Dated

I like dates… not historical ones, although I find them quite interesting… no I mean the fruit, phoenix dactylifera… well, actually that is the name of the tree, the dactylifera part comes from the Greek for finger and it’s where dates get their name from. I never realised, all the time I’ve been eating them, that they are really good for me! I thought they must be not as healthy as other fruit because they are so sweet. They have loads of vitamins and minerals, antioxidant flavonoids (yes, really) fibre, no cholesterol, tannins and  simple sugars such as fructose and dextrose. They are good for energy too

Vitamins
Folates 15 µg 4%
Niacin 1.610 mg 10%
Pantothenic acid 0.805 mg 16%
Pyridoxine 0.249 mg 19%
Riboflavin 0.060 mg 4.5%
Thiamin 0.050 mg 4%
Vitamin A 149 IU 5%
Vitamin C 0 mg 0%
Vitamin K 2.7 µg 2%
Electrolytes
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 696 mg 16%
Minerals
Calcium 64 mg 6.5%
Copper 0.362 mg 40%
Iron 0.90 mg 11%
Magnesium 54 mg 13%
Manganese 0.296 mg 13%
Phosphorus 62 mg 9%
Zinc 0.44 mg 4%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-ß 89 µg
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 23 µg

There are over 7,000 metric tonnes of dates produced each year, and as you would guess they are grown all around the countries of North Africa and the Middle east with Saudi Arabia being the biggest producer, but they are also grown in parts of the USA and Mexico.

As well as a food source (for animals as well in some countries) dates can be made into wine, their young leaves used as a vegetable, the trees tapped for sap which becomes palm syrup or jaggery,  Their seeds can be dried and made into flour, the flowers can be eaten, the buds used in salad… what a very useful tree!

I never really thought about date varieties, although obviously, like every other plant, there are many different dates from big fat ones, to smaller slender ones, golden and lush, dark and rich… I’m making my mouth water now! I think many people have heard of madjoul dates, what about  barny, jebaily, khoudry or gharr? There seem to be an A to Z selection of dates, from afandi to zaewy!

There is an excellent article with great photos here:

http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200404/.carrying.dates.to.hajar..htm

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