During the holiday season, all of us notice an abundance of jars filled with holiday wrapped candies. Sweet and enticing for sure! Some of the readers will remember my blog on God’s Candy. I thought about my mother’s favorite statement this weekend as I walked by a display at a local grocery store. Dates were on display. Do you like sweets? I have one of nature’s most sweet fruit for you to try.
Date fruit is one of the oldest cultivated tree crops. Dates are a staple in the Mediterranean. So abundant and a quick source of energy, it is known as the "bread of the desert". Its species name is from the Greek word meaning finger because of its finger like shape. The fruit turns dark brown as it ripens and sun-dries. Dates are less than 30 percent moisture so their sweetness is concentrated similar to candy. Dates are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. In the United States, they are sold pitted on the shelf near the dried fruit section of the grocery store.
I enjoy eating dates like some people eat candy, directly from the bag. They can also be served stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, chopped and added to rice pilaf and quick breads, or sprinkled on oatmeal or granola. For 10 easy ways to enjoy dates, click on this link to the fruits and veggies matter website. Because of their low moisture content, dates have a longer shelf life than most fruits. They can be stored in an airtight container for a month or refrigerated for up to one year.