Red Dates (also known as jujubes, or Chinese dates)
Traditional Chinese Name:
红枣 (hóng zǎo)
This is a MUST HAVE in your Chinese soup (or cooking) pantry! These little round, shriveled bright red fruit can come in a variety of sizes, cuts, shapes, and with or without seeds. The fresh fruit itself is seeded in its mature state produced by the Ziziphus zizyphus trees, which are commonly found in Asia and some parts of Europe and India. In Chinese cuisine, it’s actually one of our staple ingredients and I keep some in my kitchen pantry all year round. They are found in Chinese soups, desserts, stews, and dishes, as well as eaten as dried snacks and in teas.
How do I prepare it?
- The only preparation needed for dried red dates is to rinse with warm water and to pit the seeds if needed. To remove the seeds from the fruit, I use a pair of clean scissors and just snip them away (see video of the Red Dates and Longan Chinese Herbal Tea for preparation of the red dates). You can buy them pitted or unpitted at your local Chinese supermarket or wet market.
- It’s quite interesting to observe the varying firmness and hardness of these dried fruits. You’ll find red dates that are softer and squishier, so much easier to cut.
Where can I buy it?
- You can purchase red dates from most Asian supermarkets prepackaged
- You can also purchase this in bulk from specialty stores (online herbal shops)
- The one thing I did notice is that the Chinese prepared ones are different from Western prepared red dates. So just check to be sure they look like the above photos.
What is the cost?
A package costs around $3-5 CAD
- However, if you buy direct from the Chinese dried food stores, the prices will also range depending on the quality of the dried red dates and whether they are pitted or not, with pitted being more expensive.
- Red dates are known to assist in maintaining healthy blood pressure and assist the stomach and spleen in poor appetites
- It is also commonly used to address stress in drinks and teas
- Due to its sweetness, it is soothing to the throat and used to treat sore throats
- Red dates are an excellent source of Vitamin C
- A common ingredient found for Chinese confinement
Be sure you are buying red dates from a reputable source as some red dates do carry diseases
For soups, use pitted dates. The seeds are known to create “fire” in the body and not usually ideal
Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?
The dried red dates is one of them! Check it out in my video to learn more!
I know that it is good to drink red date tea during confinement but is it safe to drink it during pregnancy as well?
Dear Donna, red dates is OK to drink during pregnancy as well as it’s a pretty neutral (if not slightly warming) ingredient. To be fair, the most critical time is the first 3 months, for which you should avoid “cooling” foods. After that, most anything is game. Hope this helps! Lisa
Your soup recipes look very interesting. I am a nurse and think soup is very healing
Can dried red dates keep for 4-6 months in a sealed jar outside of the fridge?
Dear Dora, yes they can be, so as long as it’s kept relatively dry. Not sure HK qualifies as a dry place, but in Canada (east coast) is usually OK. Lisa
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