Jujubes aren't just a tasty candy you can buy at the movie theater. They are also a fruit known as the Chinese red date. According to the California Rare Fruit Growers' website, jujubes have been cultivated in Asia for over 4,000 years. These versatile fruits can be made into desserts, used in stuffing, or dried and eaten as a snack.
Crack the Skins
Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil and dip the fruits in it for 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a bowl of cold or ice water. The skins will crack open, making the fruit more conducive to drying.
Lemon Juice Preservative
Soak the jujubes in a glass or stainless steel bowl filled with equal parts lemon juice and cold water. Make sure the fruits are completely submerged. Allow the fruits to soak for at least 10 minutes, then remove them from the bowl with a slotted spoon. Space the jujubes evenly on a towel and drain off any excess water. While not absolutely essential, this step extends the shelf life of the dried fruit.
Spread the fruit evenly on a drying sheet. Make sure that the fruits aren't touching one another, then dry them slowly at 140 F in a food dehydrator or oven. If your oven's lowest setting is too high, use it but prop the door open. As an alternative, you can put the jujubes on a metal cookie sheet, cover the sheet with a towel and place it on top of your radiator.
Test Your Jujubes
Check the fruits often, turning them to make sure they are drying evenly and have not developed mold. Drying time may be between six and 36 hours, depending on the size of the fruit, humidity level, and temperature and consistency of the heat source. Jujubes are dry when their skin becomes leathery but is still pliable and somewhat springy in texture.
Condition the Fruit
Once the jujubes are dry, store them in a loosely packed paper bag or glass jar for four to 10 days. Shake the container daily to separate the fruits so that they finish drying evenly and do not develop pockets of moisture or mold. Once the fruits are thoroughly dry, you can transfer them to plastic bags or an airtight container.
Jujubes can be eaten dried or reconstituted for use in desserts. Add salt if you like a snack that is both savory and sweet. To reconstitute the jujubes, soak them in warm water for at least an hour until they become plump and moist.
Rachel Greenleaf has been writing and publishing for over 15 years. Her literary work has appeared in publications including "Harvard Review," "Black Warrior Review" and "Barrow Street." She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University and a Master of Fine Arts from George Mason University.