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What Do Dates Taste Like? Guide To This Awesome Fruit!


What do dates taste like? Did you know that dates are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world? In today’s food guide, you will learn all about dates, different types, and their flavor profile.

white plate filled with dates.

What Are Dates?

Dates or date palms are flowering palms native to the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. A date palm tree can grow up to 100 feet in height. At first glance, these trees look like coconuts. They have the same leaf shape but different fruits. Instead of large husky fruits, date palms have small oval-shaped fruits called “dates.”

Date fruits grow in clusters and range between 1 to 3 inches long. Depending on the variety, they come in varying colors, from brown, red, or yellow. In most markets, there are at least 14 varieties to choose from.

You can buy dates fresh or dried. Often, growers leave the fruits longer on the palm after they ripen. This process helps the natural sugars intensify and enable the “drying process.” The method also extends the date’s shelf life.

Fresh dates and dried dates have different flavors and textures.

Fresh dates have smooth skin and are soft to the touch. They have high sugar content, and you can eat them raw. Dates taste sweet with caramel tones and a chocolatey aftertaste.

Dried dates have a texture similar to raisins. They are still soft but have a chewier texture when you bite them. Dried dates are sweeter than fresh dates. The drying process has allowed the natural sugars to cure and intensify. 

What Do Dates Taste Like?

Dates taste like rich and intense caramel. They have sweet flavors notes. Some people state that dates have subtle tones of chocolate or toffee. 

Dried dates taste sweeter compared to regular dates. At this point, their natural sugars have crystallized and intensified their flavors. Others state that dried dates taste similar to other dried fruits.

How to Use Dates

There are many ways to use dates in sweet and savory dishes. Fresh and dried dates are the perfect pair for coffee during breakfast. You can eat them raw or chop them up as toppings for toast. Fresh dates are also a great addition to salads and stews.

On the other hand, dried dates are very popular with baked goods. They are often used with different nuts and fruits to make bread, pastries, or other desserts. Chopped dried dates also make delicious additions to oatmeal, smoothies, or pancakes.

Benefits of Eating Dates

There are many benefits to adding dates to your diet. Unlike other fruits, dates are high in calories.

If you are watching your carb intake, the dates are packed with carbs, and eating dates often may not be a good idea.

However, there are other advantages to the fruit. They are rich in fiber content. The carbs act as natural fuel for the body. You can eat a few pieces of dates, and it’ll give you tons of energy. Plus, dates are high in antioxidants.

Dates Nutrition

Dates are a natural superfood. Even just one piece of date consists of fiber, protein, and various vitamins and minerals.

They are also rich in iron, potassium, and vitamin B. On their own, two pieces of dates have at least 100 calories.

Different Types of Dates

In the Middle East, you can choose from over ten types of dates. Unfortunately, not all varieties are available in the United States. But if you find yourself an opportunity, don’t miss out on these 14 types of dates:

1. Medjool Dates

Fresh medjool dates are the most commonly eaten dates in the Middle East. They are primarily grown in the countries of Morocco, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia. These fruits are bigger than commercial dates. They can range from 2 to 3 inches in length.

These dates are either brown or red in color. Despite their size, they are soft and firm. They have a wrinkled texture, especially when dried. Medjool dates have a rich and sweet taste, making them perfect for fresh eating.

2. Piarom Dates

Piarom dates are one of the oldest varieties. History states that these dates existed as far back as ancient Mesopotamia. At present, they are mainly grown around the Persian Gulf.

Piarom dates are smaller than Medjool dates. They have long thin shapes, and their brown skin is attached to their juicy flesh. Since it’s lower in moisture, these dates are a good choice if you’re watching your sugar. Piarom dates are less sweet but have a richer caramel flavor.

3. Deglet Noor Dates

Deglet Noor means “date of the light.” This is because holding this date against the sun gives off a bright golden shine. Deglet Noor dates range from yellow to brown in color.

They are generally smaller than other dates. They are also low in moisture, so their texture is slightly dry. However, they have a light and delicately sweet flavor that’s perfect for cooking. You can add these dates to rice, oatmeal, or stews.

4. Mazafati Dates

At first glance, Mazafati dates look like chocolate beans. Although they are small, these dates are plump and uniform in appearance. They have dark brown skin with a visible pit on one side. We recommend removing the pit and pairing the fruit with any cheese of your choice.

