We’re welcoming a newbie to the Local Box this week–Jujube Dates! These small fruits, also known as Chinese dates, are both a popular snack and nutritious food, praised in classics of herbal medicine. This traditionally therapeutic fruit is now grown locally and is a delicious treat served both raw and dried. As one of the sweetest fruits, dates are rich in carbohydrates and provide your body with a healthy source of energy.These aren’t the dried, soft dates you may have encountered in the bulk section of the grocery store, however- the texture and flavor of fresh dates more closely resemble that of an apple. They also have a crazy long shelf life (up to 8 months in an airtight container in the fridge!)
Our local dates come from Lightsey Farms in Mexia, Texas! Lightsey Farms was founded in 1918 by Eric Lightsey. Now it’s run by his granddaughters, Mary and Lisa Lightsey Hadden. Lightsey sits on over one hundred acres of land, and the family grows multiple varieties of pears, dates, figs, persimmons, pomegranates, peas, veggies, and more! Some of the fruit trees are over 50 years old. Mary says the farm has been around for so long because the sandy, clay soil has been taken care of so well. Thanks to Mary, Lisa, and all the folks at Lightsey Farms for all your hard work- we can’t wait to try these dates!
As the saying goes, “Three jujubes a day keeps the doctor away!” Here are our top ways to serve this natural, GMO-free candy in your Local Box:
1. Blogger Jacqueline Pham uses fresh jujubes for her Fresh Jujube Tart with Walnut Cream recipe and it’s heavenly. She explains how these dates are less date-y and more like an apple, making it perfect in this tart.
2. This Chinese Chicken With Red Dates And Mushroom seriously couldn’t be easier. Throw all the ingredients in a pot, wait 30 minutes, and dinner is served! (Almost as easy as our slow cooker meal kits…)
3. Love dried dates? You can dry your fresh dates easily in your oven! Heat it to about 150°F, and arrange the fruit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking. The fruit should be left to dry for about a day. (But it’s usually a good idea to shut the oven’s power off intermittently, as the idea is not to cook the dates but rather to dehydrate them.) Check on the dates periodically, and turn them every few hours to make sure that all sides are exposed to the heat evenly.
4. Yaksik (약식) – This authentic Korean sweet rice dessert uses dried jujubes for a super sweet and light treat.
Have you tried Chinese dates before? Share what you’re making this week with us on Facebook and Twitter with the #LocalBox hashtag!