Old Homestead Tree And Fruit – Mystery Solved

by Texas Homesteader

When we obtained our remote-pasture property last year I knew there was once an old homestead on the property years ago – the house long gone now.  I love that this property also has an old 1880’s barn. That’s my favorite barn era and I’m so blessed to have two of these beautiful old barns now!  I’m ready to roll up my sleeves & restore this beautiful structure to its previous glory much like we did years ago with the 1880’s barn here on our ranch.

In searching for the identity of fruit trees at an old homestead we consulted the extension agent. The answer was received! #TexasHomesteader

In walking around the property I can see the original animal pens and where old outbuildings were erected – I can dream of the lives once lived on this very land.  I know where the house once stood and I can see the overgrown layout they apparently used for their pens, garden area, and what appeared to be an orchard with some kind of fruit trees – only a tangled thicket now.  An old timer that still lives around the property told me the old homestead used to raise fruit trees in that orchard, although he couldn’t remember what kind.  Since I couldn’t tell what kind of trees they were I contacted our extension agent and she consulted with master naturalists to try to solve the mystery.

The master naturalists studied pictures I sent them of the limb structure & the leaves. These trees had thick, heavy, glossy-green leaves. I found it interesting that there were three veins running the length of each leaf.

In searching for the identity of fruit trees at an old homestead we consulted the extension agent. The answer was received! #TexasHomesteader
They also studied the photos of the bark looking for clues to the tree’s identity.

In searching for the identity of fruit trees at an old homestead we consulted the extension agent. The answer was received! #TexasHomesteader

The immature fruit emerged around May/June, looking much like an olive in size, shape and color.

In searching for the identity of fruit trees at an old homestead we consulted the extension agent. The answer was received! #TexasHomesteader

Inside each tiny fruit was a small pit, sharply pointed at both ends.

In late August, the fruits began to ripen, turning mottled green/dark red at first, then a deep red/brown color.  They seemed very sweet to the taste, and the texture was similar to a spongy apple.  The taste was also somewhat similar to apple, but much sweeter.

In searching for the identity of fruit trees at an old homestead we consulted the extension agent. The answer was received! #TexasHomesteaderThe answer was finally received – a Jujube tree!  I’d never heard of them so I hit the internet to see what I could find out.  I read that they are also referred to as a Japanese Date, introduced to the U.S. back in the 1800’s many old homesteads in Texas grew them as they have little to no natural pests and can survive and even produce prolifically with very little water.  I’m enamored with these little fruits and I’m looking for ways to preserve them.  I’m reading they can be dehydrated and used in similar ways as raisins – that appeals to me since raisins are often purchased by me for use in my homemade granola as well as desserts for a natural sweetener.  Here’s a way I can provide that sweet flavor on my own.  I’m experimenting with different ways to preserve this fruit – read how I’m preserving the jujubes!

~TxH~

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25 thoughts on “Old Homestead Tree And Fruit – Mystery Solved

  1. Sas

    What a great story! Congratulations on your find. Were you ever told by the extension officer which variety of Jujube you have on your property? As you know there are over 700 different varieties of Jujube in China and over 40 currently in the US.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Evidence Of (Another) Old Homestead

  3. Rachael

    Awesome! I was sure they were going to be olives, but I had no idea jujubes were common in the states…let alone Texas. They look interesting; I’d love to try some one day!

    Reply
  4. Kathi

    I’ve never heard of jujube trees. It’s quite intriguing. I bet they’d grow well here in Oklahoma too, and being drought-resistant is a big plus. Your old barn is wonderful! Thank you for joining us at the HomeAcre Hop this week; I hope you’ll link up again this Thursday.

    Reply
  5. Kristin

    Thanks for sharing on Wildcrafting Wednesdays! I hope you’ll join us again and share more of your awesome posts in the future.
    http://www.herbanmomma.com

    Reply
  6. Joyce

    How wonderful to have so much of the past right in your own backyard. Our land was just a forest long ago. The family that the road is named after still lives here and shared with us their memories of growing up here. While we don’t have the history you do it is nice to know something about the place you live.

    Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays With a Twist.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Mary, I thought the same when I first saw the green fruits back in June/July – they were olive sized & shaped and had a pointed pit in the center. Although I enjoy a good olive every now & then, I’m really glad this is a jujube tree, the sweet fruits are amazing! ~TMR~

      Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve heard of the candy called jujube although I never tasted it. I heard it referred to in an old movie, maybe the candy was named that because of how sweet the fruit is? I don’t know but I’m really enjoying preserving these fruits! ~TMR~

      Reply
  7. Vickie

    I have also heard of the Jujube tree but have never seen one! I wonder if that is where they got the name for the jujube candy? I will certainly be interested to see what you do with the fruit. Thanks for the pictures and info!

    Reply
  8. Shellie

    That is so cool! I had never heard of these trees before your post either-thank you for sharing them with us! We too have discovered hidden gems on our land from cherry trees, wild blackberry thickets, wild mulberry trees and a peach tree. We knew about one apple tree when we bought it but have since discovered another. And for us, we are trying to add to the glorious diversity by planting more apple trees, more mulberry trees and reintroducing paw paw trees.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      How exciting Shellie! We have a few wild plum trees here on the ranch, although the back-to-back droughts have eliminated most of them. We also have persimmons and although the fruit itself is very sweet, I can’t get past the dry taste of the skins and I’m not sure how to easily remove skins without imparting that taste to the puree. Still working on that one… We also have another fruit tree grove but I’m not sure what it is – maybe cherry? We’ve never been able to harvest much from that small area. I do harvest quite a few blackberries and pecans, it’s very satisfying. ~TMR~

      Reply

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