Mazafati dates originated from Iran. They are often used in recipes for stuffings or prepared as snacks. Mazafati dates also have a high moisture content and are incredibly juicy. Aside from the sweet tones, they have hints of chocolate and caramel flavors.

5. Barhi Dates

Although Barhi dates originated from Iraq, they are well known in the United States. People prefer their signature bright yellow color, which turns golden brown. Barhi dates are soft and firm but have a fragile texture.

We recommend adding Barhi dates for dessert recipes. Their light, delicate, and sweet flavor is comparable to syrup. You can also eat them raw and pair them with other fresh fruits or nuts.

6. Rabbi Dates

Though their appearance may not have a strong impression, don’t underestimate Rabbi dates. These dates are one of the oldest and most delicious of the varieties. These dates originally came from Iran but are now enjoyed around the world.

Rabbi dates are medium-sized and oval-shaped. Their colors range from red to brown, depending on the moisture content. Due to their thin skin, Rabbi dates have a soft, chewy, yet extremely sweet flavor. These dates are the best for snacking, baked desserts, or candied dates.

7. Thoory Dates

Thoory dates, also known as Thuri, are a popular snack in Algeria. They are medium to large in size and have golden brown skins. Thoory dates take the longest to ripen out of all the types of dates.

However, the wait is worth it. Thoory dates have the perfect combination of sweet and nutty flavors. They also have a dry texture which is preferable in baking. Thoory dates are also called the “bread date.” This is because it’s the go-to fruit for making pastries.

8. Sayer Dates

Sayer dates are commonly eaten in the Middle East. They are small dates with yellow skins. As they ripen, the skins turn dark brown. They are also low in moisture, so they have a slightly dry texture on the tongue.

Sayer dates are best used for snacking. You can eat them fresh or candied. They are also excellent for dried dates because they dry up quickly. Sayer dates have the signature sweet flavor you expect from a regular date. 

9. Dayri Dates

Dayri dates are another variety that originates from Iraq. They are relatively large dates similar to Medjool dates. Before harvest, these dates have bright red skins. After plucking, they turn into amber and brown after drying.

Although Dayri dates have a soft texture, they have a sweet yet heavy flavor. People opt for Dayri dates when they’re using fruits in the stuffing. You can also use these fruits to compliment any hearty or savory dish. Dayri dates are best paired with salted meat or soft cheese. 

10. Halawy Dates

Halawy dates are notable for their sweetness hence their name. In Arabic, Halawy directly translates to “sweet.” They are smaller than most dates and are light brown in color. 

Halawy dates have a soft yet tender texture. They are slightly chewy in the mouth but still enjoyable. Aside from the sweet taste, these dates have hints of caramel and honey. They taste great with oatmeal, cereals, or smoothies.

11. Sukkary Dates

Another premium date on the list is Sukkary dates. Mainly cultivated in the Al Qassim region, locals call these fruits the “Queen of Dates.” Sukkary dates have a deep golden color and a creamy texture.

These dates instantly melt in your mouth and leave a sweet yet crispy flavor. They are often used as sugar alternatives in recipes. Another interesting fact is that Sukkary dates are also used in healing treatments.

12. Khudri Dates

Khudri dates are the main variety in Egypt, but they are also popular in Saudi Arabia. They range in size but have a general appearance of smooth brown skin. Although these dates don’t wrinkle, the skin may develop flakes over time.

Khudri dates are also used as a replacement for sugar due to their natural sweetness. When eaten raw, they are chewy and dry, similar to raisins. They are not as sweet as most dates but are still great for snacking. 

13. Zahidi Dates

Zahidi dates are another premium fruit on this list. They are nobility snacks because of their unique flavor. Compared to other dates, they are like apricots in texture and flavor.

Their skins range from yellow and orange to red. Like apricots, they have soft and juicy flesh. Zahidi dates taste sweet with distinct nutty flavors. They also taste like sweetened peanut butter.

14. Safawi Dates

Lastly, we have Safawi dates. These dates are usually medium-sized and have dark smooth skins. The longer it ages, the more wrinkly the skin becomes. Unfortunately, this means that the dates become harder to chew.

However, Safawi dates are still delicious despite their tough texture. They are sweeter than other varieties and have more complex flavors.

Can You Eat Raw Dates?

