We use a lot of dates in my house, ever since my husband started making green smoothies every day, and using them to sweeten up his drink.
I’ve also become addicted to power balls, which are made from nuts and dried fruit. They’re so easy to whip up. That being said, we’ve found it’s more economical to buy them in bulk.
Since they’re mostly sugar, they last a very long time. You don’t really have to worry about them going bad, but they may lose their delicious flavor and texture.
There’s a little bit to learn about the proper way of storing them, so I’ll share my knowledge here, along with a brief summary of their culinary uses, and the qualities of different varieties.
Uses and Varieties
If you’re not familiar with this fruit, it’s very popular in the organic and natural food world, and the Middle East. During Ramadan, they’re used to break the fast.
The two most common varieties are the Medjool and the Deglet Noor. Depending on where you live, you might also find other types including Barhi, Honey, Thoory, and Zahidi.
Personally, I favor the Medjool. It’s plumper, super moist, and very sweet. It’s the ultimate way to sweeten a smoothie or dessert recipe.
Deglet, on the other hand, is the opposite: skinnier, drier, and only moderately sweet. These are great for eating on their own, or using in savory dishes.
Though different types offer different qualities of texture and flavor, you can store both types the same way.
Preserve Flavor by Keeping Cold
Like I mentioned above, this is a sweet fruit, and they’re technically already dried – so you don’t have to worry about them going bad.
However, it’s recommended that you store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator if you plan to use them within 30 days.
If you buy a whole heap of them from your grocery’s bulk section, and you don’t see yourself using them up for a few months, it’s best that you place them in the freezer.
When you plan to use some, simply take a few out the day before. Freezing them will not diminish the flavor or texture, and this is one frozen item that actually thaws rather nicely.
I will say that I’ve kept ours in the pantry for a few weeks, even up to a month, and they’ve been fine.
If you only have a handful, storing them at room temperature is going to be fine. But for long-term storage, the refrigerator or the freezer is definitely the way to go.
Additional Useful Tips
If you happen to keep your dried fruit in the freezer, and then you need them to be super soft for use in a recipe, just soak the fruit in a bowl of super hot water.
You only need to let them soak for a few hours, and you’ll have sticky soft fruit before you know it.
These days, more and more people are cutting sugar out of their diets, or at least being very cautious of it – myself included.
That being said, this fruit is a better alternative than processed sugars as it contains fiber, which makes it possible for the body to absorb those sugars more slowly, preventing the type of sugar spikes that may lead to insulin resistant.
Dates are also usually raw, which means the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes are still intact. They make a delicious addition to hot and cold cereal or yogurt, or a tasty snack on their own.
They can also be boiled and turned into a syrup. The resulting product can be used in place of honey and other liquid sweeteners, as well as white or brown sugars. Date syrups have a wonderful caramel flavor that I love adding to cookies.
I really enjoy this fruit, and I hope this will encourage you to start featuring it in your recipes.
If you have questions about this sweet fruit, or tips on how you like to store them, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Photo credits: Shutterstock.
About Sarah Hagstrom
Sarah is a health food advocate and loves to spend her time whipping up something healthy and delicious in the kitchen and then sharing either on Foodal or on her own blog "The Seasonal Diet" (www.theseasonaldiet.com). She lives in Sunny San Diego with her husband, where they enjoy running on the beach and weekend adventures.