If you visit the fruit and vegetable markets during September and October you’ll be sure to see mounds of a small red fruit that look like dates.
They’re not dates, so what are they?
And why are we writing about them now if they’re only available in September?
What are they?
They’re jujubes, – small sweet, fruits that look like dates. Similar to an olive in size, fresh jujube fruit has crisp, sweet flesh reminiscent of an apple. Though it has the consistency and taste of an apple when ripe, it tastes a lot like dates when mature.
The immature fruit is green in color, but as it ripens it goes through a yellow-green stage with mahogany-colored spots appearing on the skin as the fruit ripens further.
The fully mature fruit is entirely red.
Shortly after becoming fully red, the fruit begins to soften and wrinkle (hence the similarity to a date. The fruit can be eaten after it becomes wrinkled, but most people prefer them during the interval between the yellow-green stage and the full red stage.
In Turkish, jujube is called “hünnap,” or depending on the region, “innap,” or “ünnap,” coming from the Arabic “innap.” Jujube was one of the favorite fruit preserves at Topkapı Palace, where there was a special kitchen for jam-making known as a “reçelhane.”
Jujubes (Joo-Joo-Bees) are also commonly called red dates, Chinese dates, Korean dates or Indian dates.
Ways to eat jujubes
Jujubes, fresh or dried, make a tasty and nutrient-boosting snack, and they can be used in place of apples in recipes.
Try adding sliced jujubes to your autumn salads. Toss with baby spinach or rocket, walnuts, blue cheese, and a sweet vinaigrette.
Slice thinly and add to oatmeal or yogurt for added sweetness.
Bake sliced jujubes with pork chops in the oven like you would apples.
Make jujube chips by slicing thinly and placing in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 250 degrees until dehydrated.
Or you can make Jujube Jam
Recipe courtesy of Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- 6 ounces dried jujube dates
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
Cover jujube dates with water and soak overnight. Cover with wet cloth to keep dates submerged in the water.
Place rehydrated dates in Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Add sugar and 1 cup water. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes. Natural release 10 minutes then quick release pressure. Let dates cool.
Remove pits from dates. Place in a food processor with any remaining liquid. Process until smooth. Strain pulp. This should yield about 11 ounces of jujube date puree/jam.
They’re good for you too
Jujubes have an impressive nutritional profile. Like dates, jujube fruit is loaded with energy, essential vitamins and minerals, which provide its many health benefits.
The health benefits of jujubes
Jujube extract is filled with phenolics that boost its antioxidant activity. This means that the antioxidant enzymes found in jujube work more swiftly to get rid of free radicals and prevent cancer.
Improves Sleep And Treats Insomnia
Jujube has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve sleep and treat insomnia since time immemorial. This is because it contains saponins that have a sedative and hypnotic effect, which make it perfect for inducing sleep. Having a cup of warm jujube tea right before you go to bed could give you restful sleep and treat insomnia in the most natural way possible.
Improves Heart Health And Decreases The Risk Of Heart Disease
There are several ways in which eating jujubes can do wonders for your heart health. First, it is loaded with potassium and low in sodium, which makes it easier for your blood vessels to relax and maintain a good level of blood pressure. It has also been found to work as an antiatherogenic agent, which means that it prevents fat from getting deposited in and clogging your arteries.
When it comes to boosting your immunity, it really doesn’t get better than the jujube. This little fruit is packed with vitamins A and C that are powerful antioxidants. These essential nutrients fight against free radical damage that is responsible for a compromised immune system and could lead to cancer, heart disease, and rapid aging.
Jujubes are low in calories and have absolutely no fat. Additionally, they have a high fiber and protein content, which means that they can fill you up fast and prevent you from indulging in unhealthy snacks between meals and putting on weight. So, it comes as no surprise that jujubes are a huge hit among fitness freaks.
Jujubes have many more health benefits. You can find out more in the article below.
Why are we writing about them now?
Jujube have such a short season and, if you don’t know about them and missed them last year, we don’t want you to miss them this year.
We’ll drop you a reminder in September…
Thank you to Nichola Chapman for sharing her photographs with us.