Jujube, also known as Chinese red date (枣), is an attractive "drupe" fruit of Chinese origin. Called by the name "Zao" in mainland China, it grows in the wild as well as cultivated orchards in Korea, Japan, and many Middle Eastern regions. Dry jujube has a similar taste and nutrition profile as that of dates; packed with energy, minerals, and essential vitamins.
Botanically, it belongs to the Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn) family of flowering plants.
Scientific name: Ziziphus jujuba.
|Light green, raw jujube fruits. (Photo by-epen2c)|
Jujube is a small to medium-sized, spreading deciduous tree reaching a height of about 5-7 meters. It's highly branched twigs carry sharp spines. The plant is drought-tolerant and can thrive well under poor soil conditions.
Z. jujuba bears light green or white flowers in early summer. Lemon-sized fruits cover the entire plant by July. In the botany, the fruit is a "drupe" featuring creamy-white flesh surrounding a single central hard pit (seed) as in apricots.
Jujube comes in several different sizes and shapes depending upon the cultivar type. Each berry is about 3-6 cm in diameter, ranging in shape from oval, oblate, round to elongated, and cylindrical. Inside, raw, green jujube is crispy textured, has an apple-like sweet and tart taste.
If the berry left to dry on the tree, it turns from light-green to reddish-brown. Upon completely matured and dried, jujube shrinks and picks up wrinkles on its surface as in dates.
Jujubes are harvested keep in mind the consumer's demand; whether to enjoy raw, crunchy light-green or dried, red berries.
Jujube, fresh or dried, is praised in the Chinese culture for its nutritional qualities. Packed with an impressive list of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, they are essential for adequate growth, development, and overall well-being.
While fresh jujube is plentiful in vitamins and fiber, the red-ripe berry is high in calories and concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals.
They contain health benefiting tannins. Tannins are known to possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hemorrhagic (prevent easy-bleeding tendencies) properties.
Fresh jujube is one of the excellent sources of vitamin-C, composing about 69 mg per 100 grams or 115% of daily recommended intake. Vitamin-C is one of the powerful water-soluble antioxidants that help stave off harmful free-radicals from the human body. It also helps in the synthesis of connective tissue and wound repair.
Dried jujube fruits are an excellent source of calcium (79 mg or 8% of RDI), iron 1.90 mg/100 g of fresh fruit (about 24% of RDI). Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the O2 carrying capacity of the blood.
Calcium is an important mineral in bone and teeth and plays a vital role in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve impulse transmissions.
Further, fresh as well as dried berries carry modest levels of the B-complex group of vitamins. Dried jujube is an excellent sources of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. These vitamins works as cofactors for carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism
|Principle||Nutrient Value||% of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.20 g||1%|
|Vitamin A||40 IU||1%|
|Vitamin C||69 mg||115%||Electrolytes|
Dry jujube fruit and its powder are used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to cure nervousness, stave off infections, and improve digestive power.
Fresh jujube berries begin arriving in the markets from July and lasts until November in mainland China. Varieties of fresh or dried date-like berries can be readily available in the markets.
After harvesting, jujube fruits should be graded according to the degree of ripening and fruit size. Drying can be done as in raisins, dehydrating under the sun for about three weeks, or in a drier machine at commercial processing units. Dried fruit can be consumed as such or further processed into juice, wine, powder, and so on.
Look for fresh, light-green, full, firm berries if you wish to buy apple-crunchy textured berries. Dry berries can be available in packs.
Raw, fresh berries last for 3-4 days at room temperatures, and for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Dried berries, however, can store well for several months.
Wash them in clean water, and dry mop using a paper towel. Fresh as well as dried berries can be eaten out of hand without any seasonings and add on.
|Jujube fruit, wolfberry, chicken soup. (Photo-Singzy)|
Here are some serving tips:
Fresh berries can be eaten out of hand as in apples.
Dry fruits can be used in a much similar way like dried dates, in cakes, tart, bread, muffins, etc.
Jujube fruit tea is a welcome drink in Korean culture.
In Korean peninsula, dried red jujube and ginseng tea (insam-daechu cha) is a popular drink.
Jujube rice cake (Daechu tteok) is another favorite recipe of Koreans.
Dried jujube employed to prepare jams, paste, puree in China. Jujube paste, sweet pastry, mooncake, prepared during the mid-autumn festival in China.
Jujube fruits fresh or dry can be consumed safely in children and pregnant mothers. (Medical disclaimer).
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Further reading and Resources:
Dried jujube fruit-United States National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.