Dates are a sweet fruit that comes from the date palm tree. They’re often used as a dessert item or to sweeten foods, sometimes replacing sugar.
They grow in clusters, and they range in size, colour, and shape.
You can use dates to make desserts like cookies or cakes.
Where Do Dates Come From?
Dates are native to Northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. They are thought to be one of the oldest cultivated fruits.
How Are Dates Harvested?
Typically, people pick the dates by hand. Date palm trees can grow very tall, so it’s sometimes easiest to get the dates from the ground.
Where this isn’t possible, pickers have to climb up using ladders, or sometimes a forklift truck is used.
It can be challenging to harvest them because they are fragile and can break easily, which is why it’s better to pick them by hand.
What To Look For When Buying Dates
If you are buying fresh dates, look for ones that are plump and moist. They should be soft to the touch but not mushy or overly wet.
Dates can also come in dried form, and they may be sold as whole pitted fruit, pieces, powder, syrup or paste.
What Do Dates Taste Like?
They taste sweet, similar to figs or raisins. The inside has a rich and caramel-like taste, which is why they are the main ingredient in sticky toffee pudding.
When Are Dates Available?
Fresh dates are available in the UK from November until January, but dried dates are available all year round.
How To Prepare Dates
You can chop them and add them to cakes, pies, and other desserts. You can also eat them as they are or use them in savoury dishes such as tagines.
It’s a good idea to soak dried dates before using them in a baking recipe to help soften them up. Don’t forget to remove the seeds if the dates haven’t been pitted.
What Do Dates Go With?
Dates go well with savoury dishes, and they can be used to replace sugar in many recipes.
If you’re using fresh dates, pair them with chocolate and nuts. When making a date puree, try adding rose water or orange blossom water.
You could also use the syrup from soaked dried dates as a glaze.
How To Store Dates
Fresh dates should be stored in the fridge, and they can last for up to three weeks if they are unopened.
Dried dates can be stored out of direct sunlight, and they will last for up to six months.
- Beetroot Brownies
- Sticky Toffee Pudding
- Date and Walnut Cake