Term of the Week: Jujube

Little did I know the jujube fruit, also called red date or Chinese date is highly desired by several Asian cultures.  The Chinese have long used jujubes to treat anxiety and insomnia.  They also invigorate the digestive system and are used to make restorative tea.  Who would know this little drupe (the technical name) could have so many faces and taste good too.

The source of my first jujube was a CSA box from the Del Rio Botanical/Peabody Ranch in Sacramento.  I recently went back to visit Suzanne, Peabody’s proprietor, who graciously gave a tour of what was popping at the farm.  It included jujubes.  Three varieties of smallish trees were full of ripe fruit on the down swing.  I’m familiar with one green in color that turns rust as it ripens.  The skin eventually wrinkles like a date and its flesh gets soft with age.  I’d describe the taste similar to a date.  It’s not juicy and is like biting into a roasted chestnut with a tad more sweetness.

Suzanne had a wild variety growing with smaller fruit, about the size of a nickel.  This one was softer and juicy with a good amount of acid.  It’s different from others and you either like it or not.

The big question with jujubes is what you do with them besides eating like a fruit.  They’re good sliced in green and rice or other grain type of salads.  I could see jujube stuffing in a Thanksgiving turkey.  Or jujube confections- pierce them several times then simmer in your favorite flavored simple syrup. The canner part of me says make jujube jam but think I’ll wait until next year.

Jujubes aren’t widely grown and are harder to source.  Twin Peaks Orchards from Placer County grows and sells them at the Sunday Sacramento market but you’d better hurry if you want a taste as their season is short and ending soon.

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