The Jujube date – also known as the Chinese date due to its distinctive red colour – is grown in different areas across the world, from Iran, to Southern China, and even in southeast Europe. Many nations have adopted it and given it their own names; in India and Pakistan, it is referred to as Inab; in eastern Asia, it is known as the red date, Chinese date or even Indian date. It seems everyone wants to stake a claim on this delicious and versatile fruit.
The Jujube date is a small, red, egg-shaped fruit. Unlike some types of date fruit which are grown exclusively in one area of the world, Jujube date cultivation is not only common in the highlands of Iran, but also in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and even southern Europe (the only part of Europe with the adequate conditions to grow the date palm). Although it does require suitably hot temperatures and sufficient water for acceptable fruiting, the Jujube tree can actually withstand cooler temperatures and rainfall better than some other fruiting plants.
It is also extremely versatile and used around the world for a variety of different purposes. In Iran, Pakistan and India, Jujube dates are used mostly as a dried date, however, in most other countries, it is eaten as a fresh, green date. Both forms are equally as delicious. In Great Britain, it is typically served dried alongside afternoon tea. In Korea, China and Taiwan, they are most commonly used as a sweet syrup. In fact, both China and Korea produce a sweetened tea syrup which contain the Jujube fruit, as well as canned Jujube tea, or tea in the form of teabags. In Croatia, Jujube fruit is used in marmalades, juices and fruit brandy (rakija). To a lesser extent, Jujube dates are sometimes used in the production of certain types of vinegar and wine.
Whichever way they are consumed, the Jujube date fruit contains multiple vitamins, including vitamin A, B2 and C, as well as essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorous and iron. Jujube fruit is often utilised for its medicinal properties and is even used as an herbal drug. Its use can relieve constipation, strengthen the function of the liver and digestive system and increase kidney health. It can also be an effective remedy for hoarseness, tiredness and for those who suffer with asthma. Eaten regularly, it can encourage hair growth and increase muscle strength.
Further benefits of the Jujube fruit include its ability to treat irregular heartbeat and excessive sweating, and it also has use as a blood purifier and digestion aid. It is considered to be an astringent fruit, and can even help to prevent cancer. In Iran, Jujube dates are even used within traditional medicine and are recommended for the treatment of common ailments such as a cough, cold, sore throat or flu.