Monday, July 25, 2016

Fresh Dates

Those dark dried fruits with the papery skins that Mama used to buy for fruitcake were the only dates I ever ate. They are sugary sweet and I considered them a treat.


 Our friend Kenneth brought me a bucket of fresh dates from his Mama's date palm.
I didn't know dates grew locally; never did anybody point out dates growing when
I used to travel 10 counties in SW Georgia.


These are not the long and slender medjool dates that we bought at the store. These are round and oh, so fragrant.

I spent time looking for directions on ripening and preserving these fruits and how to best use them.

It seems there are 4 stages of a ripe date:

 Khalal: full size fresh fruits, but still green and not edible
    Bisr: colors start changing and sugars start developing
    Rutab: softening and darkening
    Tamr: ready for packing

These are past Khalal, I think. They have tints of red and yellow and are not astringent when bitten into. They aren't as sweet as I imagined so I guess they have not yet reached Rutab. Kenneth and Rose eat them, and 2 of their 3 grandsons. He told me I would need to ripen these further.

The various ways of ripening include freezing, which I am going to try; air drying which is in progress and dehydrating. With temperatures outside in the high 90s I opted not to try having the oven on at 180-190º F for an extended period.

Right now they are spread on an enamel broiler pan lid with nylon net above and below to keep out insects and perched on a cardboard box in the Mule Barn where they'll be hot enough to dry. I will pick out a few to freeze and a few to refrigerate.

One of the sources that I read described an acid pretreatment. They used lemon juice. Lacking lemon juice, I used vinegar and water. They needed washing anyway. There was no explanation of why pretreatment is necessary, but I figure it is to prevent mold.  It isn't to prevent color changes, because dates naturally turn brown as they dry.



This morning as I read, I noted one source suggested that dates be chilled before eating fresh. There is a definite difference between the taste of mango at room temperature and cold mango flesh, so I decided I might like my dates chilled as well. Chilling mango removes the turpentine like aftertaste. It will be interesting to see if chilling enhances dates. 

Among the recipes I may try are date bread pudding and oatmeal bars with date filling.

5 comments:

  1. How exciting! I love trying new foods and new ways of making things to eat. I love that you're experimenting with a new food -- well, an old food in a new form to you. I love dried dates too, and have only ever had them that way.

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  2. So very interesting, I only know the dry dates and they are delicious. Fresh dates look rather different I should not recognize them as dates. So exciting to try them in different ways, good luck!

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  3. Who knew? How kind of your friend to share and nice to learn something new! Happy eating.

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  4. Wow! I have never seen a fresh date much less eaten one. Food adventure for sure.

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  5. I read an article a few months about several farms in S. Georgia are trying to produce Dates and doing very well with the idea. Google it.

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I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.



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