Yes, you can eat raw dates. Most people prefer eating them this way. Fresh dates taste sweet because of their natural sugars. We recommend pairing them with starchy or intense flavors like bread or coffee.

Do Dates Taste Like Raisins?

Since they bear a close resemblance to grapes, it’s only natural to ask, “do dates taste like raisins?” Yes, dates actually taste similar to raisins. They have the same soft yet chewy texture. They also have identical sweet flavors. The only difference is that dates are sweeter and have a more caramel-like taste.

Do Dates Taste Like Caramel?

Yes, dates taste like caramel. In fact, it’s the closest thing to describing the fruit’s flavors. While dates are distinctly sweet, they have a slightly nutty flavor. This is why dates are often paired with other sweets like chocolate or vanilla. The combination of flavors compliments the food really well.

Do Dates Taste Like Chocolate?

Yes, dates taste like chocolate, but it’s not their dominant flavor. However, these fruits pair excellently with chocolate desserts. You can add dates to brownies, cookies, or chocolate ice cream. The sweet and nutty flavors compliment the chocolate’s rich and intense flavor.

Do Dates Taste Like Vanilla?

No, dates don’t taste like vanilla, but it’s possible to infuse them with spice. Vanilla is a natural flavor enhancer that works well with any ingredient. You can caramelize the fruits in sugar or honey when making candied dates and add vanilla beans. This will intensify the aroma and add a new layer of smoky flavors.

What Do Dates Taste Good With?

Dates are flexible when it comes to recipes. This is a credit to their natural sweetness and hints of caramel and chocolate. The date palm taste is subtle when cooking, so it won’t overwhelm the other ingredients. 

Dates are best paired with chocolate, caramel, or strong drinks like coffee. You can also use date paste in baked goods, desserts, or as stuffing. If you feel more adventurous, add them to rich and hearty stews.

How to Store Dates

Fresh dates are best eaten within 7 days of harvesting. This ensures that you enjoy its maximum flavors. You can extend their shelf life, but only up to a month. As long as you keep them in an airtight container and away from the elements, they should be edible.

However, it’s important to note that dates’ flavors deteriorate over time. If you want to save them for much later, we recommend keeping them in the fridge. Any tight container or ziplock bag will do. You can also opt for freezing them. Frozen dates can last up to 1 or 2 years.

Let frozen dates thaw naturally at room temperature. Since these fruits have high water content, they will freeze nicely. You’ll still be able to taste its original freshness and sweetness.

What Are Medjool Dates?

Medjool dates are the most common type of dates found in the market. They are medium to large in size and have wrinkly brown skin. Medjool dates are best eaten raw or in dried form for their sweet flavors.

Is There A Difference Between Medjool Dates And Regular Dates?

Yes, Medjool dates are softer and sweeter than regular dates. With the regular variety, you’ll need to soak them before using them in the cooking process. However, regular dates have more fiber and protein content than Medjool dates.

Do Dates Help You Lose Weight?

Yes, dates may help in weight loss. Dates have a high-calorie count, but they are natural body fuel.

What Is The Best Way To Eat Dates?

The best way to eat dates is either fresh or dried. Fresh dates are high in water content, so they can be very refreshing. Dried dates are sweeter and more fun to eat as a snack.

Do Dates Need To Be Refrigerated?

You don’t need to refrigerate dates, which can help extend their shelf life. Dates can last up to a week in your pantry but a month in the fridge. You can also freeze dates for up to 2 years.

How Can You Make Dates Taste Better?

To answer this question, you need to ask first: what do dates taste like? Remember that dates taste like sweet caramel with nutty flavors. You can make dates taste better in many ways. There are dried dates, caramelized dates, or pureed dates. You can also add dates to breakfast foods, desserts, or drinks. Dates also taste great with savory and hearty dishes.

Conclusion

Dates are fruits from date palms. They are primarily cultivated in Middle Eastern countries and are one of the oldest consumed fruits known to man. They have wide varieties.

In general, dates are medium to large in size. They have varying colors, from yellow, brown, or red. They have soft and firm textures which turn wrinkly as they dry. Dates have a distinctly sweet flavor with hints of caramel. All dates have a slightly nutty aftertaste. 

Dried dates are sweeter compared to fresh dates. They are often eaten as snacks or chopped up and added to desserts. Fresh dates can last a week on their own. But for longer shelf life, we recommend keeping them in the fridge.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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