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What is a Date Fruit? Unveiling the Sweet Secrets of Nature's Candy

Editorial Team
Updated Jan 29, 2024
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What Is a Date Fruit?

Savor the sweetness of history with each bite of date fruit, a delectable treat hailing from the date palm tree. Indigenous to Northern Africa and the Middle East, this ancient fruit has been a staple for millennia. While fresh dates offer a succulent experience, dried dates, which are available year-round, provide a convenient and versatile option for snacking and culinary exploration. Renowned for their rich, caramel-like flavor, dates are a cornerstone in Middle Eastern dishes and have woven their way into Mediterranean culinary traditions. Whether you're seeking a nutritious snack or a natural sweetener for desserts, understanding what is a date fruit unlocks a world of gastronomic possibilities.

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.

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.

What do dates taste like?

Date fruits are very sweet and rich tasting without being too sugary. They have a flavor that is similar to brown sugar, molasses, and caramel. Dates can be eaten raw or cooked into a variety of dishes from bread to puddings. The nutritional benefits found in dates make them invaluable as a food source because they contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help keep your body healthy.

How many dates to eat per day?

One date fruit contains about 12 grams of date fruit and the number of date seeds inside each date may vary. It's best to eat 100 g of dates or a few dates each day to get all of your required nutrients. It is ideal to consume 100 g. Consuming date fruits raw is preferable, but if you want to use them in cooking or baking then try soaking them for 5 hours first to soften them up.

Do dates need to be refrigerated?

Dates do not need to be refrigerated, however, it is best to store date fruits in a tightly closed container in the pantry. The date seeds will last for many years when stored properly and date fruit can also be frozen if you plan on using them later. Date seeds should not be eaten raw because they contain phytic acid which prevents the body from absorbing minerals. The date seed must first be soaked in water or roasted in order for the body to absorb all of the nutrients and minerals inside the date fruit.

What kind of fruit is a date?

Dates are a sweet and chewy type of dried fruit that originates from the date tree. Dates can be eaten like other dried fruits such as raisins, prunes, and figs. They come in different shapes and sizes depending on where they originate from; there is much debate about where dates originated from because the date palm tree is native to North Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. This puts their origination right in the center of major food-producing regions in our world today.

Date fruits (also called date varieties) come in many forms including whole fresh dates, chopped dates, pieces or sundried pieces, or any combination thereof. Date fruits.

Are dates fruits or nuts?

Date fruits are a type of stone fruit. Date fruits come from date trees, which are botanically classified as palms. So, date fruits are seeds that grow on date palm trees. The date seeds ripen into date fruits which provide fiber, antioxidants and, essential minerals to the diet.

Are date fruits healthy?

Dates are very good for you! Dates contain many beneficial nutrients including fiber, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, and iron. The best way to get all these health benefits is to eat date fruit in its whole form. Dates are not just nutritious, but are very tasty too!

How do you eat date fruit?

You can eat a date fruit whole or use these fruits to make date fruit smoothies, date fruit compote, or date fruit salad. You can also soak dates in water for five hours and then blend them into a puree makes an excellent date fruit spread that you can put on toast, muffins, or even oatmeal. Date fruit is great when added to desserts because it adds moisture and natural sweetness without the refined sugars found in other sweeteners. It's delicious when combined with cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and nuts for an easy healthy dessert recipe.

Is a date the same thing as a date palm?

A date is a fruit that grows on a date palm tree. There are many variations of date palms that produce date seeds. Some varieties of date palm trees can grow very tall, while others remain fairly short. There are many types of date fruit that originate from different places around the world. Date fruits range in taste from very sweet to tart depending on where they come from and what type of date palm tree they were grown on.

What is the difference between fresh and dried dates?

Fresh date fruit and dried dates both originate from date palm trees. Fresh date fruit has a firm texture and contains an edible seed that is enclosed in a layer of date fruit pulp. Dry date fruits (aka dried dates) are often made by first removing the pit of the fruit to help the date dry out more evenly.

