Preserving The Harvest: Jujube Fruit

by Texas Homesteader
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I recently wrote about stumbling upon an overgrown orchard at an old homestead property we obtained.  The extension agent and master naturalists identified the trees as Jujube, the fruit is also known as Japanese Dates.  I read that the fruit can be dehydrated and used in the place of raisins.  This really appeals to me as I’d love to replace something I purchase with something I preserve myself.  I experimented with several methods of preserving this sweet fruit.

The old trees at the abandoned homestead were Jujube Fruit. I experimented with different ways to preserve the fruit - come see! #TexasHomesteader

About The Jujube

The fruit itself is small, about the size of a large olive.  And each fruit contains a sharp pit, pointed on both ends.  In researching different ways to preserve them I found that the preferred method was either by making into Jujube butter or by dehydrating.  My preference  is dehydration.   I can use the sweet dehydrated fruit the same as I currently do with raisins as a natural sweetener in my homemade Pumpkin Granola and in desserts.  So I set out to find the easiest way to dehydrate.

I took some of the whole washed fruits and cut several slits lengthwise to accommodate even drying through the skins and placed them in my *solar oven dehydrator.

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Trying To Dehydrate Jujube

While this method wasn’t difficult, holding these tiny fruits while trying to slice the somewhat-tough skin was just asking for trouble with my occasionally-clumsy hands.  What else could I try…  I decided to try to slice the fruit away from the pit and then chop the resulting slices to allow them to dehydrate in raisin-like sizes.  This was much safer, but very time consuming.

Humm…  Those skins appear to be just a little tough as they dry, how can I make that less of an issue?  Next I attempted to grate these tiny fruits away from the pit.  This was even more time consuming, but I think yielded my most preferred results.

Grating Jujubes For Better Drying

Since my solar-oven dehydrator was busy dehydrating the whole fruits, I simply grated several of the fruits onto some parchment paper and placed the tray in the oven, turned the oven on for about one minute and turned it back off.  I repeated that step maybe 2-3 times to keep the oven lightly warm and then left the tray in the oven overnight to finish dehydrating.

I like the texture of the grated dehydrated fruits the best.  The sweetness of the fruit really comes through and the texture to me is similar to toasted coconut – lightly crunchy on the outside yet still pliable.  This will be the PERFECT accompaniment to my granola.  But there had to be an easier way!

Easier Pitting Of Jujubes

In asking for suggestions from Facebook friends someone SO MUCH SMARTER than me suggested using a cherry pitter.  Now WHY didn’t I think of that?  I have an very inexpensive pitter I bought last year from a thrift store in anticipation of having wild plums this year (sadly there were none due to continued drought)  I pulled out the pitter and started processing the fruits with it.  Those sharp pits exiting the pitter were pretty rough on fingers sometimes but this method let me go through many fruits much faster than the other methods.

I put the pitted fruits on a oven-proof tray.  The same oven dehydration method as the grated fruits above was used.  When they had semi-dried I placed the fruits in a blender to chop everything up uniformly.  Then I spread them again on the tray to finish dehydrating.  Although I love the shredded fruits the best, this offers a very good option.  Much less time was needed hovering over tiny fruits trying to separate fruit & pit.

All in all I was pretty pleased with the taste & texture of all the different methods except the whole fruits. I think in my quest  to make sure they would not have moisture to mold in storage I over dried them and they are a little harder than I like. But I know I can reconstitute them with water & still be able to use them.

The old trees at the abandoned homestead were Jujube Fruit. I experimented with different ways to preserve the fruit - come see! #TexasHomesteader

I’ll be harvesting these fruits and dehydrating every year from now on – I’m totally in love with them.  Bon Apetit!

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~TxH~

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35 thoughts on “Preserving The Harvest: Jujube Fruit

  1. Kekipi K

    Fresh jujubes are not hugely sweet, but dehydration concentrates the sweetness somewhat. They are still considerably less sweet than raisins, though. These fruits are sold in bulk in China in a partially dehydrated state, with the skin somewhat wrinkly but overall still pliable. They will keep in this condition, unrefrigerated, for a very, very long time, so it doesn’t seem necessary to dry them to hardness. The first time you taste one, you may be put off by the unique flavor, but you will grow to love it. They are especially good in millet porridge.
    There are also quite a few secondary products made with jujube in China: jujubes candied in malt syrup, jujube paste/jam for filling pastries, etc.
    I was curious about the cherry pitter — whenever I have been able to obtain fresh jujube, the flesh was more like that of the apple than that of a cherry or peach, so I was wondering how one would use a cherry pitter on the fresh fruit. But in the partially dehydrated condition I describe, I should think the cherry pitter would work very well.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’m not sure if our jujubes here are the same size as those sold commercially (I’ve never seen them elsewhere) but our jujubes were very small – maybe the size of a green olive. The seed was a good part of the fruit too. The cherry pitter assisted quite a bit, but it was still a semi-laborious task to remove those pits through the tough skin. But I did enjoy the flavor of the jujubes in my granola when they were dried. ~TxH~

      Reply
  2. glendag

    wish i could say the same, i got a gift of some about marble size, they are more than ready to dehydrate but getting the pit out is not an option, when trying to remove pit it takes nearly all the pulp away from the skin and with the pit so not free stones in these. they are red and more than ready. i want to know if dehydrating them with pit in is any problem??

