Date

The date - nature's most perfect, healthy candy.  Sweet, rich, almost like caramel, they seem to melt in your mouth. Eating a handful of dates is a pure experience in decadence without any guilt attached.

Dates grow on the date palm, which thrive in extremely hot, arid subtropical climates.  They require at least 100 sunny days of at least 100 degrees in temperature in order to properly produce their fruit. 

The date palm never stops growing and can easily reach to heights of over 100 feet.  Eventually they become so tall they will just topple over.  The tip of the date palm is its single growth point.  If the tip is removed, the date will die.  The tip is harvested for the hearts of palm delicacy.

Dates are either round or oblong in shapes, have a thin, wrinkly, film-like skin and range from golden to dark brown in color.  All varieties are sweet, but the widely distributed Mejool tops most others in sweetness.

Common Varieties: 

There are many different date varieties, all of them are distinct and each have attributes that make them worth eating over and over.  Although the Mejool runs king in the US supermarkets, all deserve your exploration.  Here are some of the more common varieties:

  • Asharasi - rich, nutty falvor
  • Barhi - Rich, soft, syrupy.  The softest and most delicate.
  • Dayri - Soft, sweet
  • Deglet Noor - Delicate flavored, , mild, sweet
  • Fardh - Moderately sweet, somewhat bland
  • Halawy - Honey flavored, tender, sweet
  • Khadrawy - Less sweet, rich, soft
  • Khalas - Rich, caramel flavor
  • Khustawi - Rich, sweet
  • Khidri - Firm, chewy, medium sweetness
  • Medjool - Extra sweet, rich, soft, little fiber
  • Thoory - Sweet, nutty dry
  • Yatimeh - Soft, syrupy, tender
  • Zahidi - Sugary sweet, syrupy, semi-dry

If you are located in the United Sates, The Date People is a great source for bulk, mail order exotic dates.  They allow you to order wet packs, for a small extra fee.

Known Varieties: 

There are over 40 known commercial varieties available, but their diversity is much, much greater, over 350 varieties.

When in season: 
early-spring
spring
late-spring
early-winter
winter
late-winter
How to select: 

Select plump dates that are "wetter" than others.  Make sure that the dates are still moist and soft and chewy.  The drier dates indicate a lack of freshness which also will indicate less flavor and an overall less enjoyable experience.

If you live in an area where dates are locally grown, you may choose to try them before they have been given a chance to dry (they are typically sun-dried on the tree).   They are  less sweet this way and have a fresher, crunchier texture (called the "khalal" stage).

How to eat: 

Typically in the United States the date is sold already partially dried, although the "wetter" dates are usually more preferalble to the less fresh, drier dates.  Typically they are eaten like candy, simply popped into the mouth and eaten whole, minus the center pit.

Be sure not to purchase dates that have already been pitted.  These typically are drier, taste less fresh and have been heated to a high temperature during the processing.

Native to: 

The Persian Gulf region

History: 

Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits.  It is believed that the Babylonians grew them 8,000 years ago, and they have been continuously cultivated for over 5,000 years.

Serving Size: 
One Mejool Date
Caloric Ratio %
Carbs: 
97
Proteins: 
2
Fats: 
1