All About Dates

Having a wide range of nutritional benefits, dates are an excellent addition to various types of diet. Learn more from our Dates in Diet series and explore how this fruit might be the next superfood.

Dates and The Mediterranean Diet

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Dates and Low Fat Diet

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Dates and Vegetarian Diets

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Is Water Considered a Nutrient?

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What Does Calcium Do to Your Body?

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Is Water Considered a Nutrient?

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Dates and Diabetes: What You Need to Know

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Dates Strengthen The Nervous System

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Dates and Other Foods That Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

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All About Dates:
A Complete Guide on Date Fruits

Dates are one of the most popular fruits in the world. They have a history that spans back to ancient times, and they come from Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt. Dates are very nutrient-dense fruit and can provide your body with many vitamins, including potassium, copper, iron, and calcium. Nowadays, dates are eaten worldwide as snacks or desserts, but they also have significant uses in traditional dishes like stews or kebabs. After reading this article, we hope you will understand more about dates and enjoy eating some too!

What are Dates?

All About Dates

Dates are a type of fleshy fruit popular in the Middle East. Dates grow on date palms in large clusters, kind of like bunches of grapes. These bunch of dates will hang high off the ground and be more than 50 feet tall.

The taste of dates depends on its variety, where it was grown, and what type of soil it was planted in. However, in general, dates have sweet and savory flavors, including caramel, nutty, brown sugar, buttery, honeyed, or even fruity like grapefruit.

There are many ways to enjoy this fruit. You can eat dates dried, toasted, or raw. It all depends on your preferences. If you prefer dried dates, they should be eaten without any water, as the natural sugars will make it taste sweeter than if you soaked it in water. You can also toast them for a few minutes before eating them or just consume them raw.

Is date a nut?

No. A date is classified as a stone fruit under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. It is similar to mangoes and peaches, meaning it has a single seed surrounded by an outer flesh.

Where did dates originate from?

The date palm is one of the most versatile and ancient plants on Earth. The exact origin of this plant can be difficult to pinpoint due to its long history with humans. However, we know that date palms were already being cultivated as early as 4000 BC because Mesopotamians used them to construct temples in Ur, Iraq.

We can find more proof that dates are an ancient crop in Egyptian hieroglyphics, where ancient Egyptians used them to represent years. The Egyptians also used their fronds as symbols for months. However, dates did not have cultural significance to Egyptians until 3000 – 2000 B.C, when they grew their interest in farming. There was also enough evidence showing that ancient people used trunks of date palms as roofs for their houses. 

Eventually, traders introduced dates to other parts of the world, including  South West Asia, Northern Africa, and some portions of Europe. Dates were also brought into Mexico and California by the Spaniards in 1765. 

Read More: Complete Origin and History of Date Fruits

Dates in Culture

All About Dates

Ramadan is a month of fasting and prayer for Muslims. Fasting is intended to teach patience, self-control, and generosity during the day. It also teaches us how to be more compassionate toward hungry people worldwide.

During Ramadan, people avoid eating or drinking from sunrise until sunset. They also try to do good deeds such as giving food or money to those in need (Zakat). Many Muslims break their fast with date fruit after they finish praying each night at sundown (known as iftar), often followed by an evening meal called suhoor before dawn begins the following day again.

Dates in Different Countries

Egypt

Egypt is the world’s top producer of dates, making the date fruit an essential crop in the modern Egyptian economy. Dates are grown all over Egypt and are a significant export, with substantial economic importance to both small-scale farmers and multinational corporations. This blog post will explore some of the ways that dates have been used throughout history and how they are currently being utilized by Egyptians today.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a country with a very diverse and exciting culture. One of the oldest fruits that they grow is date fruit. Some people in Saudi Arabia have been growing date trees for many generations, making it their family business for centuries. Dates are an essential part of life in Saudi Arabia because they provide them with many nutrients, from natural sugars to dietary fiber, which is good for their health. They use dates as desserts, sweet snacks, and ingredients in food dishes like rice or bread like manaqeesh khameer, all without adding any sugar or artificial ingredients.

Iran

Iran is a country with a rich history and an ancient culture. One of the many things that set it apart from other countries is its customs, traditions, and cuisine. Like most countries in the Middle East, Iran has grown to have some very distinctive tastes when it comes to food. Date fruit in Iran is one example of this- they are often eaten as snacks or desserts after meals. Unlike what you may think that date fruits in Iran are all dried up, fresh ones can be found on trees everywhere throughout Iran.

Algeria

The date fruit is a staple in the Algerian diet. The fruit has been eaten for centuries, as it was one of the first foods to be domesticated by humans. Dates have always played an integral part in this country’s culture and history.  The date palm tree is native to Africa and thrives in hot climates with little rainfall where other crops cannot grow well. Algeria’s weather is perfect for growing dates which are abundant here year-round because they can be grown indoors during the winter months when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

UAE

Dates in UAE are typical breakfast food eaten with bread and labneh. Dates have been grown in the Middle East for centuries, and they can be found at markets all over the region, as well as online if you want to buy them. They come in many varieties and flavors depending on where they are grown, including red dates, which have a sweeter taste than other types of fruit because of their high sugar content.

All About Dates

Dates in Religion

Dates and Islam

The date palm tree is an important symbol for Islam. It has been said that the first person to talk with Muhammad was a date seller, and he preached to him from the top of his date tree. Date palms are often planted around mosques because they produce shade and provide sustenance during drought times. Furthermore, dates are eaten as part of Iftar (the evening meal) after fasts during Ramadan.

Dates and Jewish

Jews have been eating date fruit for centuries. They are mentioned in the bible more than any other type of food. This alone makes it essential to many Jewish people who want to follow their religious guidelines as closely as possible. Jews also believe that eating this type of fruit will bring them joy during their time off from work for the holidays. In addition, they think that if they eat date fruit while celebrating Sukkot, then God will reward them for being faithful to him throughout the year and provide protection for their loved ones. Dates are also a symbol of love for Jews because they were given by Adam to Eve in the Garden of Eden after God had banished them from paradise.

Dates and Christians

Date fruit is known as the bible date among Christians. The Bible mentions the role of dates in several passages, including Genesis 37:25-27, where Joseph interprets his brothers’ dreams of sheaves of grain bowing down before him as their older brother’s dream that he would bow down to him.  Dates are also mentioned in Numbers 11:5 when God sends manna from heaven so that they could eat it instead of having to gather it from fig trees.

Types of Dates

Khodry

Khodry is a type of date that is dark brown and has a strong taste. They are often used as a natural sweetener in cakes and cookies because they have an intense caramel flavor that pairs well with chocolate or nuts.

Sukkari

Sukkari Dates have a sweet taste with hints of caramel, honey, and apricot jam flavors. The texture is soft but chewy, with a touch of crunchiness from the outside layer where it has been dried out in the sun. These are often considered one of the best varieties of dates because they maintain their flavor even after being soaked in water. Sukkari dates are used to make the classic Middle Eastern dessert called Halwa. They can be found all over North Africa and Saudi Arabia during Ramadan as they are traditionally served at Iftar dinner during this month.

Ajwa

The Ajwa is one of the most popular varieties and has a distinctive taste, texture, and color.  The Ajwa variety is distinguished by its sweetness with notes of caramel accompanied by delicate flavors of vanilla and almonds. This type of date originates from Saudi Arabia, which was first cultivated over 1,000 years ago. Moreover, the Ajwa date has been revered for centuries as an aphrodisiac and fertility booster. It is also believed to help with depression and anxiety, so it is good to include this sweet fruit in your diet when you need some love or feel down.

Khesab

Khesab dates come from Iran and are known for being rich, sweet, and soft. The taste is often described as “buttery.”  They have a creamy texture with nutty flavors that can vary depending on how ripe they are.  These dates might not be as popular in the United States, but they’re worth trying if you get a chance.

Hulwa

Hulwa used to be a mystery fruit until it was recently discovered in the arid and mountainous regions of Saudi Arabia. This type of date is not widely available yet, but it’s gaining popularity as more people learn about its health benefits. Hulwa dates are very sweet and juicy with an almost caramel-like flavor. Perhaps this explains why they have become so popular among those who do not care for the traditional dry dates associated with Ramadan celebrations.

Beid

The Beid date variety is a type of date which is grown in the city of Beid, Iraq. This particular variety has been cultivated for centuries, and it has a rich history. The fruit can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a traditional dish called “tamale.” 

Barni Al Madina

Barni Al Madina is a popular date variety with the perfect balance of sweetness and crunch. It has an elongated shape and thick skin, making it ideal for eating with your hands. Barni Al Madina originates from Oman, but you can find it worldwide in countries like Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, and Australia.  Barni Al Madina is best to eat when they are fresh off the tree because their flavor will change as they age.

Ruzeiz

Barhi dates are a type of date that is typically used for cooking due to their high sugar content. These tasty dates are harvested in the early fall and can be found at most grocery stores, though they may not always be on display. Ruzeiz has been considered a staple food in many cultures for centuries because of its versatility in recipes.

Rabeaa

The Rabeaa date is a type of date that is small, sweet, and seedless. These dates are grown in the United Arab Emirates. The Rabeaa date has been around for about 25 years, but it only became popular after 2010 when an advertisement campaign took off to promote this delicious Middle Eastern fruit.  You can find the Rabeaa date in many food cultures, including Arabic, Iranian and Turkish culture, and Persian cuisine, including traditional dishes such as baklava (a layered dessert made with filo dough) filled with these tasty dishes gems.

Thawee

Thawee is the most famous date variety of all, and for a good reason. It’s not only sweet, but it also contains a range of other nutrients like iron and zinc. With so many health benefits due to the vitamin content of dates, you should consider adding this healthy fruit to your diet.

Deglet Noor

Deglet Noor dates are a type of date harvested from the Deglet Nour palm tree. These dates are considered the most nutritious and healthy because they contain a high vitamin, minerals, fiber, and protein level.  Dried Deglet Noor date pieces can be eaten as snacks or in salads. They can also be ground up into flour for baking purposes, such as cookies or bread.

Kheinazy

Khenaizy is a date variety grown in the Middle East and North Africa. It was originally cultivated by locals of the Meknes region as early as 1876. The word “Khenaizy” comes from the Arabic word for “to be good,” which may have been chosen to give this date a positive association during colonization times. Khenaizy dates are known for their distinctive flavor with hints of nuts and cream, making them perfect for baking or cooking with other spices.

Khalas

If you are looking for a date that is sweet, healthy, and wholesome, then Khalas dates from the Middle East might be what you need. These dates are known for their high amounts of fiber and potassium and contain essential minerals like magnesium and iron. In addition to being healthy, they also taste delicious.

Sullaj

Sullaj dates are a type of delicious date that is grown in Iraq. Sullaj dates are known for their quality and flavor. They have a unique taste compared to other kinds of dates. They can be eaten as-is or used in cooking to add sweetness and texture to dishes. Sullaj Dates also have many health benefits, including being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and helping with digestion when consumed regularly. These reasons make Sullaj Dates a must-try.

Why You Should Eat Date Fruits

All About Dates

Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Dates

Dates are sweet, soft fruits with many health benefits. For centuries, they have been used as food and medicine in the Middle East and North Africa. Dates provide an excellent source of nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, calcium, carbohydrates, and fiber. The fiber in dates can help maintain normal blood sugar levels. 

Dates are rich in essential vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, and Zinc. They are also rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants in dates help protect against illness-causing free radicals that attack cells in the body like cancer cells.  Thus, consuming dates may contribute to better health rather than worsened health over time by providing us with essential vitamins and minerals.