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I can’t imagine how you’d use them that way glendag. I know pitting the jujubes was a major thing with me and the whole reason I experimented with various ways to succeed. I wonder, if your jujubes are small – could you maybe boil them down and then make jam with the pulp? Hummm….

      Reply
  3. Phil Cupples

    I have been looking for years to find the name of the fruit we used to eat in Cloutierville, La. When I was a kid. I have not seen any since. You are so lucky.
    I live in Mansfield ,Texas. Do you ever have any small new trees come up. I would love to buy one if you do. Have you ever thought to make jam or jelly out of some.

    Reply
  4. KT

    “I have an very inexpensive pitter I bought last year from a thrift store…”

    Can you tell me what thrift store has the cherry pitter in your picture?

    Thanks,
    Kerr

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL KT – I don’t remember, RancherMan & I frequent many thrift stores including Goodwill, My Sister’s Closet, etc. We stumbled on this inexpensive lightweight plastic pitter and it’s done fine for the most part but I’m now looking for a heavier one like this –> http://amzn.to/1pwG1SS . (They’re not expensive to buy, but I’m looking for a used one for environmental reasons…)

      Reply
  5. Cheryl

    What an interesting post! I don’t think I’ll ever have a chance/need/opportunity to preserv any jujube fruit, but how fun to learn about it! I love it when you share your talents with us at The Yuck Stops Here recipe link party! Can’t wait to see what you’ll be bringing to the party next week! HUGS

    Reply
  6. daisy

    Hmmmm, never heard of these. Congrats on making a fabulous discovery and then figuring out how to best preserve them! Something to cross off of your grocery list! Thanks for sharing on this week’s Maple Hill Hop!

    Reply
  7. Jo May

    I’ve enjoyed reading. I’ve got to google and find out more about this wonderful fruit, I’ve never heard of it. Very interesting, we have some palm trees down by the pond, it has date on it, I guess I need to google and see if they are edible, the fruits look just like this.

    Reply
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  10. Mindie

    What a neat adventure. I will admit to giggling when I got to the part about the pitter. Sometimes the most obviouse answers are the hardest to see! Thanks for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist. Looking forward to seeing what you share this week.

    Co-host
    Mindie ~ http://bornagainfarmgirl.blogspot.com/

    Reply
        1. Texas Homesteader Post author

          That’s a good idea Misha, I’ll try the meat grinder next time. I tried tasting them fresh in different degrees of ripeness. When the fruit’s skin is tight and still red colored the taste is similar to an apple – crisp and sweet. When the skin is more wrinkled and red/brown the fruit tastes more like a plum. Delicious either way! But for preserving I prefer to have the skin wrinkled & red/brown, the pit is easier to remove and quicker to dry.

          Reply
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  12. Zenda

    What a find!! Isn’t it fun learning and experimenting! Glad you found the method of preservation you like best. Keep us posted with any good recipes you use them in!

    Reply
  13. Linda Butcher

    They are really healthy, too! Quote from kaleidoscope.cutural-china.com:
    JUJUBE, the dark red fruit known as Chinese date, is both a popular snack and a very nutritious and therapeutic food praised in classics of herbal medicine.
    Three jujubes a day keeps the doctor away and keeps you young, the saying goes.
    In the legend “Journey to the West,” an ailing king one day encounters the god of longevity in a forest and asks him for the secret of life. The god says he didn’t bring medicine along since he was trying to find his lost horse, but he gave the king three jujubes that he had been planning to give to the god of heaven. The king ate the three jujubes and felt instantly invigorated.

    Reply
  14. Barbara

    I think this is so awesome. To find yourself the owner of an exotic fruit tree that is far from common. I for one, had never heard of it. The cherry pitter was a good idea. Glad you found a workable solution for them. I just googled the tree out of curiosity and you can purchase the trees for $32.95. Who knows what it would cost to get it shipped (or if you could purchase local?). Then the love and care to get it to fruit bearing stage, wow, what a find you have. Love it and just the fact that the tree and barn still exist! I am a lover of all old things. Wonderful! God left these presents just for you and your husband to come along and preserve them for the future.

    Reply
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