Happy Chinese New Year and welcome to the rabbit!
On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone (wiki). The celebrations actually last 15 days which begin on the day of the New Moon.
The year of the rabbit, which starts Feb 3rd 2011, predicts a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves, a time to focus on home, family, friends and security. By surrounding yourself with a peaceful environment you will be able to deal calmly with issues or problems that may cross your path. Sounds good?
I am symbolically celebrating with friends in Chinatown this coming Saturday night. I can’t wait it should be a really fun night. Now for this post I wanted to stay with the theme and one of my ‘should have blogged a WAY long time ago’ ideas fits perfectly as I will introduce you to an exotic fruit which claims its origins in China: the Jujube.
I first discovered this fruit on a trip to Chinatown with my fellow food blogger and friend Claudia. I was the lead this time for our foodie day and I chose lunch and a bit of shopping in Chinatown to start. I took Claudia to Mon Nam for the 3 service duck special, then a bit of Chinese grocery shopping, followed by a trip to Monkland village for candies, cupcakes and the awesome Monkland Gourmet Cuisine cooking store. Please read Claudia’s post of our outing over at her blog Foodessa, she writes beautifully and I cannot top her description of our wonderful day.
But I digress, let’s get back to topic here, the Jujube. I love going to ethnic groceries store, buying an unknown produce and then researching it. The jujube was my victim this time around. I found them at this time in their fresh state but they go bad very quick unless you dry them properly. Fresh, the jujube has a bit of an apple look and taste, dried it resembles more a date. The jujube is actually nicknamed the Chinese Date and it is often marked as a date in the Asian grocery store.
Chinese traditional medicine claims this fruit has the power to alleviate stress and can help sore throats. As a food this fruit has been served as a sweet snack or in teas. Wine can even be made from jujubes. Finally jujubes is claimed to help people fall in love and is a sign of fertility.
The jujube originates from China and has been cultivated for over 4,000 years. Of course today it is grown in various parts of the world. When ripe the fruit is about the size of a plum and is yellowish green with mahogany spots. The pictures above indicate prime fresh ripeness, late summer to early fall. The flesh is crisp and white and tastes a little like an apple. In the middle you will mind a single hard stone. As mentioned before, they remains fresh a week max and then turn to mush.
In there dried state (see pics below) they will last indefinitely. I bought these again in Chinatown about a month later. You will find two forms or dried jujubes: dried on the tree or picked fresh and treated with sulfur as a preservative. Obviously this is not indicated when you buy it, but good to know. I did find a recipe here on how to dry them yourself naturally.
Since I had a bag full of these dried beauties I wanted to make them the star of a recipe…no small feat to find let me tell you. Finally I settled on this Jujube Cake recipe. A really easy and quick recipe to prepare, the result is a nice dense and chewy cake, like a date cake a bit, but lighter and fruitier.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 cups dried, minced jujube
- 1 cup water
Bring these to a boil then set aside to cool
- 2 cups wheat flour (I used white AP flour)
- 1 teaspoonful baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoonful salt
Sift these together then add to the above mixture. Bake at 325° F until toothpick comes out clean (sorry don’t remember how long it took, 20 ish min?)
Hello All, First time poster and looking forward to being a part of the conversation .
Evelyne, I am embarrassed to tell you that I never had jujube in spite of my Taiwanese heritage…but U sure had the dry dates, my mom cooks in sweets and savory dishes…thanks for such an informative post 🙂
I’ve never heard of jujube before, how neat! I would certainly love to try this cake!
To me, jujube was candy. 🙂 Thanks for yet another discovery! That cake looks nice and hearty! Happy New Year!
Thanks to my great friend, I was lucky enough to get to taste this cake!! It was great, and I can’t wait until Evelyne makes it again!!
Aha! I had heard someone talking about jujubes at work a while ago and meant to research them but totally forgot until now. Very interesting!
Also, happy new rabbity year to you 😀
I can honestly say I’ve never eaten a jujube before, but I’m sure it lent an interesting flavor to you cake. If it tastes like dates when dried, I wonder if you can use it to make sticky jujube pudding?
Glad to come across your site, very interesting.
Evelyne, You know a lot about Chinese New Year tradtions. Over the years, we dropped many but one that we still practice is the tea ceremony for the elders on the first day of Chinese New Year.
I never even knew about jujube until now. It looks like a mix between an apple and a tomato. But, I bet it tastes better than that. heheh. The cake looks awesome and would go great with my jasmine tea.
Great post about Chinese New Year, we only celebrate the Chinese tradition for the first two days.
I have definitely heard of Jujube but never had one :/ … after reading this post I now know that I need to have it asap. If it’s anything like a date then I will definitely love it!
Thank you for sharing – great post!
Dired fruits? count me in. I love it. I try to dry fruits as much as possible to use them in healthy meals and yours look great!
Now, what can I say about the cake? Isn’t it a great treat for this cold weather with a cup of tea? Oh my.. that would be heaven.
Dried fruits are some of my favorite snacks. I’d love to add a new one to my repertoire…. I’ll have to keep an eye out for these!
I do love when you digress…especially when you make me blush over a little flattery. LOL
Alright, enough of my digressions.
I finally get the real scoop of these Chinese originating gems. I’ll be linking your great descriptive post to our date from the past ;o)
I like the cake you made with it and I could also imagine Jujube oatmeal squares made with them to.
Because of you, I won’t run away when I see fresh Jujube next time. I’ll embrace them as well as making sure I dry them myself in order to avoid the worrisome preservative of sulfur!
Another great informative post…thanks Evelyne ;o)
Ciao for now,
Thanks for inspiration. Now going to try to find these on next trip to Chinatown. They look fabulous!
I was stunned to see your post! Jujube is also loved in Lebanon and last summer I practically ate kilos of the thing, I love them when they are sweet and crunchy. Now unlike the Chinese the Lebanese don’t eat them dry. Now when I found out about the jujube (called ennabe in lebanese) being called a date in China, I wanted to find out more. Filippinos told me they use it in soups.
what fascinated me too was the fact that it is supposed to have 20 times as much vitamins are regular apples. Well, I am all for spreading the word about the jujube. Love what you did with it!
I remember Joumana your post on it and I am so happy you learned more too now. Did not write it before but your are right about their nutritional values:
Amount of vitamin C, which is present in the jujube fruit is 20 times higher than it is in any other citrus fruits. Along with vitamin C, jujube fruit also contains many important vitamins from vitamin B complex family, like vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6. Jujube fruit benefits are more significant because of the presence of the important minerals in the jujube fruit. These minerals include – manganese, potassium, iron, calcium and phosphorous. Along with the above mentioned nutritions, jujube fruits are also loaded with 18 out of the 24 important amino acids. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/jujube-fruit-benefits.html