A date is a sweet, edible fruit that comes from the date palm tree. Dates, a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years, are oval-cylindrical, 3–7 cm long, and 2–3 cm diameter, and when unripe, range from bright red to bright yellow in color, depending on variety.
They are often served pitted with stuffings such as cheese, tahini, nuts, or wrapped in bacon (a Western appetizer).
Dates do have a high health level, though with a lot of sugar. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%%; the remainder consists of protein, fiber, and trace elements including boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc.
The date is an erect palm to 100 or 120 ft (30.5-36.5 m), the trunk clothed from the ground up with upward-pointing, overlapping, persistent, woody leaf bases. As the fruits develop, the stalk holding the cluster may elongate 6 ft (1.8 m) while it bends over because of the weight. The fruit is oblong, long, dark-brown, reddish, or yellowish-brown when ripe with thin or thickish skin, thick, sweet flesh and a single, cylindrical, slender, very hard stone grooved down one side.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be seeded and stuffed, or chopped and used in a great variety of ways: on cereal, in pudding, bread, cakes, cookies, ice cream, or candy bars. The pitting may be done in factories either by crushing and sieving the fruits or, with more sophistication, by piercing the seed out, leaving the fruit whole.
Conserving and Storing
Fresh dates will last for up to two weeks under refrigeration, while preserved dates can last much longer, depending on how they are preserved.