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Dates – why this exotic desert fruit is so popular

Oval, sweet, and brownish-red to golden – that’s dates as we love them! The fruit of the date palm, it is first and foremost their sweet taste that makes dates so popular. We reveal more about this tasty desert fruit.

One of our special dishes is highly exotic: our Insalata Levante is a tasty composition of delicate baby spinach, mangold, aromatic wild herbs, dried dates, chick peas, fresh tomatoes and creamy hummus for dipping, topped off with our homemade dressing. The dates give the salad a touch of the Orient. But where do these slightly sweet fruits come from and what dishes can be prepared with them?

What are dates and where do they come from?

Dates are the fruit of a palm that is native to the Persian Gulf where it has been cultivated for over 6,000 years. Today date palms can be found from North Africa to Afghanistan. The dates on our supermarket shelves mostly come from Egypt, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

When it comes to harvesting dates, the older the palm the greater the yield. Date palms aged between 80 and 100 years old can annually produce up to 100 kilos of the fruit which grow to lengths of up to eight centimetres. The fruit is, however, only harvested every two years. The tastiest dates grow on palms that are around 30 years old; female date palms give the best fruit. There are, incidentally, around 400 different varieties.

Fresh dates are on sale here in the colder months, from September to January. They can be bought in dried form or frozen all year round. In order to dry the fruit, they are harvested while still only half ripe and are then dried either in the sun or artificially.

Apart from their delicious, aromatic flavour, dates also contain lots of different vitamins and minerals. They are rich in Vitamins A, B and C, as well as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

You’ll be amazed at how versatile dates can be!

Dates are real all-rounders and are used both for sweet and savoury dishes. Fresh dates are a popular Christmas treat, best suited for desserts. As a starter, dates wrapped in bacon are simply unbeatable. This desert fruit is also ideal for baked goods, as a tasty buffet nibble, or as a great source of energy in between times. And, of course, dates are also a good ingredient in an exotic salad.

See for yourself and try our Insalata Levante with dried dates! Or take a look at what’s in stock in the supermarket. This little delicacy is definitely worth sampling!