There are many types of date palms including Deglet Noor, Zahidi, Halawi, Barhi, Khadrawy, and many more varieties that all have their own unique flavor profile. When you buy fresh date fruits they should still have the skin on them and date seeds should be soft with a date fruit center that is still chewy. When date fruits are dried they lose most of their water content and date seeds become firm.

What other countries produce dates?

The leading countries that grow fresh dates include Egypt, Algeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the UAE.

Are dates fruit or a vegetable?

There are several classifications of dates. There are soft dates, semi-dry dates, and dry dates. Date fruits are classified as either "fresh" if they have not been dehydrated or "dry" if they have been dehydrated. Dried dates are classified as being in the dried fruits category with raisins, currants, apricots, and mangoes, among others. A date is a stone fruit, meaning it has a single seed, surrounded by outer fleshy fruit.

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By Editorial Team
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Discussion Comments
By datefruit — On Apr 21, 2022

Reading online that eating dates helps in pregnancy. But I read elsewhere that it causes weight gain. Does not being overweight make it difficult to give birth? Do you know about this?

By anon1004632 — On Mar 19, 2021

Thanks for all the info about fresh dates fruit. It's my favorite.

By anon964836 — On Aug 07, 2014

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?

By anon939527 — On Mar 14, 2014

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

By anon336842 — On May 31, 2013

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

By anon333332 — On May 04, 2013

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

By anon325075 — On Mar 14, 2013

Dates with cream cheese -- sublime.

By anon314350 — On Jan 17, 2013

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.

By anon280335 — On Jul 17, 2012

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.

By anon233491 — On Dec 07, 2011

but is it better to eat dates or sharkfin soup?

By anon212347 — On Sep 06, 2011

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.

By anon170119 — On Apr 25, 2011

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!

By anon151691 — On Feb 11, 2011

i am just learning what dates are.

By anon150006 — On Feb 06, 2011

Can dates be frozen and used later?

By anon135022 — On Dec 16, 2010

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.

By anon123051 — On Oct 30, 2010

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.

By anon115228 — On Oct 01, 2010

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

By anon109908 — On Sep 09, 2010

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.

By anon108004 — On Sep 01, 2010

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

By anon105073 — On Aug 19, 2010

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

By amypollick — On Jun 24, 2010

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.

By anon91845 — On Jun 24, 2010

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.

By anon91844 — On Jun 24, 2010

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.

By anon83855 — On May 12, 2010

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

Thanks, Eric G., Saint Louis, MO

By anon73856 — On Mar 29, 2010

do dates help for menopause?

By anon70549 — On Mar 15, 2010

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

By laluna — On Feb 09, 2010

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.

By anon64391 — On Feb 07, 2010

are dates fattening?

By Cosmicbaboo — On Jan 10, 2010

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

By anon58917 — On Jan 05, 2010

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

By anon55253 — On Dec 06, 2009

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

By anon54305 — On Nov 29, 2009

should i eat dates during my preganancy?

By anon50602 — On Oct 30, 2009

where we can buy date fruits?

By anon49419 — On Oct 20, 2009

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?

By anon49085 — On Oct 17, 2009

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

By amypollick — On Sep 24, 2009

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.

By anon46334 — On Sep 24, 2009

are dates good for diabetic people?

By anon42683 — On Aug 23, 2009

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

By anon42247 — On Aug 20, 2009

How do you preserve dates?

By anon42244 — On Aug 20, 2009

How do you dry the fresh dates to eat later?

By anon40595 — On Aug 09, 2009

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.

By anon39934 — On Aug 05, 2009

does consuming of dates increase fat in the body?

By anon37057 — On Jul 16, 2009

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

By anon36208 — On Jul 10, 2009

can dates be frozen?

By anon31141 — On Apr 30, 2009

Are dates good for fertility?

By ivankotika — On Jan 29, 2009

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?

By jabuka — On Nov 09, 2008

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.

By jabuka — On Aug 28, 2008

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.

By anon10766 — On Apr 02, 2008

Are dates advisable in the period of pregnancy trying?

Does it produce heat in the body?

By mkgtitli — On Feb 14, 2008

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.

By anon3642 — On Sep 10, 2007

whether date fruit is good for diabetics

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
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