Name Variations Edit
- red dates
About Chinese date Edit
Wikipedia Article About Chinese date on Wikipedia
The Jujube, or Chinese Date (Simplified Chinese: 枣; Traditional Chinese: 棗; Hanyu Pinyin: zǎo; also hóng zǎo 红枣, dà zǎo, hēi zǎo, zǎozi; Wade–Giles: tsao; Korean: taechu 대추; Japanese: natsume ナツメ) is a small deciduous tree or shrub in the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae. Its scientific name is Ziziphus zizyphus, synonym Z. jujuba. It is thought to be native to North Africa and Syria, but moved east through India to China, where it has been cultivated for over 4,000 years. The tree can reach a height of 5–12 m, with shiny-green leaves, and sometimes thorns. The many inconspicuous flowers are small, greenish or white, and produce an olive-sized fruit that is a drupe.
The immature fruit is smooth-green, and resembles the consistency and taste of an apple, but as it matures more, it darkens to red to purplish-black and becomes wrinkled, looking like a small date (hence the name Chinese Date). There is a single hard stone, similar to an olive stone. In Persian cuisine, the dried drupes are known as annab.
The tree tolerates a wide range of temperatures, though it requires hot summers for good fruiting. Unlike most of the other species in the genus, it tolerates fairly cold winters, surviving temperatures down to about -15 °C.
The fruits are used in Chinese and Korean traditional medicine. Ziziphin, a compound in the leaves of the jujube, suppresses the ability to perceive sweet taste in humans. The fruit, being mucilaginous, is also very soothing to the throat and decoctions of jujube have often been used in pharmacy to treat sore throats.
In addition to their medicinal use, the dried fruits are often eaten as a snack, or with tea. They are available either red or black (called hóng zǎo or hēi zǎo, respectively, in Chinese), the latter being smoked to enhance their flavor.