Everything You Need to Know About Medjool Dates
Published Apr 01, 2019, Updated Jan 15, 2020
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Learn more about medjool dates — what they are, where and how they’re grown, why they’re healthy and how to use them in both sweet and savory recipes!
Are you ready to learn everything there is to know about medjool dates? Hopefully so because I recently had the pleasure of attending the Medjool Date Summit in Yuma, Arizona and I’m beyond excited to share all about medjool dates. First off, I’m sure you are well aware of this, but I LOVE medjool dates. I’ll eat them plain or stuffed with nut butter as a snack, but I also use them in both sweet and savory recipes all.the.time.
While growing, the date bunches are wrapped in bags to prevent birdies from snacking on them and to keep them from falling to the ground.
Where Are Medjool Dates Grown?
Before traveling out to Yum, AZ a to visit the beautiful date gardens, meet the Medjool date growers and harvest fresh dates, I was pretty ignorant about the growing process and didn’t know much about where medjool dates come from. I just knew that they were natural, healthy and tasted like caramel. I’m not sure if it’s possible to love them any more than I already did, but I definitely have a greater appreciation now that I’ve seen the whole process from date palm to package.
I learned a ton on the trip, but in an effort to keep this post manageable, I’m going to share some of the points that I thought were most interesting.
What Are Medjool Dates?
There are over 1,500 different date varieties grown in the world — they grow in warm climates like California, Arizona, Florida and the Middle East. Medjool dates are one of the most popular, known for their large size, soft texture and rich flavor.
Medjool dates are a FRESH FRUIT. Most people think of dates as a dried fruit because they’re thinking of the dates you buy in the baking aisle. Medjool dates are actually harvested from the date palm, cleaned, sorted and packaged right away. There’s no processing and they’re never physically or chemically dried. That’s why you’ll find them in the produce section at the grocery store.
Medjool dates have a rich, almost caramel-like taste and a soft, chewy texture whereas regular dates, commonly called Deglet Noor, are usually smaller and have a firm flesh and a sweet, delicate flavor.
The date in the back is still yellow and not yet ripe, the date in the middle is half ripe while the date in the front is golden brown and perfectly ripe.
How are Dates Grown?
All dates are grown on date palm trees — similar to coconut palm trees. There are male and female palms. The male’s sole purpose is to pollinate the female. Once that process is done, they just sit back and relax for the rest of the year while the females carry the heavy load and produce the fruit. <– Sounds just like humans. 😉
Growing Medjool date is a labor intensive process. The growers call it a labor of love. It takes about seven years for a tree to start producing. Once that happens growers have to go up and down the trees 12-15 times a year to tend to the dates. Farmers call their growing areas “date gardens” or “date groves”, not fields!
These are young date palms, the older ones are much taller.
The Medjool date originated in Morocco. 11 Medjool date palms were brought from Morocco to Nevada in 1927 and planted in Yuma in the 1940’s. Six of the eleven are still standing (and producing) in the Yuma date gardens. They’re affectionally referred to as the BIG SIX.
See what I mean about the older ones being taller!
Taken while on a tour of Datepac, where all the Natural Delight dates are packaged.
How to Store Medjool Dates
Medjool dates can be kept in your pantry but they’ll dry out a bit faster. For long storage it’s best to keep them in your fridge or freezer where they’ll stay fresh and delicious for months!
We were lucky enough to harvest and taste fresh dates, straight from the date palm tree. They are nothing short of amazing. Maybe one of the best tasting fruits ever — they’re so soft, creamy, rich and delicious. I wish you could taste these through the screen.
Are Medjool Dates Healthy
Medjool dates are healthy! They contain natural sugar, but they have a low/medium glycemic index score because they also contain a good amount of fiber, which slows the release of the carbohydrates and gives you sustained energy rather spiking your blood sugar crazy high. They’re also low in fat and packed with nutrients like potassium (50% more potassium by weight than a banana), copper, magnesium, vitamin B6, niacin, calcium, iron and vitamin K.
Are Medjool Dates Treated with pesticides?
Medjool dates grown in the Bard Valley are never treated with pesticides. The desert-like climate doesn’t allow for insects or pests to survive so it’s not necessary. Natural Delights do have a few certified organic date gardens so they do produce and sell organic Medjool dates, however many of the growers already use organic practices they just haven’t gone through the process of getting certified.
What is the White Stuff on Dates?
