Silk Road Adventure – Visiting a Jujube or “Red Dates” Farm

We missed a turning at route 312 and ended up being invited by a farmer to visit his red dates farm. It was an impressive 50 acres of farm planted with red dates. The ones we used to see here in Malaysia and Singapore are the dried dates but seeing red dates on a tree is something new to all of us. Not to mention the “eat all you can” offer by the farmer. He was a gracious host.

Red date, also known as Chinese date or jujube, has been listed in the five important fruits in China, namely, peach, plum, waxberry, apricot and red date, since ancient times. It has a long history.

According to historical statistics, the red date is a special species with a long tradition and a high reputation in its birthplace China. Archeologists have found the fossil of a date core in the cultural site of Feiligang, Xinzheng, which is a testament to its 8000-plus-year history of production in China. As early as the Western Zhou Dynasty, fermented red dates were used to make red date wine, which was served as a tribute or used to treat guests and friends. In the remote antiquity, people had found that red dates could supplement nutrition and improve health conditions. Han Feizi recorded how the Qin State used red dates and chestnuts to relieve famines. That explains why the folks have been regarded the red date as one of the major crops.

The medical properties of the red dates were found and recorded quite early in history. For example, starting from Shengnong’s Classic of Materia Medica (Shennong Bencao Jing), medical works from the succeeding dynasties also included relevant records and increasingly deepened understandings of their abilities to preserve health and cure diseases. Up till now, the red dates have been regarded as an important tonic. According to Compendium of Materia Medica (Bencao Gangmu) written by Li Shizhen, the red dates are sweet and warm-natured; they can nourish the middle warmer and replenish qi, nourish the blood and alleviate thirst; they can be used to cure diseases such as spleen hypofunction, poor appetite and diabetes, qi-blood deficiency, etc. If eaten regularly, they can strengthen the body, and cure diseases such as neurasthenic, imbalance of the spleen and the stomach, indigestion, cough, anemia and over thinness. In particular, they are effective to preserve the liver and prevent cancers. There is a saying, “Three dates a day keeps wrinkles away.” Now, the red dates also serve as one of the major dry fruit ingredients in Chinese cuisines. In about the first century AD, the red dates were introduced to the Mediterranean and West Europe through Syria and in the 19th century to North America from Europe. – source internet.


Jujubes tree.


Fresh Jujubes waiting for packing into boxes


The workers packed the jujubes or red dates into boxes for shipment


The farmer and his assistants drying some of the jujubes.

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