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What is a Red Date?

Mandi R. Hall
Mandi R. Hall

A red date, also known as a jujube, is a prune-like fruit. Despite its common name, a jujube is not actually a date. Thick skinned and meaty with two seeds inside, a jujube is often described as a cross between a prune and an apple. From a family of Chinese plants called the ziziphus, this fruit is cultivated in many countries across the globe, particularly south and central China and India.

The tree on which a red date grows is fairly durable and can generally withstand rough weather. The trees are leafy and the leaves fall off after yellowing in the autumn. Hot summers and plenty of water are required for a jujube fruit’s ideal sweetness. In fact, jujubes seem to thrive in extremely hot weather, provided there is an ample water supply.

Red dates may be used for medicinal purposes.
Red dates may be used for medicinal purposes.

The actual red date sizes range from approximately one to two inches (2.5cm to 5cm) wide, and the fruits are fairly rounded in shape. The skin is edible and reflects a deep reddish orange color with yellow splotches. After it's ripened, the red date begins to wrinkle and eventually turn into what appears to be a very large raisin. The skin also darkens into a murky brown or maroon hue. The entire ripening process usually takes a couple of months, though the last leg of the process — the wrinkling and browning of the fruit — takes roughly one week.

The red dates may be left to dry on the tree, or they may be taken off of the tree. Once dried, they are ready to eat. In many regions, the seeds are removed before consumers receive the fruits.

There are many culinary uses for red dates. They may be eaten from the hand as a snack, or as an accompaniment to tea. Prepackaged or fresh from the farm or produce market, jujubes are small enough to carry around.

The fruits may also be juiced or made into wine, syrup, or jelly. Jujubes also make for a sticky, thickly sweet topping or filling for a unique pastry or dessert. Due to their substantial, fleshy qualities, once they are blended or pureed in a food processor, a gooey concoction is made. Simmering or steaming them beforehand is suggested, as the dryness of the red date can cause difficulties with the blades in a fruit processor.

In many countries, the red date is used for medicinal purposes, as well. They are not only believed to alleviate stress, but also to promote romance and fertility. Jujube scents may also be used in potpourri packets. It is also worth mentioning that these jujubes are not related to the candy jujubes.

Discussion Comments


Is it better to have ju ju be dry or fresh for the most nutrition benefits? I have found many recipes for using dry ju ju be but not any for fresh.

Does this mean that ju ju be is not as tasty when fresh. Is that why it is not preferred?


Sometimes I run into red dates at the farmers market. I've bought some a couple of times and have used it in meat dishes, salads or cakes.

It tastes very good when cooked with butter. Once I made steak and made a topping with onions and red date cooked in butter.

I also include it in salads to add some sweetness and you can include red date in so many desserts. It can take the place of cranberries, dates or raisins if you have a recipe with one of those. Or you can just let it soften a bit in water if it is too dry and include it in your bread mix with nuts.

There are many many different uses for it. When I find something different like red dates I always give it a try. I think that the best nutrition is one that has so many different types of food in it. Plus, global cuisine and foods are always exciting to work with and eat.


I have trouble sleeping and I have tried many different herbal teas like Chamomile, Linden and Valerian tea. But I haven't liked the flavor of any of these and haven't been able to drink it every day which doesn't really help.

I really like the flavor of red date tea though. This tea tastes sweet and mild.I have a cup or two before going to bed and I feel much more relaxed and fall asleep more quickly.

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    • Red dates may be used for medicinal purposes.
      By: Dionisvera
      Red dates may be used for medicinal purposes.