Hector’s Honey, Wednesday and Saturday markets has fresh jujubes. Bohemian Well Being Town (mostly mushrooms) has dried jujubes year round. Fresh jujubes are very hard to find.
The jujube is a little known fruit, but is gaining momentum in Western cultures for its high amount of vitamins and minerals. It has been used for thousands of years in Asian countries by medicine men and herbalists alike. The jujube is not named after the popular candy from childhood, but rather, the other way around.
The freshly harvested as well as the candied dried fruits are often eaten as a snack, or with tea. They are available in either red or black (called hóng zǎo or hēi zǎo, respectively, in Chinese), the latter being smoked to enhance their flavor. In China and Korea, a sweetened tea syrup containing jujube fruits is available in glass jars, and canned jujube tea or jujube tea in the form of teabags is also available. Although not widely available, jujube juice and jujube vinega (called 枣醋 or 红枣醋 in Chinese) are also produced; they are used for making pickles (কুলের আচার) in West Bengal and Bangladesh.
In China, a wine made from jujubes, called hong zao jiu (红枣酒) is also produced. Jujubes are sometimes preserved by storing in a jar filled with baijiu (Chinese liquor), which allows them to be kept fresh for a long time, especially through the winter. Such jujubes are called jiu zao (酒枣; literally “spirited jujube”). These fruits, often stoned, are also a significant ingredient in a wide variety of Chinese delicacies. In Korea, jujubes are called daechu (대추) and are used in Daechucha teas and samgyetang.
In Lebanon, the fruit is eaten as snacks or alongside a dessert after a meal.
In Persian cuisine, the dried drupes are known as annab, while in neighboring Azerbaijan it is commonly eaten as a snack, and are known as innab. Z. zizyphus grows in northern Pakistan and is known as Innab, commonly used in the Tibb Unani system of medicine. There seems to be quite a widespread confusion in the common name. The Innab is Z. zizyphus: the local name Ber is not used for Innab. Rather Ber is used for three other cultivated or wild species i.e. Z. spina-christi, Z. mauritiana and Z. nummularia in Pakistan and parts of India and is eaten both fresh and dried. Often the dry fruit (Ber) was used as a padding in leather horse-saddles in parts of Baluchistan in Pakistan. The Arabic names Sidr is used for Ziziphus species other than Z. zizyphus.
Jujube fruit is called ilanthappazham(ഇലന്തപ്പഴം) or badari(ബദരി) in Malayalam, ilanthai pazham (இலந்தை பழம்) in Tamil-speaking regions, “Yelchi Hannu” in Kannada and “Regi pandu” in Telugu. Traditionally, the fruits are dried in the sun and the hard nuts are removed. Then, it is pounded with tamarind, red chillies, salt, and jaggery. Small dishes are made from this dough and again dried in the sun, and are referred to as ilanthai vadai. In some parts of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, fresh whole ripe fruit is crushed with the above ingredients and dried under the sun to make delicious cakes called ilanthai vadai or “Regi Vadiyalu” (Telugu).
In Madagascar, jujube fruits are eaten fresh or dried. People also use those fruits to make jam.
The jujube, also known as ziziphus, is grown and cultivated in India, Russia southern Europe, China and the middle East. The fruit has been used in Chinese medicine for over 4,000 years. In 1908, a plant explorer for the USDA introduced it to North America and soon after, other cultivars were selected from seedlings. In California, the jujube is grown for just a few niche markets.
According to a study published in Volume 103 Issue 2 of the journal, Food Chemistry, jujube contains the potassium, phosphorus, manganese and calcium as the major minerals. There are also high amounts of sodium, zinc, iron and copper. Jujube also contains vitamin c, riboflavin and thiamine. It contains 20 times the amount of vitamin C as citrus fruits. The vitamin and mineral content of the fruit helps to soothe the stomach, ease sore throats, suppress the appetite, support cardiovascular health, enhance metabolism and cleanse the blood vessels.
The body requires 24 amino acids to function, and the jujube fruit contains 18 of the 24. Amino acids help with the maintenance and formation of the bones, skin, muscle, bloods, hormones, neurotransmitters and enzymes in the body. They are also essential to the building of more that 50,000 proteins made by the human body. Amino acids assist the body in healing wounds and diseases.
A study was published in the April 21 2009 issue of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in which the protective effects of jujube fruit on the liver were investigated. It was found that the fruit protected the liver against injury in mice. It also helped to eliminate oxidative stress in the liver. Oxidative stress is when free radicals form in the body and interact with cells. Free radicals can lead to many diseases.
The water extract of jujube fruit was studied by the Vaccine and Serum Research Institute in Iran. In the study, which was published in the February 2008 issue of Cytotechnology, it was found that this extract inhibited tumor cells, and may have useful compounds for medicinal use. It was especially useful against Jurkat leukemic cells, which are related to leukemia.