bible. It is found in the place which locals believe is the original site of the Garden of Eden.
- Jujube has over 400 cultivars.
- In Madagascar, it is believed that the zebu (a.k.a indicine cattle or humped cattle) has a big part in why jujube is growing there. The zebu loves to munch on jujube fruit and the seeds in their feces eventually grow to become a tree.
- 19th-century English explorer Sir Richard Burton describes the jujube locals eat in Medina as “a bad plum, an unripe cherry, and an insipid apple.”
Jujube Buying Guide
The supply of fresh jujube fruits in the market in many Asian countries is regular, and the fruits are available to buyers all year long. In the US, it is not that easy to find fresh jujube fruits in the market all year long and you might need to locate a specialty store selling these. Bill Adams, a retired Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist in Harris County, has an explanation for this. According to Adams, fresh jujube fruits only have a 4-day window max to be sold. After that, the condition of the fruits will start to deteriorate and make them unsuitable to be sold.
Candied jujube, dried jujube, and other processed food items are sold in Texas groceries and supermarkets. If you are looking or buying, look for items that read Chinese red dates.
Jujube has many different names depending on where you are. If you are in Barbados and Guyana, ask for dongz or donks if you are looking for jujube, which also goes by the name dumps or dums in Antigua and Barbuda. If you are in The Bahamas, ask where to buy juju. Locals call it pomme surette in the French islands of the Caribbean, altun ha in Belize. Jujube is also known as red date, Chinese date, or Chinese jujube. In Bulgaria, the jujube tree or plant is called hinap or finab and the fruits are harvested in autumn. The Bedouin call it nabk. If you are in Senegal or Gambia and you hear someone say sii dem or ceedem, that’s jujube.
If you are monitoring your calorie intake, remember to buy fresh jujube. Dried jujube has higher calories compared to fresh jujube.
You can order jujube online if the groceries, stores, or supermarkets near you are out of stock.
Jujube Production & Farming in Texas
Jujube is found in many places all over the US like Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, New Mexico, California, and Texas.
According to Texas A&M, jujube was introduced in Texas in approximately 1875. While jujube thrives in Texas weather and climate, there is no major commercial jujube production in Texas. There are two ways Texans propagate jujube trees in the Lone Star State – by using seeds or by using root sprouts from stands of trees found all over Texas. The two common varieties in Texas are Li and Lang. The Lang variety is the most widely grown variety of jujube in Texas, but the Li variety is considered the largest jujube variety grown in Texas. Of all the varieties in Texas, this is the best tasting of all. According to Texas A&M, “both the Li and the Lang varieties should be grafted as they do not come true to seed.”
You can find jujube in the mountains as well as in desert habitats. Jujube is very flexible. It can grow in places with different kinds of temperatures and rainfall. The ideal location for jujube plants to grow is a place that experiences hot summers (although jujube can survive the winter too) and where there is enough annual rainfall to sustain the plant and encourage fruiting.
Jujube is not very picky on what type of soil it is in, pH-wise, as long as there is good drainage. The ideal climate is hot and dry. Jujube trees are proven drought-resistant. The best place for jujube trees in Texas is the Gulf Coast.
A study published in 2016 by Science of The Total Environment indicated that 70.8% of jujube samples contain pesticide residues:
In a 2017 study, the residue of several different pesticides have been detected in jujube fruit:
The jujube tree was domesticated in south Asia as early as 9000 BC.
Today, jujube fruit trees are commonly found in southern Asia, in countries like Lebanon, India, and southern and central China. It is also not surprising to find jujube trees in southeastern Europe. The jujube tree is considered an invasive species in western Madagascar. Indian jujube is found in Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Trinidad.
China is the major commercial producer of jujube – Xinjiang, Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Henan. Vietnam and Taiwan export jujube to neighboring Southeast Asian countries.
Different jujube products come in different packaging.
- Dried jujube – sealed or resealable plastic package
- Candied jujube – sealed or resealable plastic package or small glass bottle/jar
- Powdered jujube tea – plastic and box package
- Jujube jams and preserves – glass bottles/jars
- Jujube wines and beverages – bottles
- Jujube fruit extract supplement – plastic capsule bottles
Packaging should include a label that has important information for consumers (name of the manufacturer, where the product was made, nutritional information, best before or expiration date, ingredients, storage, etc.)
It is important to check the packaging for any signs of tampering or damage. Damaged packaging could mean the food inside has been compromised and is now unsafe to eat.
The fruit of the jujube tree is edible. If you are wondering how jujube tastes, it’s like eating apples. You can eat it fresh with salt and chili flakes. This is the practice in northern and northeastern India.
Jujube fruits are a great fruit to eat for dessert. This fruit is also made into candied dried fruit which is a favorite snack in places where jujube grows. In Azerbaijan, this jujube snack is called innab. Jujube fruits are also used to make preserves.
In Vietnam, it is common to find smoked jujube, which they call black jujube.
In China and Korea, jujube is used to make tea syrup (and in some parts of China, jujube leaves are used to make herbal tea). It is also common practice to make jujube juice and jujube vinegar. Hong zao jiu is a wine made from jujube. This is found in China. Koreans make daechucha teas and samgyetang using jujube, a fruit that they call daechu. The Croatians make fruit brandy called rakija (they also make juices and marmalades using jujube), while in Italy, they have brodo di giuggiole, an alcoholic syrup made from jujube.
Pickled jujube is common in West Bengal and Bangladesh. In Assam, a state in northeastern India, they call pickled jujube bogori aachar (bogori is the local term for jujube). The people of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco use jujube to make jujube honey.
People taking antidepressant medication (venlafaxine or other serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or SSNRIs) are advised to avoid eating jujube.
Ripe jujube should be stored at room temperature between 3 to 5 days. Any longer than that and you will notice the fruit starting to go bad. To make sure jujube lasts longer, make candied jujubes. This can last for 3 months inside the jar. For other jujube products, follow the storage instructions on the label. The label should indicate whether the item needs refrigeration or if it can store it in the pantry at room temperature.
Chinese cuisine features many dishes that use jujube, like jing gao (steamed rice cake). Ching bo leung, a sweet, cold soup of Chinese origin, is a cold beverage that uses dried jujube and mixes it with other ingredients like longan, fresh seaweed, barley, and lotus seeds. This is found in Cantonese, Hainanese, and Guangxi cuisine. There is a version of this in Vietnam, called sâm bổ lượng or chè sâm bổ lượng.
You don’t have to cook jujube to make its usefulness last. Many people practice drying jujube and add it to their stock of food for the winter. This is called annab in Persian cuisine. If you want to cook jujube, you can make it into a paste and use it as a spread for bread.
In India, they mix dried jujube with tamarind, red chilies, salt, and jaggery. You can use the same ingredients and substitute dried jujube with crushed fresh jujube to make cakes called ilanthai vadai or regi vadiyalu.
Jujube fruit is rich in vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants. It contains calories, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Jujube helps you sleep, improve your brain function, boost immunity, fight cancer cells, and improve digestion. It is used to treat colds and flu. Jujube is also good for people who are managing spleen disease, or wounds that need healing, or inflammation in the body, or problems with spasms. Jujube is a great alternative for people looking for antifungal or antibacterial treatment. If you are dealing with an ulcer, drinking jujube herbal tea might be helpful. Jujube is also hypotensive and antinephritic, as well as cardiotonic, antioxidant, and immunostimulant.