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What is a Date Fruit?

Dried date fruit.
Dates growing on a date palm.
A bowl of medjool dates.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2014
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A date fruit is the product of a date palm, a tree native to Northern Africa and the Middle East, although it is also cultivated in other parts of the world. In addition to being eaten fresh, the date fruit is dried and eaten whole as a snack or included in an assortment of desserts. Many regional Middle Eastern cuisines incorporate dates, as do Mediterranean cuisines like those of Italy and Greece. Dried dates are usually readily available in most markets, and fresh dates can be found in specialty markets in season.

A full grown date palm, or Phoenix dactylifera can reach 82 feet (25 meters) in height, with a spreading crown of greenish leaves. The date fruit grows in heavy clusters suspended under the leaves, and they are yellow in the early ripening stage, or kimri, the Arabic word for unripe. Some consumers enjoy date fruit in the next stage, khalal, meaning full sized but crunchy, while others wait for dates to reach rutab, ripe and soft. When the date fruit is allowed to sun dry on the tree, it is considered to be in the final tamr stage of ripening.

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Numerous varietals of date fruit are grown including the coveted Black Sphinx date, along with more common noor and medjool dates. Depending on the variety, the date may be higher in natural sugars, or have an intense honey like flavor. As the date fruit dries, the sugars will concentrate in the dense, moist flesh, ultimately forming sugar crystals on the outside of the date. If a date has formed sugar crystals, it is usually less than ideal to eat, as the flesh will be dry and leathery.

The date fruit is one of the oldest cultivated tree crops, and has been grown for thousands of years. Dates pack well in bags, making them ideal for travelers, and the date palm grows in hostile environments to provide food, fuel, animal fodder, and shelter. Many people eat dates whole, or chop them up for dessert purposes. Often, dates are stuffed with either sweet or savory fillings and served as appetizers at Middle Eastern meals. Dates and mascarpone, along with dates and marzipan, are two popular stuffed date fruit desserts. In the Middle East, dates are frequently made into a paste which can be combined with other fruits and turned into candies or used to decorate food.

When selecting dates, look for plump, evenly colored specimens. All dates have a single long seed, but they can range in shape from oblong to round, depending on the cultivar. The date should not look dry or withered, and no crystals should appear on the exterior of the date. Fresh dates will last for up to two weeks under refrigeration, while preserved dates can last much longer, depending on how they are preserved.

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anon964836
Post 66

I have accidentally swallowed a black omani date seed (an oval shaped seed about 1.5 cm or 3/4th of an inch in length). Though I do not have any discomfort, I have read two disturbing pieces of news. The news dates back to 1860s, where in the first case, it was claimed that a young eighteen year old woman died of intestinal obstruction by accidental swallowing of dates. In another case, another child died because of date lodging in the appendix.

Does anybody have any personal experience of accidentally swallowing a date seed?

anon939527
Post 64

Original Deglet Nour, grown in Algeria are the best dates of all. Even better than Medjool. They taste like honey.

anon336842
Post 61

Where can I buy date fruit in the Philippines? Please let me know.

anon333332
Post 60

Damn, I just ate about 25 dried dates. I think I am addicted to them.

anon325075
Post 58

Dates with cream cheese -- sublime.

anon314350
Post 57

Nothing that grows on trees or grows in the ground is fattening. Good Lord. It's natural. Date fruit warms you up. Never eat in the summer or it will mess you u, and you'll have a nose bleed. It's a perfect winter snack.

anon280335
Post 55

Dates are available year round in just about every grocery store in Southern California since they are grown in the desert area of the Coachella Valley. They grow mostly Medjools and Deglet Noors. Medjools are much better.

A trip to Palm Springs is not complete unless you stop and have a date shake or date ice cream. Date shakes are the bomb! You can order some online from Hadley's or Shield's Date Gardens.

anon233491
Post 53

but is it better to eat dates or sharkfin soup?

anon212347
Post 52

I am from Pakistan where date grows naturally. Dates contain natural sugar and will boost the blood sugar level, so diabetics should consume cautiously. It contains a good amount of minerals. I am not sure if it helps in fertility, but people here refer to it as a boost to one's sexual drive (which for most part is just a joke).

You don't need to do much to preserve this fruit. You can dry it in the sun for about a week which reduces moisture but keeps all other nutrition preserved. This dried fruit is good for one year without any refrigeration (keep it dry though). In the sixth or seventh year of its life, small plants start to grow at the foot of tree which are called 'suckers'. These are dug and separated and then planted. They will carry all the properties of mother plant and bear more fruit and early. An expert should perform this process as the parent plant is killed if it is not done carefully. Little water is all that it needs and once through with its first year, it can bear extremely harsh environments. Very few diseases attack it.

It will bear fruit in about five years, but reach full potential in about 10 years. Each tree will give 60-300 Kg fruit each season and continue to give for next 70-80 years. Too much rain spoils the fruit. You will need a single male tree around for pollination of female trees which bear fruit only. No other tree comes even close when it comes to survivability.

anon170119
Post 49

I am trying for a baby myself and have been advised to eat figs and dates as they are meant to help both men and women when trying to conceive!

anon151691
Post 46

i am just learning what dates are.

anon150006
Post 45

Can dates be frozen and used later?

anon135022
Post 44

dates are good to stay hydrated too. the properties i.e. potassium etc., are great minerals for hydration. Don't eat too many a day because you will gain weight if you're not active.

anon123051
Post 43

To #42, short answer: Date fruit is not recommended for diabetic patients. Depending on various origins, 100g date fruits may contain 60~80g of sugar (monosaccharide). It is the major source of carbohydrate and potassium in middle east diet.

