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What is a Jujube?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 30 July 2014
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The jujube is a type of fruit common across much of Asia. It is sold both fresh and dried, with the dried version sometimes called a Chinese Date, due to its sweet granular texture and single seed. The jujube has over four hundred cultivars in China, where it was grown for centuries before being introduced to Europe by explorers. In Europe, dried jujubes became wildly popular, and the term came to refer to any candy or sweet, the likely reason the name was chosen for a type of candy popular in the Southern United States.

The jujube tree can grow up to 40 feet (12 meters) in height, with long drooping branches, and is often thorny. The tree is quite lovely and used by some gardeners for ornamentation. Unlike many other fruiting trees, jujubes tend not to drop fruit as readily, and therefore will not make a mess of the garden beneath them. Jujube leaves are small and oval or round, turning yellow in the fall before dropping off. Almost all jujube leaves have spines.

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The jujube fruit appears in the fall and is usually round in shape, although some cultivars have oblong fruit. The fruit is red when ripe, with a soft, edible skin surrounding creamy, sweet flesh. The fruit does not remain ripe for long, however. It soon begins to shrivel and dry on the tree into a brownish, wrinkled fruit that is also edible. For this reason, many cultivators leave the fruit on the tree to dry before collecting it for storage. In taste, the jujube resembles an apple, although it has a distinct flavor all its own.

Fresh ripe jujubes are very delicate and will keep approximately one week in refrigeration. They will not ripen further once removed from the tree, although they can bruise. The fruit is more often sold and eaten dried, and many nations offer a candied version that is delicious as well. The dried fruit does not need to be treated, as it dries naturally, and appears to keep indefinitely.

The leaves of the jujube tree are eaten by some animal species, and the fruit and bark are both used to generate brown or reddish plant dyes. The tree is also resistant to many pests, making in an excellent choice for organic gardening. Some adherents of Asian medicine believe that the jujube has many healthy qualities. The fruit is extremely high in vitamin C, but has no other demonstrated health benefits.

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popcorn
Post 11

I've never tried a jujube fruit, but I have a love of the candies, which makes me interested in what the fruit may taste like.

When I was a child my grandparents always used to keep a huge container of jujubes at their house so it made visiting them even more fun. I remember how much fun it was squishing the jujubes between my fingers before eating them.

Nowadays I keep my own jujube stash around and love to find different ways to use them when I am in treat making mode. If you have never tried it before, mixing pieces of jujubes into homemade vanilla ice cream is a very tasty experiment you can do easily.

manykitties2
Post 10

The jujube fruit isn't very well known but it is starting to gain popularity because of the great things that it can do for your health. The jujube fruit is filled with an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals, so adding it to your diet is an instant nutrition boost. This especially great if you don’t want to have to take supplements every day.

There have also been some studies done that show that the jujube fruit is great for helping you protect your liver. In addition to that it has been shown to help those suffering from cancer. It apparently has been shown to shrink tumors when administered in a medical compound.

recapitulate
Post 9

I only knew these as the candies, both Jujubes and Jujyfruits. I didn't realize they were a real thing, but now I am really curious to try them.

KLR650
Post 8

@Viktor13 - According to the little bit of research I've done the tree Ziziphus zizyphus, or jujube, is not commonly grown here, although they say it is good in many climates. It does sound like an interesting and fun project, though. Good luck with it!.

Viktor13
Post 7

Does anyone know if the trees will grow in the midwestern United States? I love fruit trees, they usually have really pretty blossoms, and of course you have the side benefit of fresh fruit.

My favorite corkscrew willow tree just had to be removed from the yard because it got a disease. I think I'll try to find out if a jujube tree would thrive in this environment. Since they grow to 04 feet it would be great for shade.

bigjim
Post 6

I guess you learn something new every day. I always thought of a jujube as those hard little jelly candies you buy in the movie theater, and I was never really a fan. I would assume the candy must be based on the little fruit.

There is a great Chinese grocery store near me. I guess I'll have to go and give them a try. I like to get my vitamins in a natural form if I can, rather than taking a pill.

John57
Post 5

My mom is always looking for natural products to help with some of her physical problems. She ordered some jujube seeds online because she was having trouble sleeping at night.

I thought I would check up on it and found out that the Chinese have been using jujube seeds to help with insomnia for many years. My mom says that most of the time taking these jujube seeds have helped her get better sleep.

myharley
Post 4

I live in Texas and we have some jujube trees that grow here. My uncle has had some jujube fruit trees on his farm for many years.

Once when I was visiting I put what I thought was apple butter on my toast in the morning. It tasted a little sweeter than apple butter and I found out it was jujube butter.

This was my first time trying anything that had a jujube taste to it, and I was pleasantly surprised. My aunt told me she uses this fruit just like she does apples. If she has a recipe that calls for apples she will often substitute with jujube instead.

ddljohn
Post 3

I just bought a "lang" type jujube tree from my local nursery only to find out that this is the least sweet and tasty of all jujubes.

I might try to return it and get a different type of jujube. I read that "li," "sugarcane" and "shui min" are all very sweet. I'm sure that I can't grow any one of them randomly, it depends on the temperature and the soil where I live. I will have to look into which type of jujube would be most suitable to grow here.

burcidi
Post 2

@turquoise-- My grandfather used make a jujube herbal medicine for me whenever I was sick. He would tell me that it would improve my immunity and make me sleep so that when I wake up, I will be all well. It always worked!

In China, parents will also give jujube to thin and weak children to increase their appetite. I actually have a cousin who is really tall and well built. We used make fun of him saying that he ate too much jujube as a child!

Most Chinese grocery stores carry some form of jujube -- tea, dry fruit or candy. If you can't find it there, you can definitely get it online. Just make sure to buy from a good brand so that it will be fresh.

turquoise
Post 1

When I visited Asia, I saw a lot of jujube teas in the store. I bought some to try and it was surprisingly sweet and refreshing. I think it also has a lot of vitamin C, so it is recommended to have it as hot tea when you are sick or tired.

That's probably where the medicinal use of jujube came from. I have been looking for the same tea here but the Asian store in my neighborhood doesn't have any.

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