Jujube Date Jam is made with dried jujube dates, which have a rich, caramel like flavor. As a kid, I fondly remember knocking down the ripe, speckled dates off the jujube date tree my dad planted in our front yard. We had a really long stick reserved just for this purpose. Fresh jujube dates are crunchy and sweet, sort of like apples but with a finer texture. Dried, ripe jujube dates are dark red and called red dates in Chinese (hong zao). My dad used to sun dry all the jujube dates at the end of the season.
The last several years for Chinese New Year, I’ve been making a new sticky rice cake from my mom’s recipe collection and my Auntie Florence’s cookbooks. This year, I spotted a recipe for Jujube Date Sticky Rice Cake in Auntie Florence’s cookbook, which intrigued me. Her recipe for this traditional Chinese New Year calls for jujube date puree or jam. I’ve never heard of this ingredient and couldn’t find it on the internet anywhere for purchase. So, decided to try to make it myself.
Auntie Florence‘s recipes are very traditional and true to authentic Chinese cuisine, so I believe traditional Chinese New Year sticky rice cake used to be made with jujube dates. These days, however, most brown Chinese sticky rice cake you can buy, and most recipes I’ve seen use brown sugar. I’ve never seen sticky rice cake made with jujube dates. Dried jujube dates have caramel notes, and a roasted scent, similar to roasted chestnuts, providing a depth of flavor and fragrance that brown sugar cannot replace.
You can buy dried jujube dates at Chinese grocery stores, Korean grocery stores and on the internet. I soaked the jujube dates overnight.
Then, I cooked them with some sugar and water in an Instant Pot for 7 minutes. You could also cook the dates in a stove-top pressure cooker or a regular pot (it will require more water and time). The dates softened up and absorbed much of the water. Once the dates have cooled, remove the pits and place in a food processor to puree.
The puree needs to be strained to remove as much date skin as possible. My jujube date jam still had some bits of date skin, but it didn’t bother me. If you don’t want any skin at all in your end product, use a finer strainer.
The process of straining is a bit time consuming, but if you want to make authentic Jujube Date Sticky Rice Cake, then give this a try. I’ll be positing the recipe for Jujube Date Sticky Rice Cake soon so stay tuned!
Jujube Date Jam
- 6 ounces dried jujube dates
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
Cover jujube dates with water and soak overnight. Cover with wet cloth to keep dates submerged in the water.
Place rehydrated dates in Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Add sugar and 1 cup water. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes. Natural release 10 minutes then quick release pressure. Let dates cool.
Remove pits from dates. Place in a food processor with any remaining liquid. Process until smooth. Strain pulp. This should yield about 11 ounces of jujube date puree/jam.