Ziziphus jujube, commonly called JUJUBE, red date, Chinese date, Korean date or Indian date (ber). It is a small deciduous tree or shrub reaching a height of 5-12m, usually with thorny branches. The leaves are green, ovate-acute, 2-7cm wide and 1-3cm broad, with 3 conspicuous veins at the base and a finely-toothed margin. The flowers are small, with 5 inconspicuous yellowish-green petals. The fruit is an edible oval drupe ——- 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.
It is thought to be in southern Asia, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Korean Peninsula, southern and central China. The JUJUBE fruit is also called HONG ZAO in Mandarin Chinese, POMME SIRETTE in French, BOR in Konkani and Marathi, BER in Hindi, KUL in Bengali, BORAI in Bangladesh, YELCHI HANNU in Kannada, ELANTHA PAZHAM in Tamil-speaking regions, REGI PANDU in Telugu. In Malta it is called ZINZELL. In Vietnamese the fruit is called TAO TAU, which translates to ‘Chinese apple.’ In Urdu it is called UNNAB. In Italian it is called GIUGGOLE. JUJUBE was domesticated I S. Asia by 9000BC. The tree tolerates a wide range of temperatures and rainfall, though it requires hot summers and sufficient water for acceptable fruition. It tolerates fairly cold winters, surviving temperatures down to –15degreesC. This enables the JUJUBE to in mountain and desert habitats, provided there is access to underground water through the summer.
The freshly harvested, as well as the candied dry fruit are often eaten as a snack or with coffee. Both China and Korea produce a sweetened tea syrup containing JUJUBE fruit in glass jars, and canned JUJUBE TEA in the form of teabags. The JUJUBE is used for making pickles in West Bengal and Bangladesh. In China, there is even a wine made from JUJUBE called HONG ZAO JIU. Sometimes, pieces of JUJUBE fruits are preserved by storing them in a jar filled with BAIJUI (Chinese liquor), which allows them to be kept fresh for a long time, especially through the winter. Such JUJUBES are called JIU ZAO ( literally ‘alcohol jujube’). The fruit is also a significant ingredient in a wide variety of Chinese delicacies.
In Persian cuisine, the dried drupes are known as ANNAB, while in neighbouring Azerbaijan, it is commonly eaten as a snack and is known as INNAB. Traditionally, in India, the fruit is dried in the sun and the hard nuts are removed. Then it is pounded with tamarind, red chillies, salt and jiggery.
The fruits and its seeds are used in Chinese and Korean traditional medicine, where they are believed to alleviate stress. In Persian traditional medicine, it is used, in combination with other herbal medicines to treat colds, flu and coughs. The fruit, being MUCILAGINOUS, is very soothing to the throat, and decoctions of JUJUBE have often been used in Pharmacy to treat sore throats.