Ziziphus Zizyphus (also Ziziphus jujuba) is more commonly known as jujube, tsao, red date, or Chinese date. In Arabic, it is known as nabq, dum, tsal, sadr, zufzuuf, and sidr. Anab is the Persian word for it. In Tamil it is called "ilanthai pazham", "yelchi hannu" in Kannada, and "regi pandu" in Telugu. It is mostly used as traditional medicine, and for food.
The jujube is native to Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. It was first domesticated in 9000 BCE, on the Indian subcontinent, and has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years; there are 400 different cultivars in China, and the fruit was even mentioned by Chinese poets in 600 BCE. It was originally brought to the USA in 1837, and the USDA imported the plant in 1908. It was also introduced to parts of Australia and Africa.
Jujubes are part of a family that includes around 55 genera and 900 species. Ziziphus zizyphus has thorny branches and grows to between 5-10 meters with green, ovate leaves that turn yellow in the fall. The flowers are small, only 5 mm (.2 inch), and they flower for several months. The fruit is drupe (a fruit where there's an outer covering over a hard core containing a seed) and varies in size depending on the kind of jujube. It's green and smooth when immature and reportedly tastes like an apple, and when mature it becomes dark and wrinkly. Tests have been done to show they have high amounts of vitamin C, A, and B2.
Jujubes are used in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine (to alleviate stress, as an antifungal, antibacterial, to soothe sore throats, and so on), and their leaves have been found to have the ability to suppress taste. The fruit is eaten fresh or dried. There are red and black jujubes; black jujubes are smoked (as in cooked, not inhaled) to bring out their taste. There is jujube tea (which also comes in teabags), juice, vinegar, and wine.
In Korea they are used in tea and samgyetang (a sort of soup), and as snacks in Lebanon, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan. In some places it is added with tamarind, red chillies, salt, and jaggery and left to dry in the sun, and small dishes called "ilanthai vadai" are made out of the resulting dough. Cakes are made from the fruit in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
So, for the inevitable question: have you ever eaten jujube, Ziziphus zizyphus, or one of its products? If not, would you try it?
-----The Golden Eagle