Also known as Chinese date or red date, the jujube is a small, oval fruit with a light green exterior that turns reddish brown and wrinkly as the fruit ripens. The fruit contains a single hard stone. Jujube trees grow well in most farming areas in California as they have few pests and need long, hot, dry summers to produce good fruit. They are very tolerant of heat, drought and winter cold snaps. Knowles Ryerson, in his book California Fruits, writes, “the jujube asks less and gives more abundantly of its fruits than almost any other tree.”
Some say it is similar in taste to apple, but the jujube is more sweet than tart and has a dry, spongy texture. Jujubes can be eaten, fresh, dried, pickled or preserved, and they have many uses in Asian cuisines and traditional medicine. They’re also an excellent source of vitamin C. Look for jujubes at the farmers market in early fall.