Ziziphus jujuba (from Greek ζίζυφον, zizyfon), commonly called jujube (sometimes jujuba), red date, Chinese date, Korean date, or Indian date is a species of Ziziphus in the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae), used primarily as a shade tree that also bears fruit. The fruit is a red, olive-sized fruit with a leathery skin with a prune-like flavor.
It is a small deciduous tree or shrub reaching a height of 5 to 10 metres (16 to 33 feet), usually with thorny branches. The leaves are shiny-green, ovate-acute, 2 to 7 centimetres (0.79 to 2.8 in) wide and 1 to 3 centimetres (0.39 to 1.2 inches) broad, with three conspicuous veins at the base, and a finely toothed margin. The flowers are small, 5 millimetres (0.20 inches) wide, with five inconspicuous yellowish-green petals. The fruit is an edible oval drupe 1.5 to 3 centimetres (0.59 to 1.2 inches) deep; when immature it is smooth-green, with the consistency and taste of an apple, maturing brown to purplish-black and eventually wrinkled, looking like a small date. There is a single hard stone similar to an olive stone.
The freshly harvested as well as the candied dried fruits are often eaten as a snack, or with coffee. 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 vinegar (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, Jordan and other middle-eastern countries, 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. Ziziphus jujuba 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. jujuba: 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. jujuba.
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.