Jujube, also known as Chinese red date (枣), is an attractive "drupe" fruit of Chinese origin. "Zao" as the fruit recognized in the mainland China, it grows in natural wild and cultivated orchards in Korea, Japan, and many Middle Eastern regions. Dry jujube has 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 to a height of about 5-7 meters. Its highly branched twigs carry sharp spines. The plant is drought tolerant and can thrive well under poor soil conditions.
Z. jujuba bears light green to white color flowers in early summer. Small size fruits cover the entire plant by July. Each fruit is "drupe" featuring creamy white flesh surrounding a single central hard seed as in apricots.
Jujube comes in several different sizes and shapes depending upon the cultivar type. Each berry is about the size of 3-6 cm in diameter ranging in shape from oval, oblate, round to elongated and cylindrical. Inside, its slightly sticky, crispy textured pulp has apple-like sweet and tart taste in case of raw, green fruits. As the berry dries on the tree, its color turns from light green to red or brown. Completely mature fruit develops wrinkles on its surface as in dates. Fruits can be harvested on the basis of consumer demand, whether to enjoy crunchy light green berries or dried red ones.
Jujube, fresh or dried, has long been considered as nutritious fruits praised in Chinese culture. The berries packed with an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are required for healthy growth, development and overall well-being.
While fresh jujube plentiful in vitamins and fiber; dried, red ripe berries high in calories, rather 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 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 oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Calcium is an important mineral that is an essential constituent of bone and teeth and required by the body for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve impulse conduction.
Further, fresh as well as dried berries carry modest levels of the B-complex group of vitamins. Dried jujube contains very good amounts of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), thiamin niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. These vitamins are acting as cofactors help the body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.20 g||1%|
|Vitamin A||40 IU||1%|
|Vitamin C||69 mg||115%||Electrolytes|
Dry jujube fruits and its powder used in many traditional Chinese medicine to cure nervousness, stave off infections, and to improve digestive power.
Fresh jujube berries begin arriving in the markets from July and lasts until November in the mainland China. Varieties of fresh or dried date-like berries can be 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 the 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.