The white stuff you may occasionally see on the outside of a date is the natural sugar crystalizing and making its way to the outside of the date. It’s totally fine to eat, but if you don’t like the looks of the white stuff or if you want the date to be softer you can wrap it in a damp paper towel and microwave it for 5 seconds, the date will plump up and the sugar will be absorbed back into the date.
How to Eat Medjool Dates
There’s no wrong way to eat a Medjool date and there are a TON of different uses. Throughout the trip, every meal involved dates! We had date syrup for breakfast, dates in salads, cod with a bourbon date sauce, coconut date rice, stuffed dates, date caramelized crème brûlée and date sweetened cocktails. One night we even had dinner in the date gardens!
Sweet Medjool Date Recipes
- Date Caramel Sauce
- Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates
- Date Shake
- Homemade Samoas
- Homemade Larabars
- Almond Flour Muffins
- Homemade Turtles
- Oatmeal Date Cookies
- Salted Caramel Oatmeal
Savory Medjool Date Recipes
All the pretty photos were taken by Cat from Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth. She’s the best! All the iphone photos were taken by me. 🙂
Could you describe how dates are cleaned, irradiated and packaged?
Hey Bill – Medjool dates are actually harvested from the date palm, cleaned, sorted and packaged right away. There’s no processing and they’re never physically or chemically dried. Here’s another good resource that might have some additional information that you’re looking for!
I loved this story about Medjool dates, I learnt so much👏👏👏
Thank you x
Hi Sandra – I am so glad you enjoyed this and that it was helpful!
Hi Brittany….do the whole fresh Medjool dates need to be washed before eating? We usually get our dates from Sam’s Club,
Thanks, Mario G.
Hi Mario – Medjool dates are actually harvested from the date palm, cleaned, sorted and packaged right away. There’s no processing and they’re never physically or chemically dried. You do not have to wash them before eating. Although the white stuff you may occasionally see on the outside of a date is the natural sugar crystalizing and making its way to the outside of the date. It’s totally fine to eat, but if you don’t like the looks of the white stuff or if you want the date to be softer you can wrap it in a damp paper towel and microwave it for 5 seconds, the date will plump up and the sugar will be absorbed back into the date. I hope this helps, thank you for being here, I so appreciate it!
My family and I love medjool dates but never knew much about them. We so appreciate all the information (and pictures) explaining everything. Thank you!
Absolutely, Debbie. I am happy that you enjoyed this article! Thank you for being here, I so appreciate it!
I would like to buy some Medjool dates. One online stores has them and calls them “fresh.” Do these look dried at all? Will they mold or have problems if not dried enough? Or do I need to look for “dried” dates. Good article. Thanks!
Fresh dates are usually still dried a bit in the sun before picking and packaging. Which company are you planning to order from?
It’s actually a cool and useful piece of information about Medjool Dates. I’m satisfied that you shared this useful info with us.
Please stay us up to date like this.
Thank you for sharing.
Of course! I am glad you enjoyed this article.
do Hadley fancy medjool dates have wax on them?
Hi Carole – I do not believe they do, I would check the packaging before purchasing just to make sure.
What is Hadley fancy Madjool dates that I read about on here? Does these come from Natural Delights? Ohh and thank you for the recipes!!!
Hi Sylvia – Fancy grade Medjools are various sizes that may have some loose or broken skins and will be a little drier. They are still very good but didn’t make the Jumbo or Large grade. Medjool dates are the largest, sweetest, juiciest, type. Hope this helps!
Great article, just what I was looking for Date fruit.
Fantastic post, very informative. I’m wondering why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this.
You must continue your writing. I’m confident, you’ve
a great readers’ base already!
Keep us up-to-DATE on more fun, unique produce! Love your writing. Xo
LOL! Absolutely! Thank you so much, glad you are enjoying these articles!
I bought dates at Raleys a few times and they were very very sticky and were the best food I’ve ever eaten but sadly didn’t remember the brand name and most the seeds. I have been seen dates sold like that since and the Raleys near where I had once lived ended up closed and that was that. A face or two later still have not seen dates sold like that and the Medjool I tried were all clean and dry and gross. if I only I lived in Saudi Arabia so I could browse their date markets to figure this out. If anyone sells sticky dates I can order off eBay or Etsy or Amazon please email me at optimixone@gmail com
Hi! If you are finding that your medjool dates are a bit dry, you could soak them in warm water for a bit to soften them. Hope this helps!
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