Living in Palestine we were spoiled with the very best of dates. The large juicy medjoul dates, the smaller varieties and the our first discovery of the unripe greenish ones. A real delight. We made many fun varieties of cakes and musli bars.

In my childhood, I remember dates but we only had them for Christmas time. We had a large bowl were the dates were joined by oranges, tangerines, apples, mainly the variety called "pigeon", dried figs and whole walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Next to that basket was a plate of sweets. Homemade of course: "Pepparkakor", vanilla rings, Finish bread and chocolate pralines, fudge and all kinds of other specialties both from Sweden and from Denmark.

The original date palm tree, Phoenix dactylifera grows in the desert. Dates are harvested from June to October - 20-50 kg pr year from a tree. The taste of the dates varies from variety to variety. The biggest and most juicy ones are the medjouls. They grow in Palestine. My friend Jamileh has more than 30 palms in a little village near the Dead Sea, where she harvest every year. You can learn more about the farm and watch a little movie about the farm here.

More about dates
Dates are grown in Northern Africa, the Middle East, Horn of Africa and Southern Asia. For thousand of years the date has been the staple food in the Middle East and in the valley of Indus. The total production pr year is estimated to 8.5 million tonnes

And their benefits
Below are listed some of the health benefits of dates:

  • laxative effect when constipation especially when soaked in water over night.
  • high fiber content.
  • source of "fast" energy therefore useful for diabetics and when you need a boost of energy. However, do not eat too many as they contain lots of sugar.
  • contain much vitamin A and can therefore help delay macular degeneration and support the sight.
  • relieve intoxification and when a hang over the high levels of fructose help decompose the alcohol.
  • in studies, the variety Hallawi has proved to contribute to the control of the cholesterol level due to its high levels of a component that is also in tea.
  • contribute to the increase of the good cholesterol and decrease of the bad.
  • contains little sodium and high levels of potassium. Potassium levels regulates blood volume and pressure through extraction of water and salt.
  • affects the microbiota in the gut and strengthens the immune system.
  • decrease the effect of cortisol, which decreases the inflammation in particular when aging.
  • high content of vitamin K and magnesium helping to strengthen the bones and muscles.
  • good source of iron and therefore useful by anemia.
  • a good healthy source of sweet for the sweet tooth as it is full of vitamins and minerals.
  • good when you need to gain weight in a healthy way.

So yes, numerous reasons to keep a small storage of dates in your pantry. The other day I made a cup of chai tea and I cut some dates and puts the pieces in the tea. Natural sweetener, so no need for honey or white sugar. An idea to try.

Another great thing to try is an orange date cake, once made by my sweet lovely Danish yoga teacher Helle, whom taught us in Uganda. The recipe is not a secret but will need a little bit of research into my files. Maybe it will come later. 

I wish you lots of fun with dates in your diet and kitchen.