What is Date Sugar?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Date sugar is not sugar in quite the same way other types are, like those derived from cane or beets. It’s not processed to create sugar alcohol or a smooth melting effect, instead it’s merely made from very finely chopped dry dates. It is quite sweet, but it can clump, and doesn’t melt, making it an impractical substitution for certain types of baked goods, or as an additive in beverages.

Date sugar is made by chopping up dried dates.
Date sugar is made by chopping up dried dates.

Still, many like date sugar because it goes through minimal processing and by some it is considered more natural than sugar derived from sugar cane. It can be used as a substitute for other sweeteners in recipes that don’t require sugar to melt. When baked, it may appear in foods like small brown flecks, and its taste lends an overall sweetness to baked goods.

Dates growing on a date palm.
Dates growing on a date palm.

There are recommendations that sugar made from dates can be substituted cup for cup for brown sugar, but many find that this causes food to become too sweet. Some bakers who use date sugar regularly suggest instead that you use about two-thirds of the amount of brown or white sugar called for in a recipe to approximate a similar sweetness level.

Date sugar is very sweet, but doesn't melt.
Date sugar is very sweet, but doesn't melt.

You may be challenged trying to find this sugar, and other less known sugar substitutes. You’ll also pay much more for it. The average pound (.45 kg) of date sugar costs about $6 US dollars (USD), and many find this cost prohibitive, especially as compared to the cost of brown sugar derived from cane or beets, which normally costs about $2 USD per pound.

Fresh sugar beets are whitish roots that look slightly similar to turnips.
Fresh sugar beets are whitish roots that look slightly similar to turnips.

You’re most likely to be able to find date sugar in gourmet or specialty foods stores and in natural foods stores. You can also check Asian and Mediterranean grocery stores since these cultures make significant use of dates. If you buy organic versions of the sugar, expect to pay quite a bit more for it, especially if it is manufactured in the US. You will probably find less expensive imported versions in Asian and Mediterranean stores.

If you don’t want to bake with this sugar, you can still find lots of uses for it. For instance, a little plain yogurt and fruit can come alive with a sprinkling of date sugar on the top. Consider substituting it for brown sugar on cinnamon toasts. If you are into baking, there are many bread recipes, especially calling for whole grains that now suggest using sugar made from dates instead of brown sugar. These can lend a sweet and different taste to home baked bread.

Date sugar may be sprinkled on plain yogurt.
Date sugar may be sprinkled on plain yogurt.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

jgoriggan

Date sugar is not processed, so theoretically it is a healthier option to regular sugar cane. It does not render down well compared to regular sugar cane, so does not mix well with liquids. It's perfect for baking and cooking.

anon332223

I believe I'm allergic to date sugar.

anon67825

If you live in or near an Amish area, you should be able to find date sugar in an Amish store. That is where I get mine and it is quite cheap. By the way, it has never clumped on me and I use it regularly in my baking without incident!

anon64240

I want to make sugar from dates. can you recommend some equipment?

epcon9

Is date "sugar" really healthier than other sugars?

anon24268

Can I make date sugar by grinding dates in the

food processor? I have some dried-out dates and

would like to use them rather than discard them.

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