Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba Mill), also know as Chinese date, is native to China and has been grown and enjoyed for over 4,000 years. The tree is deciduous and is grown as an ornamental fruiting tree that can reach 30–40 feet tall (grown on a standard root stock). Mature trees can produce between 40–100 pounds of fruit per season. Some varieties have spines on their branches and should be handled with care when planting.
Choosing a Variety
Li Jujube–a popular cultivar, produces large, round fruit that can weigh up to 3 oz. Good picked at the yellow-green stage and eaten fresh .
Lang Jujube–Very popular variety that produces large pear-shaped fruit. Best to eat fruit dried.
Honey Jar Jujube–fruit is round to elongated and small to medium sized. Excellent for fresh eating, very sweet and crisp. Tree grows to 20 feet.
Shanxi Li Jujube–the most popular fresh eating variety in China. Medium to large fruit that has a sweet apple flavor. Very productive tree.
Soil–jujube trees can grow in a wide range of soil types and pH ranges, but good drainage is required.
Water–once the trees are established, they can be very drought tolerant, but for good yields, trees should be watered.
Fertilizing–trees will survive with little additional fertilizing, however, for the best yields, feed with a fruit tree fertilizer once the tree is established. No need to fertilize a newly planted tree.
Sun–requires full sun to thrive and they love in hot and dry regions.
Trees will put out sprouts (suckers) from the roots that should be removed at or below the soil level. Best to do the main pruning during the dormant season, suckers can be removed at any time.
Harvesting the Fruit
Fruit will change color from dark green to yellow-green and when fully mature, the fruit will be a rich reddish-brown to red color (September to October, depending on the variety).
The maturation can be divided into three phases:
- White mature–fruit is close to full size and skin changes from green to greenish-white.
- Crisp mature–fruit is full size and skin has changed color to partially reddish-brown. Flesh is still crisp and is very sweet.
- Fully mature–Skin changes color to fully red and is wrinkled. Flesh is very sweet but drier.
To eat fresh, pick when fruit is still firm, like an apple. The stage is the white or crisp mature stage.
If the variety is best eaten dried, allow the fruit to hang on the tree until the skin wrinkles and is a red color.
How to Enjoy Jujube Fruit
Fresh–jujubes can be a substitute for apples in recipes. Add to salads, or eaten as a snack.
Dried–when picked dried (best variety for this is the Lang), jujubes can be added to recipes that call for dates or raisins, or add to your favorite trail mix recipe.
Jujube Tea is very easy to make and here is a site with the recipe, along with some interesting information about the health benefits of jujube fruit.
Nutritionally jujubes are high in vitamin C, flavonoids and other components that are beneficial.
Plant a jujube tree for some beauty, great eating and…grow organic for Life!