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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU jujube fruit workshop at Alcalde includes tasting of Chinese dates

ALCALDE, N.M. - Have you heard about the jujube fruit and wondered how it tastes? You will have an opportunity to taste the fruit, commonly called Chinese date, and learn about the fruit's growing habits during a free workshop from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, at New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde.

NMSU fruit specialist Sheng-rui Yao will discuss the flowering and fruiting habits of the jujube tree, which has grown in her native country for more than 4,000 years. Yao is continuing a variety trial started by NMSU fruit specialist Ron Walser to see if jujubes could become an alternative crop for northern New Mexico.

"The jujubes are growing well at the Alcalde Center," Yao said. "We have had unique weather this year with a cooler spring and hot summer. Because of these weather conditions, the fruits' ripening is 10 to 14 days later than normal. They will be ready for harvest soon at Alcalde."

Jujube fruits are rich in vitamin C, with the fresh fruit containing 200 to 500 milligrams per 100 grams of the fruit.

"Several fresh jujube fruits a day will supply your daily requirement of vitamin C," Yao said. "The fruit can be eaten either as fresh or dried. Traditionally, the fruit is widely used in Chinese cooking for its nutritional value and medicinal effects."

The high amount of vitamins and minerals helps to soothe the stomach, ease sore throats, suppress the appetite, support cardiovascular health, enhance metabolism and cleanse the blood vessels, according to holistic medicine practitioners.

Shoppers at the Santa Fe Farmers' Market have learned about the fruit from Becky Thorpe, the only commercial jujube tree grower in New Mexico.

"When people taste the fruit, most get hooked on the flavor," Thorpe said of the shoppers she has introduced to the fruit since her first crop in 2005. "They say, 'Wow. This is great.' Not only do they purchase it then, but many become repeat customers."