Australian jujubes are the healthiest fruit you've never heard of, grown on the banks of the Murray River at Mildura.

If you’ve never heard of jujubes, you are forgiven. They’re small red fruits about the size of a small plum, with a sweet taste and a crunchy texture, and they almost never make it to the supermarket, most being sold in Asian and Middle Eastern stores. 

The jujube is a member of the buckthorn family and grows on trees that can reach 10 metres in height, but they are generally pruned to around two metres for ease of harvest. The flowers erupt in early spring, and the fruit ripens in early to mid-autumn. 

Originally from China, the trees have found their way around most of the world and have become popular in Australia only in recent decades. The Jujube Australia orchard can be found by the banks of the Murray River at Nichols Point on the outskirts of Mildura, 550 kilometres northwest of Melbourne. 

It was first planted just over 30 years ago with 150 saplings that were given to orchardist Bernard McCarthy. Three decades on, the orchard has expanded, and McCarthy harvests over 100 tonnes of fruit each autumn. Some is exported to the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam, but most is sent to the wholesale markets in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. 

“We dehydrate some each season to make what we call red dates,” says McCarthy. These are available for sale online from May each year. 

While both the fresh fruit and the red date are delicious, they are also incredibly healthy. A single jujube contains more than half of an adult’s recommended daily intake of Vitamin C and is packed with phosphorus and potassium.

Product: Jujubes and red dates