What are dates and what do they taste like?
Dates, Khurma, Dátil, Tamar… This tasty fruit has a lot of names in different countries and comes from one of the most vicious plants in nature. It’s a vital food source for people living across the Middle East and North Africa. And the trees bearing it have been growing alongside some of the world’s most ancient rivers for thousands of years. Although the date palm, with its lush, sweet fruit, is even more than that.
In this article, I am going to share some information about dates with you. So, if you are wondering about dates, what they are, their taste, health benefits and uses, just keep reading to find out!
You can find out more about dates and their history on our other blog posts on Everything about Dates: What are Dates and what do they taste like?, History of Dates, Health Benefits of Dates, Fresh Dates vs. Dried Dates, Different Types of Dates.
What are Dates?
So, what are dates anyway? A date is somehow one of the stone fruits, meaning it has an individual seed surrounded by an external fleshy fruit (like mangoes, peaches, and olives). They’re developed on date palm trees, so where you would typically see coconuts, picture big bunches of dates!
Dates are the tropical stone-fruits grown on the date palm (phoenix datylifera) with origins going back more than 5,000 years ago to the Persian Gulf area of the Middle East. The fruits ripen in large clusters, morphing in color, texture, and flavor while on the tree, from light green, crunchy, and astringent to soft, chewy, and delicious, in varying tones of brown. Some types are usually drier or smaller; others darken nearly to black.
You can say that ripening happens in 4 stages: unripe, crunchy, semi-dry or soft, and sun-dried. They usually keep hanging on the tree until they fully ripen, but they are usually harvested earlier for a more controlled drying process. Although date fruits are dried, they are not fully dehydrated like dried apricots or cranberries you see in the store. They still contain some moisture, which is why you need to keep them in cool places.
There are a lot of date varieties grown around the world. The most popular ones are Sayer, Mazafati, Rabbi, Piarom, Dayri, Deglet Noor, Halawy, Khadrawy, Medjool, Thoory, Zahidi, Ajwa, Sukkary.
What do Dates Taste Like?
Dried dates are wrinkled outside, but sweet, delicious and sticky inside. They have a rich intensive caramel taste, so much that you can’t believe you are eating a fruit. Much more like a chocolate, with notes of. Cinnamon, butterscotch and toffee.
Some describe the taste and texture of a date as a chewier, more caramelly raisin. Others might say they taste like a cross between a prune and a fig with traits of chocolate and cinnamon.
Dates are very high in fruit sugar (fructose), and as they dry, their sugar content becomes more concentrated. That’s why they don’t need any more sugar added. Some might say they taste like a cross between a prune and a fig with traits of chocolate and cinnamon .
The Health Benefits of Dates
If you look into the nutrition facts of an ordinary package of dates, they seem more like a sugar bomb than a healthy snack. But are they really as nutritionally insipid as these labels make them look?
Of course not! When you look into them by the modern scientific lenses and ancient wisdom, they look like a holy super-food of huge value.
Excellent Source of Essential Nutrition
Dates have a great nutrition profile. The dried ones have more calories than its fresh fruit. Most of these calories come from carbs in dates. They contain many crucial vitamins and minerals in addition to high amount of fiber.
A 100-grams serving of dates provides these nutrients:
- Calories: 277
- Carbs: 75 grams
- Fiber: 7 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Manganese: 15% of the RDI
- Potassium: 20% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 14% of the RDI
- Iron: 5% of the RDI
- Copper: 18% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 12% of the RDI
Rich in Fiber
Consuming enough Fiber is essential to your overall health and Dates are a great way to increase your fiber intake. Fiber can improve your digestive health by reducing constipation.
The fiber in dates is also beneficial for controlling blood sugar. It slows digestion and can help prevent the high spike of blood sugar levels after eating.
An Excellent Source of Antioxidants
Dates provide several types of antioxidants that can help you reduce the risk of diseases. Antioxidants such as:
- Flavonoids: flavonoids are the great antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer .
- Phenolic Acid: they are known for their anti-inflammatory features and can help lower the risk of heart diseases and cancer .
- Carotenoids: they are proven to improve heart health and may reduce the risk of eyes diseases .
Dates are a great source of fructose, the natural sugar found in fruits and veggies.
This is why they are so sweet and have some sweet caramel flavor.
You can use them as a wonderful substitute for white sugar, to feed your sweet tooth with healthy mother earth candies.
The best way to use dates as an alternative sugar is to turn them into pastes. But remember, although they are high in healthy nutrients, they are still high in calories and carbs.
May Promote Natural Labor
Dates have been studied for their potential to ease and promote late-term labor in pregnant women. Their role in pregnancy is likely due to compounds that connect to oxytocin receptors and seem to simulate the effects of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is a hormone that induces labor contractions during childbirth.
Help Relieve Constipation
Dates are used traditionally in many countries as a natural laxative to relieve constipation.  They can be consumed as is, but it is better to soak them overnight to reduce its consistency to get better benefits from its sticky syrup. (although this is yet to be proven.)
Provide a Perfect Energy Source
These delicious treats are comprised of a large portion of simple sugars, being mainly in the form of fructose and glucose, which are used mainly for energy by the body. Eating a few dates before gym can give the enough energy to your brain and muscles to perform at a high intensity.
How to Use Dates?
Because dates are naturally sweet, they are an obvious choice for a lot of sweet recipes, they are wonderful in cakes, cookies, coffees and quick breads. You can also add them as a natural sweetener to your oatmeal.
They are also a great ingredient for savory preparations like braises, curries, pilafs and salads.
Dates have a sweet caramelly flavor that goes well with almost everything, but if you need some starter inspiration, here are some serving tips:
- You can eat the dry and soft dates out of hand without any add-ons.
- You can stuff the pitted dates with fillings such as Cheese, Nuts, chia seed, chocolate, diced fruits, parmesan and fresh basil. Yum!
- You can also chop and add them to your desserts and salads (like fruit salad) to create a range of sweet and savory flavors.
- Add them to your bakery and cookies as a sugar alternative.
- Blend them in your smoothies before the gym to hit the scale.
- Make a syrup from them and use as a food dressing and beverage sweetener.
Also, if you need some help on how to choose the best date you can find it in our articles.
How to Store Dates?
Like we mentioned before, dates are sweet fruits, and they’re technically already dried – so you don’t need to worry about them going bad.
However, it is recommended that you store them in an airtight container either in the fridge for more than a year, or at room temperature for a few months.
They have the lowest moisture content of any whole fruit, only 27% to 16%, varied by the type, meaning they’re naturally dehydrated! As they age, the tasty sugars in the date will slowly move to the surface, producing little sugar white spots. Don’t worry, these are not molded.
When you need to use dates out of their package, take a few out the day before. Freezing them will not damage the flavor or texture, and this is one frozen item that fuses rather nicely.
Our Date Products
Take a quick look at our high-quality products made with 100% natural Dates with no added sugar, gluten-free and healthy to use this delicious heaven fruit in your daily diet: