Dates are the fruit of the date palm and are grown in many tropical regions worldwide. Dates have grown in popularity over recent years largely due to their high concentration of nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, and iron, as well as their anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Dates are one of the world’s most nutritious sweet snacks, but choosing a variety of dates to purchase can feel overwhelming.
What are the top date varieties in the US?
Dates are typically sold dried to preserve the nutrients while lengthening the shelf life. Depending on the type of date, they range in color from bright red to dark purple or even yellow. The size can also vary from small to large, and some varieties have a much softer texture than others. Here are the most popular date varieties in America:
If you’ve ever had a dessert that included dates, you were probably eating Medjool dates. Medjool dates are the most commonly grown date and most widely available. This type of date is large and squishy and has an amber to reddish-brown color. This variety of dates has a strong sweet flavor and can sometimes be described as tasting syrupy.
Deglet Noor Dates
Next in popularity comes Deglet Noor dates. These dates are also popular among US buyers and are commonly found in grocery stores and food markets. These dates are smaller and dryer than Medjool dates but still very sweet. They are sometimes described as having a slightly nutty flavor and are the common choice for cooking savory dishes.
Barhi dates are slightly less popular than Medjool or Deglet Noor but just as delicious. This type of date is the sweetest and creamiest, and many people compare it to tasting like candy. This type of date is more fragile than other dates, so it does not ship easily, making it distributed less widely than other varieties. It is popular in California and often sold in local farmer’s markets.
Halawi (Halawy) Dates
Halawi dates are also frequently compared to candy and have been compared to having a caramel flavor. This type of date is often made into dessert sauces and flavors because of the melt-in-your-mouth texture. The size of this date ranges from small to medium.
This type of date is dryer than other varieties and has a sweet, nutty flavor. This date bakes better than other dates, so it is often referred to as a “bread date.” You can recognize this date by its golden-brown flesh and large size.
Where to buy dates?
Dates can be found in most grocery stores in the dried fruits and nuts aisle. Depending on your region, Medjool dates and Deglet Noor dates are the most widely available varieties. However, local health food stores and Arabic markets may carry other varieties. If you are in an area where dates are grown locally, you will likely be able to find them at your local farmer’s market.
To find out which varieties of dates are near you, call your local store and ask about their selection. If you are after a specific variety, some brands ship nationwide online. A quick Google search can help you find the right store or shipping method for you!
Which Date Variety is Right for You?
To find out which date variety is right for you, consider which dates are available near you. To do this, check your local grocery and health stores inventory to see what is available each season. Second, consider your hopes for the flavor profile. Are you hoping for something with an intense or subtle sweet flavor? Creamy or dry? Nutty or candy-like?
Following this, thinking about the recipe your dates will be included in can help determine the right variety. Will they be cooked in a savory or sweet dish? Baked? Eaten raw? All of these factors can determine the best choice to buy for you.
Dates are an excellent addition to many recipes, along with being a great snack. They are widely available in the US in many varieties, each with different strengths. When choosing a variety of dates, make sure to take into account desired flavor, texture, recipe type, and availability. By doing this, you’ll be able to make the best choice on what date variety is best for your needs, and you’ll be enjoying your favorite sweet snack in no time!
Medjool, Deglet Noor, Bahri, Halawi, and Thoory dates are all great options available in the US but better suited for different situations. For example, Bahri dates are great for snacking, but Thoory dates hold their shape much better when baked. By considering all the information, you can utilize the strengths of these sweet treats and ensure you are making educated decisions in the grocery store. Many date varieties are available in the US–and now you know how to choose the best ones for you!