Did you know that there are more than 3000 date varieties around the world? They vary according to size, colour, texture, antioxidant activity, phenolic content etc. All these varieties allow the ancient super-fruit to be used in a number of ways, depending on the nutritional and mechanical characteristics of each.
There are about 400 varieties in Iran, 400 in Saudi Arabia, 370 in Iraq, 250 in Tunisia, 250 in Oman and 244 in Morocco, as well as many additional varieties in the other major date growing countries. They are not necessarily all suitable for human consumption and industrial manufacturing – in fact, only about 200-400 varieties are used for trade worldwide (FAO, 2000). In 2014, there were 7.5 million metric tonnes of dates produced around the globe – with about 4,500 tonnes of dates consumed in the UK alone (Nut and Dried Fruit Statistical Overview, 2015).
Date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) have been cultivated for more than 7,000 years and are one of the oldest cultivated plants of human kind.Dates have traditionally been used for different medical purposes, and have been recently scientifically proven to aid with various types of disease prevention through their anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity (Nassar et al, 2016). Today, dates are exported by tens of countries led by Egypt and followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq and Pakistan. This makes about 3% of the Earth’s farmland covered by date palms!
Dates are a staple food in arid and semi-arid regions of North Africa, Middle East and South-Asian countries, where they have not only economic and agricultural role, but are of great social and religious importance as well. Ajwa date in particular bears high religious value, since it is believed that it was Prophet Mohammed’s favourite date and is consequently mentioned on few occasions in Koran. The Medjool is believed to be the ‘king of dates’ due to its rich caramel succulence. With its large shape and dark colour, it is one of the juiciest dates, prefect for snacking or covering with chocolate. Deglet Nour, crowned as the ‘queen of dates’, enjoys similar popularity. Its name means light, which has the origins in its translucence.
Here at Beloved, we recommend using dates not only for snacking, but also for baking and cooking and therefore substituting refined sugars and increasing the fiber content of final products. The most popular date for the use in baking is Sayer, which is slightly easier to depit and chop. It is semi-dry and therefore more convenient for storage with longer shelf life than other varieties. Barhi, Khadrawy, Khalas, Lulu, Dabbas, Halawi and Zahidi are also very famous dates worldwide, each having their own particularities regarding the colour, flavour, nutrients and origins.
To offer additional convenience and desired texture in recipe formulations, Beloved have developed and are supplying a range of 100% natural date ingredients:
- Date Paste is particularly great in chutneys, sauces, cakes, desserts, and fruit bars
- Chopped Dates are very common in breakfast cereals, cereal bars, desserts and puddings, as well as in bakery
- Dark Date Juice Concentrate is indispensable in sauces, desserts, cakes, soft drinks, dairy, and as a binder and sweetener in granola and cereal bars
- Golden Date Juice Concentrate is suitable for replacing refined golden syrup and invert sugars and sweeteners in cakes, confectionery, ice-creams and desserts
- Clear Date Juice Concentrate makes a perfect match with ice-creams and other dairy products, or with desserts when light colour is required
If you want to learn more about dates, please follow our LinkedIn page and subscribe to our newsletter on the bottom of the page. We’ll be sharing more information about each date variety on a regular basis. If you’re interested in any of the ingredients (not limited to the list above), please feel free to get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or giving us a call at +44 (0) 1 733 856 620.
- FAO. (2000). Botanical and Systematic Description of the Date Palm.
- Nassar O. M, Amin M. A, Hassan M. E, Nasr H. A. (2016) Identifying The Natural Antioxidants and Total Phenols of Some Date Varieties in Saudi Arabia. Biosci Biotech Res Asia 13 (2).
- Nut and Dried Fruit Statistical Overview. (2015). Global Statistical Review 2014-2015.