anon115228
Post 42

Please answer my question. Are dates good or bad for diabetic people and do people gain weight when consuming them daily?

anon109908
Post 41

To #23 - There is a middle eastern ethnic market in my town that carries dates. See if there's one around you. I've never seen them anywhere else.

anon108004
Post 40

The black powder could be Lactobacillus, Acetobacter or Aspergillus niger.

anon105073
Post 38

Can someone please answer 13-Is it bad if you take a bite of a date with black powder inside? Also freaking out.

amypollick
Post 37

Please allow me to reiterate something about dates and diabetics. Dates have quite a bit of natural sugar, and diabetics should consume them with caution, checking their blood glucose two hours after eating them, to make sure the dates do not spike their blood glucose levels. Everyone is different, so it is important for the diabetic to eat dates in moderation, and make sure it's not a food that spikes the blood glucose.

I don't know whether dates, or any food, can actually help prevent diabetes, but if you're not diabetic to start with, it may be worth a shot. Just remember: dates have a great deal of natural sugar, so take that into consideration if you're watching your waistline.

anon91845
Post 36

Dates are also beneficial for people suffering from other stomach problems. People suffering from the condition of colitis can opt to eat dates on daily basis. Dates are rich in sources of iron and can be taken on daily basis.

They're good for people suffering from the condition of anemia. They help to increase the hemoglobin level of the body.

Dates are also good for people suffering from heart problems. They can be included in their daily diet.

anon91844
Post 35

Dates are good if you feel overworked or fatigue or having weakness, they can instantly provide energy to your body. Dates are good for gastric problems in the body. Having dates on daily basis can help with problems of heartburn.

Having dates after lunch or dinner can also help to control your acidity problem. Dates are good for constipation problems, too. Having dates on a daily basis can also help to prevent diseases like cancer.

Even people suffering from diabetes can include dates in their daily diet plan. It's good to keep the blood sugar level of the body in control.

anon83855
Post 34

I'm eating a date and it is delicious, but I prefer watermelon.

Thanks, Eric G., Saint Louis, MO

anon73856
Post 32

do dates help for menopause?

anon70549
Post 30

how do they grow up -- by seeds or planting?

laluna
Post 29

Dates can be fattening, it depends on the amount consumed. One larger date has about 60 calories. If two or three dates a day are eaten, there should be no problem.

anon64391
Post 28

are dates fattening?

Cosmicbaboo
Post 27

Can any one advise whether dates are good or bad for a person who had a major heart attack? Thanks.

anon58917
Post 26

i'm studying dates and i can't write 2-3 pages about this crappy fruit. what do i do? Help!

anon55253
Post 25

How does one plant a date seed? Thought it would be fun to try to sprout one.

anon54305
Post 24

should i eat dates during my preganancy?

anon50602
Post 23

where we can buy date fruits?

anon49419
Post 22

hi, where in the philippines where can we buy dates? i heard that is so good for people who don't have a baby because they can increase the sperm. Is this true?

anon49085
Post 21

i really love dates. they are delisious and lovely in Ramadan!

amypollick
Post 19

Dates have a *lot* of sugar for their volume. While they are tasty, diabetics should be very careful about consuming them. One ounce of dates has 21 grams of carbohydrates, which equals about 5-6 dates, depending on their size. There are other fruits that offer a lot more for their carbohydrate count, such as apples or peaches, which also offer more fiber and fewer carbs per serving. An occasional snack with dates isn't harmful, but it always is best to check your blood glucose level about 2 hours after eating them, just to see how your body responds to them.

anon46334
Post 18

are dates good for diabetic people?

anon42683
Post 16

Is eating 5-6 dates daily good or bad for diabetic patients?

anon42247
Post 15

How do you preserve dates?

anon42244
Post 14

How do you dry the fresh dates to eat later?

anon40595
Post 13

What does it mean if a date has a black powdery substance inside? I know it was off but what was it. I had a bite and am freaking out.

anon39934
Post 12

does consuming of dates increase fat in the body?

anon37057
Post 11

my uric acid is 6.5. how many dates can I eat per day

anon36208
Post 9

can dates be frozen?

anon31141
Post 8

Are dates good for fertility?

ivankotika
Post 7

1.Eating dates daily 5-6 pieces good or bad for diabetes patients?

2.Eating dates daily 5-6 pieces good or bad for cholesterol patients?

jabuka
Post 6

Dates have a big advantage over other fruits and that is that dates can keep for a long time. They do need to be refrigerated or they can be frozen. Refrigerated they will keep for up to a year, and frozen up to five years. It is good to keep them in airtight containers to preserve the moisture.

Medjool varieties, the largest dates, have high sugar content and sometimes white powder will form on the outside of the date from sugar crystals below the skin. The sugar can be melted back into the date by covering dates with a wet towel and keeping them in warm oven for about fifteen minutes. Microwave can be used also, but only a few seconds will do the job.

Medjools are soft, creamy and so delicious. Medjools have their origin in Marocco.

Deglet Noor variety is originally from Algeria. This variety is the most common date in United States.

Dates are rich in minerals and relatively high in fiber.

jabuka
Post 5

Dates are so sweet. In United States they are usually available around Christmas time. They grow in clusters, and each cluster can contain up to 1700 dates.

anon10766
Post 3

Are dates advisable in the period of pregnancy trying?

Does it produce heat in the body?

mkgtitli
Post 2

1. Do dates have an adverse or helpful effect on cholesterol?

2. How much soluble fiber do dates contain? Compare it with Soya and Apple.

anon3642
Post 1

whether date fruit is good for diabetics

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