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Dates are the very sweet fruit of the date palm.[1]



Dates are oblong, with a thin papery skin and a single central seed.[1][2] The color can range from deep golden to dark brown, depending on the variety.[1] They have a high sugar content, making them sticky and sweet.[1][2][3]



Dates begin as small, green, inedible fruit. At the khalal stage, the fruits are starting to change color but are largely inedible,[4][5] though some individuals may like to eat them cooked. Rutab marks the first fully edible stage, with juicy fruit, though they are still delicate and perishable here.[4][5] When left to fully mature on the tree, the dates dry out to become dark-colored and stable, with a high sugar concentration.[4][5]

Assorted date varieties



In terms of cultivated varieties, dates come in three main types. Soft dates have a high moisture content and are the kind typically grown for eating at the wet/rutab stage, with a relatively low sugar level.[4] Semi-dry dates have less moisture, though they are still flexible to the tooth.[4][6] Dry/hard dates are very stiff and very sweet, and may even be turned into a flour.[4][7]

Selection and storage


When choosing dates, they should look appropriately plump according to the stage of development and the variety.[1][6] Fresh immature dates are perishable and must be kept in the fridge.[3] Fully mature dried dates generally have a long shelf life at room temperature. If exposed to air for too long, they may dry out. If you can, choose whole dates, and pit/process them yourself instead of getting pre-chopped dates.[3]

Dates are popular to eat simply as is or as part of a larger dish. They may be stuffed and served as hors d'oeuvres or petits fours, and they can also be cut into pieces for use in baked goods.[1][3] They can also be processed into a paste, syrup, or "sugar", which is really just ground dried date.[7][8]

When cutting dates, you'll want to oil or flour your knife to reduce excess sticking.[6] Avoid mincing unless you want to get a paste.[6]



If you simply want to use dates as the dried fruit component of a larger whole (e.g. muffins), you can easily substitute with another high-sugar dried fruit.




  1. a b c d e f Labensky, Sarah; Martel, Priscilla; Damme, Eddy Van (2015-01-06). On Baking: A Textbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals, Updated Edition. Pearson Education. ISBN 978-0-13-388675-7.
  2. a b Rinsky, Glenn; Rinsky, Laura Halpin (2008-02-28). The Pastry Chef's Companion: A Comprehensive Resource Guide for the Baking and Pastry Professional. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-00955-0.
  3. a b c d Friberg, Bo (2016-09-13). The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-46629-2.
  4. a b c d e f Davidson, Alan (2014-01-01). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  5. a b c "The Growth Stages of the Date | The Date People". Retrieved 2024-06-05.
  6. a b c d Kipfer, Barbara Ann (2012-04-11). The Culinarian: A Kitchen Desk Reference. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-544-18603-3.
  7. a b The Chefs of Le Cordon Bleu (2011-12-02). Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking Foundations. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4390-5713-1.
  8. Amendola, Joseph; Rees, Nicole (2003-01-03). Understanding Baking: The Art and Science of Baking. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-44418-3.