Have you ever eaten a dried date? My earliest memory of eating a date was in the fifth grade at Park Lodge Elementary in Lakewood. I opened up my lunch pail, packed by my mom, and there were several dates. Each one contained vanilla icing and a walnut half. I loved them. This would have been around 1957. It wasn’t until the mid-1900s that dates were actually grown here in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent out world-wide explorers in 1898 searching for new food crops. What they returned with were mangoes, avocados, new varieties of sweet oranges, and dates. Dates were really not that new to the rest of the world. Fossil records indicate that the date palms have been around for at least 50 million years. Our ancestors began cultivating dates about nine thousand years ago. The date capital of the U.S. is Coachella Valley, California, which grows about 90% of our date production.
We generally produce two varieties of dates: the Medjool and the Deglet Noor. I prefer the larger medjool, which is cultivated around Yuma, Arizona.
“The impressive benefits of medjool dates include their ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, improve bone-mineral density, protect cognition, and boost metabolism. Medjool dates also ensure proper hormone production, optimize digestion, and help with normal growth and development.” – www.organicfacts.net/medjool-dates.html
Most people just simply eat dates as they come, but they are missing a treat if that’s all they do. My friend Debora Robinett is a registered Seattle-Tacoma dietitian offering healthy recipes, nutrition and dietary information through the Health Enhancement Corporation. Take a look at this Star Fine Foods segment on “New Day Northwest” on KING-TV with Debora Robinett – Medjool Date recipes. – youtu.be/yWN2toEqmaQ.
Because medjool dates are larger, you can get more creative with them. I love medjool dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon. Or you could stuff them with coconut and pistachio or simply stuffed with chorizo. If you are into ice cream, you could churn yourself a pomegranate molasses, and date dessert to die for. BBQ pork roast with date chutney has me drooling just writing it down. Other great suggestions are grilled romaine salad with pecans and dates, tacos with roasted cauliflower and dates, and sliced dates on a BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato) sandwich. Don’t these sound like perfect picnic foods? I can hardly wait for summer . . . and I probably won’t.