The why and how of using date paste as a binding agent base

The why and how of using date paste as a binding agent base

This article discusses the application of date paste as a binding agent in food products. It competes with other binder for this role. Date paste has a sticky texture, sweet taste and a load of fiber. It stabilizes the food texture  by holding the ingredients together. It can also help maintain the moisture in foods it is used. It substitutes sugar in confectioneries and bakeries while at the same time acting as a bulking agent.

What is a food binding agent?

 The why and how of using date paste as a binding agent base | Date paste as a binding agent


As the name suggests, they are ingredients added to foods to bind the other ingredients together. They are sometimes called food binders. Food-binding agents are added to foods to form materials into a whole so that components do not separate or fall apart. Some food binders create a medium in which mixed ingredients react with one another.

What are some of the common binding agents in food products?

Date paste as a food binder competes with other binders which are so many. There is almost a binder from every type of food category including dairy products and fruits and vegetables. Some of them may not even be used in foods. The ones that are common in the food industry and daily home cooking include eggs, honey, dates, psyllium husk, wheat flour, xanthan gum and chia seeds. 

Few people may view dates and honey as food biners, but they are. For example, honey is used to keep ingredients in granola bars in place. And date paste is an efficient binder in protein bars.

Can binding agents affect the texture or taste of food products?

Yes. Binding agents’ primary function is to keep the ingredients together. But they also help improve texture by thickening the food or affecting how mixed ingredients react. They absorb water which helps maintain your food moist such as keeping dough moist or thickening sauces or soups. Using binders becomes essential when you make Gluten-Free dough. Your dough feels dry and falls apart. Thanks to food binders, your dough looks, feels, and tastes like it’s NOT Gluten-Free!

Food binders also enhance the flavor and nutritional value of meals. For example, date paste as a binding agent creates a soft texture to bars and balls while creating a pleasant smell and replacing sugar. But date paste has other benefits, too. 

Some binding agents can be used interchangeably. So, for example, if you’re sensitive to gluten or eggs, you can use other options such as date paste, xanthan gum, psyllium husk powder, and guar gum.

Are binding agents safe to consume?

Most food binders are by-products of common fruits, vegetables, and sugar. For example, guar gum is made from legumes, and xanthan gum is a white powder produced from fermented sugar. They are both recognized as “safe and suitable” food binders by the FDA to be used in various products. However, they are heavily processed during production, which makes them less appealing as an ingredient to many consumers.

Psyllium is available in a powder or supplement form. It is made from the husks of a plant. Psyllium is rich in fiber and is a great binding agent as it may help lower cholesterol levels. However, it may affect nutrient absorption in large amounts. 

So far, sugar has been the most common food binder employed by manufacturers. Sugar is used in the form of syrups in the baking industry to bind together dry ingredients. However, concerns regarding its influence on blood sugar levels have lowered its favorability. Honey is used in granola bars but it may cause allergic reactions in some people.

Date paste is made by grinding dates into a mush or soft puree. It is a more natural and less processed food binding agent than other options. Consumed in moderation, it is a guilt-free ingredient with health improving features.

What can I use date paste as a binding agent for?

Date fruit attributes suitable for binding include natural sweeteners, strong smell, chewiness, and stickiness of the texture. As mentioned earlier, it absorbs water, so it helps maintain your food moist and soft. 

 The why and how of using date paste as a binding agent base | Date paste as a binding agent

The properties of date paste make it a suitable binding agent for confectionery and baked items. When date paste is used as the binder in these products, it holds other ingredients together to form a cohesive whole. Date paste is an excellent ingredient for bakery sweeteners and fillings. It can also even be used in drinks and ice cream. Date paste is also popular in cakes and desserts. So many date paste recipes are around that some have created a “best list.”   

Traditionally eggs, flour, and sugar played this role. However, consumers increasingly avoid these because of allergies, intolerances, or personal choices. Another reason for the decline in their popularity among consumers is the rise of gluten-free or vegan diets. 

Date paste is a 100% natural, vegan-friendly, and gluten-free product. It’s great for date-based protein bars, balls, and pucks. The range of bars includes energy, protein, snack, meal replacement, and flapjacks. They are so great that the market for date-infused protein bars is growing.

How much date paste should I apply?

The most common question regarding using date paste as a binding agent is “how to apply it to foods.” For dishes and desserts, it depends on how sweet you want them. So, it is a matter of preference and the recipe. 

The percentage of date paste in date bars depends on the type of bar you make. Generally, it ranges from 25% and 70%. This means we can use a minimum of 250 kg and a maximum of 700 kilograms of date paste for 1 MT of date bar. 

The formulations containing 50% date paste usually have the highest overall acceptability. They also have the best sensory characteristics.

Depending on the producers’ preferences, other ingredients in date bars may include milk protein, milk chocolate, sweeteners (sucralose, acesulfame K, maltitol, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass), emulsifiers (soy lecithin), glycerin, etc.

Watch “Nigella Lawson” in this video as she beautifully illustrates how dates can act like a binding agent to glue the ingredients together in sugar-free breakfast bars.

 The why and how of using date paste as a binding agent base | Date paste as a binding agent


We introduced date paste as a binding agent along with other potential binders. Date paste has several characteristics that makes it a reliable bulking agent in confectionery and baked goods as well as meals. It plays other roles other than keeping the ingredients together, such as maintaining a soft structure. It increases sweetness, chewability and customer acceptance.  

Tune into our blog for other articles about related issues.



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