You’re no doubt familiar with dates as a healthy treat ideally suited to anyone looking to eat less refined sugar.
But you may not realise that not all dates are created equal! And there are key differences between regular or pitted Deglet Noor dates and the Medjool dates variety, also known as the ‘baker’s sweetheart’ or ‘the king of dates’ due to their sweet taste and larger size respectively. Native to Morocco, and grown on the date palm, Medjool dates are also cultivated in warmer parts of the US as well as Africa, the Middle East and south Asia.
Standard pitted dates have a firm skin and range in colour from light red to amber, while their taste is fairly pithy and sweet.
For their part, the darker Medjool dates have a rich flavour often likened to caramel, with a chewy texture. And it is these factors which made them popular with royalty in times gone by – they’re among the world’s oldest cultivated fruits. Each one has a single stone, surrounded by edible flesh.
In terms of calories, there’s hardly any difference between the two date varieties, although Medjool dates do have slightly fewer. What really sets Medjool dates apart, however, is the type of sugars they contain. While glucose and fructose dominate Medjool dates, the Deglet Noor fruits have sucrose, glucose and fructose in equal amounts – sucrose being another name for table sugar. Fructose sugars are fruit-based; glucose is a simple product providing energy.
And because Medjool dates tend to be allowed to ripen for longer, they may comprise more natural sugars.
Harvesting Medjool dates is a labour-intensive process; this variety also tends to have a shorter shelf-life. This is sometimes reflected in the price, but for fans the richer, more luxurious taste is worth it.
How can you enjoy Medjool dates?
When it comes to preparing and eating these fruits, many baking recipes insist on Medjool products, since their consistency makes them the perfect swap for caramels, syrups and caramelised sugars. (Although standard dates are ideal in toppings and for adding texture to treats such as fruit-and-nut bars.)
Enjoy these versatile dates as a snack, incorporate into desserts, cakes or fruit breads, or make a rich date syrup. Serve stuffed with cheese, blitz into a smoothie or throw them into a gorgeous salad. Alternatively, combine with oats, nuts and almond butter in no-bake bites for an instant energy blast.
What are the health benefits of Medjool dates?
Medjool dates are a 100% natural, vegan ingredient. They’re high in insoluble fibre, which can help with issues from Type 2 diabetes to cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.
These sweetmeats also have many antioxidants including flavonoids plus phenolic acids, again associated with reducing the risk of certain diseases. They’re also a rich source of potassium, a mineral which lowers the odds of high blood pressure, strokes and calcium depletion.
Buy Dates at Ganesha
At family business Ganesha Wholefoods, we offer Jordanian organic Medjool dates in 3kg presentation boxes; the fruit is hand-picked and guaranteed to have been cultivated without pesticides or other chemicals.
We also supply this product in regular 1kg bags alongside other date varieties.
Ask us about recipe ideas if you need further inspiration, or have any other questions about Medjool dates.
Shop online or pop into one of our three Devon stores in Axminster, Honiton and Sidmouth. Shipping is free on orders over £40.