Dates – Interesting Facts

There are approximately 400 varieties of the sweet fruit. It grows on a date palm tree of at least 30 years of age. Dried dates are available year-round, the fresh fruit is only available in autumn and winter. Medjool dates are a popular variety that are actually sweeter and softer than other types of dates when dried. They have a creamy consistency and taste similar to caramel. In comparison to other fruit, dates are rich in calories, mostly thanks to their high sugar content. They also contain iron, magnesium and potassium.

Food Facts Food Facts

Dates

Class

date palm

Calories

305 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

69g carbohydrate, 7.1g fibre, 0.5g fat, 2.5g protein per 100g

Season

fresh from September to January, dried year-round

Storage

store fresh dates in the refrigerator and dried dates at room temperature

Shelf life

fresh dates keep for 7 days, dried dates, when stored correctly in a dry and dark place can keep up to one year

Dates - Origin and Preparation

Dates, which are botanically part of the berry family, grow on date palms and originally come from the area surrounding the Persian Gulf. Today, the plants are mostly cultivated in North Africa and enjoy a hot environment with lots of water. The dates can grow up to 7cm long and will ripen within five or six months. A single date palm can produce up to 100kg of dates per year but bears fruit only once every two years.

When buying fresh dates, it’s important to make sure that they have a plump and matte skin. Dried dates, on the other hand, have a rich reddish brown colour. In both cases, the fruit must be pitted; cut the fruit lengthways in two and the pit should fall out easily.

The high calorie content of dates makes them quite a satiating food, despite their size, and therefore a good snack. Dates are popular additions to many cold and warm dishes. Whether filled with cream cheese or wrapped in bacon, they are a good addition to any buffet. Dates are a staple feature of the Middle Eastern cuisine, where they are often used to refine dishes. They go well in aubergine ragout, with chickpeas and lamb meat, or in a salad with bulgur or couscous.

Dates are also a popular ingredient in smoothies. Dried dates are easier to blend if they’re soaked overnight. Medjool dates are particularly good for making small balls of energy; simply combine an equal part of crushed nuts and crushed dates and mould them into a ball, finally rolling them in either coconut flakes or sesame seeds. In a refrigerator they keep for up to a week.

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