Dried Ziziphus Jujuba
iPhoneOgraphy – 06 Aug 2016 (Day 219/366)
Ziziphus jujuba (from Greek zízyphon), commonly called jujube sometimes jujuba, red date, Chinese date, Korean date, or Indian date is a species of Ziziphus in the buckthornfamily (Rhamnaceae). It is used primarily as a shade tree that also bears fruit.
It is a small deciduous tree or shrub reaching a height of 5–12 metres (16–39 ft), usually with thorny branches. The leaves are shiny-green, ovate-acute, 2–7 centimetres (0.79–2.76 in) wide and 1–3 centimetres (0.39–1.18 in) broad, with three conspicuous veins at the base, and a finely toothed margin. The flowers are small, 5 millimetres (0.20 in) wide, with five inconspicuous yellowish-green petals. The fruit is an edible oval drips 1.5–3 centimetres (0.59–1.18 in) deep; when immature it is smooth-green, with the consistency and taste of an apple, maturing brown to purplish-black and eventually wrinkled, looking like a small date. There is a single hard stone similar to an olive stone.
Jujube was domesticated in South Asia by 9000 BCE. Over 400 cultivars have been selected.
The tree tolerates a wide range of temperatures and rainfall, though it requires hot summers and sufficient water for acceptable fruiting. Unlike most of the other species in the genus, it tolerates fairly cold winters, surviving temperatures down to about −15 °C (5 °F). This enables the jujube to grow in mountain or desert habitats, provided there is access to underground water throughout the summer. The species Ziziphus jujuba grows in cooler regions of Asia. Five or more other species of Ziziphus are widely distributed in milder climates to hot deserts of Asia and Africa.
In Madagascar, jujube trees grow extensively in the western part of the island, from the north all the way to the south. It is widely eaten by free ranging zebus, and its seeds grow easily in zebu feces. It is an invasive species, threatening mostly protected areas.
The freshly harvested as well as the candied dried fruit are often eaten as a snack, or with coffee. Smoked jujubes are consumed in Vietnam and are referred to as ‘black jujubes. Both China and Korea produce a sweetened tea syrup containing jujube fruit in glass jars, and canned jujube tea or jujube tea in the form of teabags. To a lesser extent, jujube fruit is made into juice and jujube vinegar (called 枣醋 or 红枣醋 in Chinese). They are used for making pickles in west Bengal and Bangladesh. In China there is a wine made from jujube fruit, called hong zao jiu (红枣酒).
Sometimes pieces of jujube fruit are preserved by storing them in a jar filled with baijiu (Chinese liquor), which allows them to be kept fresh for a long time, especially through the winter. Such jujubes are called jiu zao (酒枣; literally “alcohol jujube”). The fruit is also a significant ingredient in a wide variety of Chinese delicacies.
In Vietnam and Taiwan, fully mature, nearly ripe fruit is harvested and sold on the local markets and also exported to Southeast Asian countries. The dried fruit is used in desserts in China and Vietnam, such as Ching bo Leung, a cold beverage that includes the dried jujube, longan, fresh seaweed, barley, and lotus seeds.
In Korea, jujubes are called daechu (대추) and are used in Daechucha teas and samgyetang.
In Croatia, especially Dalmatia, jujubes are used in marmalades, juices and rakija (fruit brandy).
In Lebanon, Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries the fruit is eaten as snacks or alongside a dessert after a meal. On his visit to Medina the nineteenth century English explorer, Sir Richard Burton, observed that the local variety of Jujube fruit was widely eaten. He describes its taste as “like a bad plum, an unrepentant cherry and an insipid apple.” He gives the local names for three varieties as “Hindi (Indian), Baladi (native), Tamri (date like).” In Palestine a hundred years ago a close variety was common in the Jordan valley and around Jerusalem. The bedouin valued the fruit, calling it nabk. It could be dried and kept for winter or made into a paste which was used as bread.
In Persian cuisine, the dried drupes are known as “annab”, while in neighboring Azerbaijan it is commonly eaten as a snack, and are known as “innab”. These names are related, and the Turks use a similarly related name, “hünna. Ziziphus jujubagrows in northern Pakistan and is known as “innab”, commonly used in the Tibb system of medicine. There seems to be quite a widespread confusion in the common name. The innab is Z. jujuba: the local name “ber” is not used for innab. Rather ber is used for three other cultivated or wild species, e.g., Z. spina-christi, Z. mauritiana, and Z. nummularia in Pakistan and parts of India and is eaten both fresh and dried. Often the dry fruit (ber) was used as a padding in leather horse saddles in parts of Baluchistan in Pakistan. The Arabic name “sidr” is used for Ziziphus species other than Z. jujuba.
Traditionally in India, the fruit is dried in the sun and the hard nuts are removed. Then, it is pounded with tamarind, red chilies, salt, and jaggery. In some parts of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, fresh whole ripe fruit is crushed with the above ingredients and dried under the sun to make cakes called “ilanthai vadai” or “regi vadiyalu” (Telugu).
The fruit and its seeds are used in Chinese and Korean traditional medicine, where they are believed to alleviate stress, and traditionally for anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory purposes and sedation, antispastic, antifertility/contraception, hypotensive and antinephritic, cardiotonic, antioxidant, immunostimulant, and wound healing properties.
In the traditional Chinese wedding ceremony, the jujube was often placed in the newlyweds’ bedroom as a good luck charm for fertility, along with peanuts, longan, and chestnuts, punning on an invocation to “have an honored child soon”.