Our Vineyard: Jujubes

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JUJUBES – Known as Chinese dates, this fruit is very sweet and crisp similar to apples. This fruit is storehouse of vitamins. If you eat three Chinese dates every day they can keep you young.

Jujubes are a very interesting fruit with an even more interesting history. From the Rhamnaceae or Buckthorn botanical family, they've been cultivated in China for more than 4,000 years. There are at least 400 jujube varieties, successfully developed for their distinctive characteristics - principally varieties best for eating fresh and others for drying to attain a chewy, date-like consistency. While jujube trees are extremely hardy and can flourish in even extreme temperatures with as little as eight inches of rainfall a year, they prefer sunny over shady areas.

Sometimes called red dates, Chinese dates, Korean dates, or Indian dates, jujubes come from deciduous and relatively small trees.

Jujubes are red inside and out, with a crispy texture, edible skin, and a sweet-tart, apple-like flavor. When ripe, they can be stored at room temperature for about a week.

Jujubes weren't much of a hit when introduced in the States in the late 1800s because they tried propagating a variety meant for drying. Not until the 1990s was the first truly tasty jujube variety imported into the U.S. by a private individual, and two more in 2007.

Dried jujube varieties can be used to substitute dates or apples in recipes. Just peel the fruit and remove the single seed inside. Jujubes can also be pickled whole or used to make tea.