The sugar content in dates is relatively high, but it is a natural sugar that makes them less harmful than processed sugars found in other foods. On the other hand, the calories in dates are similar to other dried fruits, such as raisins and prunes. 100 grams of dates have approximately 342 calories, making them a brilliant addition to any diet plan. However, dried date fruits may have higher calorie content than fresh fruit. 

For a more in-depth discussion, read our articles on Nutritional Value of Dates and Health Benefits of Dates.

How are dates prepared?

Dates are available in many forms, such as whole dates, chopped or pitted dates, and date syrup. The most common use for whole dates is to eat them whole either alone or with other foods such as cheese. Pitted dates are often used in baking because they have a sweet flavor and do not need any preparation before using, unlike chopped or sliced dates which must be soaked for an hour before being added to baked goods like muffins or bread. You can also turn dates into syrup by boiling them down until they form a thick paste-like consistency which you can then use on ice cream sundaes, pancakes, waffles, and even toasts.

Got more questions? Check our Ask and Answer Section.

Best Date Recipes

Pumpkin Oat Muffin With Dates

All About Dates

In the fall, pumpkin spice lattes are a must-have. However, you can get your pumpkin fix without a coffee shop stop with this pumpkin oat muffin recipe! The addition of dates makes these muffins extra tasty and moist. You’ll want to make a double batch because they go fast!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dates
  • 1 cup rolled oats

Streusel Toppings

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon rolled oats

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease 10-12 muffin cups. 
  2. Add the all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ground ginger, nutmeg, and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix everything up nicely 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, pumpkin oil, vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla extract. 
  4. Add the pumpkin mixture into the large bowl that contains the dry ingredients. 
  5. Add the dates and the rolled oats. 
  6. Fill each muffin cup with about a third to a quarter of the batter.
  7. In a separate mixing bowl, prepare the streusel toppings by mixing the butter, ground cinnamon, sugar, all-purpose flour, and rolled oats. 
  8. Sprinkle the topping liberally over each muffin to create a cinnamon and sugar crust.
  9. Place the muffin in a 17×12-inch pan and put it on an upper rack of the oven for 20 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  10. Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack when cooling off to speed up drying time.
  11. Serve these muffins warm or cold with your favorite spread.
  12. Enjoy!

Green Apple and Dates Smoothies

All About Dates

Green apple and dates smoothies are a great way to start the day. They’re full of antioxidants, potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin C! Get your morning off to the right start with this delicious drink.

Ingredients

  • 1 green apple (sliced)
  • 1 banana (sliced)
  • 8 fresh dates (pitted)
  • 2 cups milk
  • white sugar (optional)

Directions

Blend the sliced green apple, banana, and dates with milk in a blender until smooth.

Adjust the sweetness by adding sugar depending on your preference.

Serve and enjoy!

Chinese Chicken with Dates and Mushroom

All About Dates

Chinese chicken with dates and mushrooms is a perfect dish for those looking to change their weeknight routine. It’s an easy recipe that can be made in under 30 minutes, making it quick and convenient when you’re feeling stressed or don’t want to spend too much time cooking after work. The dish is rich in flavor and low-calorie, so you won’t feel guilty about indulging

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 1 cup dried Chinese mushrooms
  • ½ cup dates
  • 2 tablespoons goji berries
  • ginger
  • 2 cups Chinese rice wine
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ¼ tablespoon pepper

Directions

  1. Boil the water and add the dried Chinese mushrooms, dates, goji berries, ginger, and chicken thigh—cook for 30 minutes. 
  2. Pour the rice wine and the salt and pepper. Cook for another 15 minutes. 
  3. Serve hot and enjoy!

We hope that this guide has been a helpful way to introduce you to the world of date fruits. If you want to try something new and enjoy the taste of fresh dates, check out your local grocery store for these delicious fruits today!

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