Everything You Need to Know About Medjool Dates

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.

Dates growing on palms

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.

Group photo of bloggers at mejdool summit.

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.

Fresh medjool dates in the palm of a hand.

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!

Date palms lining a drive in Yuma Arizona.

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.

Big Six Date Palms

See what I mean about the older ones being taller! 

Datepac Packaging

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.

Medjool Date Harvest

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.

Organic Medjool Dates

 

Harvesting Dates

9. The white stuff you may occasionally see on the outside of a date is the natural sugar crystalizing and making it’s 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.

In a Date Palm Tree

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, date caramelized crème brûlée and date sweetened cocktails. One night we even had dinner in the date gardens!

Sweet Medjool Date Recipes

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. 🙂

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    54 comments
  1. So enjoyed learning about your article on medjool dates, my granddaughter mentioned them in a recipe, so we googled and your article came up. Boy was I educated!!!!
    Loved all your info and can’t wait to try some !!!
    Blessings, Kathy

  2. Hi Brittany,

    I came across your page whilst researching best handling practices for bringing frozen medjool dates to ambient temperatures while still maintaining the best quality dates. I’m just curious if they spoke about that on your tour of the fields?

    Any insight would be appreciated!

    Thank you,
    Katrina

    • Hi Katrina! I didn’t learn a ton of about freezing and thawing dates on this trip, but I know that dates can be frozen and will last in the freeze for a year or more. They never fully freeze due to the high sugar content. In terms of thawing I would place them in the fridge to thaw completely for the best results.

  3. luuuuuuuve dates too, dates n milk! .. soya milk as become intolerant to dairy milk, superb bit of reading, I can feel your love for dates, great! Happy ‘da’ting! Ha Ha!:)

  4. Hi Brittany,
    I came across your post while researching Medjool dates for a protein bites recipe.
    I really enjoyed the article! So much great information on how Medjool dates are sourced (I think of them are Nature’s caramel).
    Also really jealous of your trip out to Yuma in Arizona. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve linked here from my blog post.

  5. Under the section “How to Eat Medjool Dates”, you mention a *bourbon date sauce*. Boy did my eyes open wide!! But as I continued to read the article, I became disappointed because I didn’t see a recipe. Would love to see that recipe…

  6. It was enjoyable & educational trip to the Bard Valley date farm. I learned additional facts, such as limited of no pesticide use,heat & weather deter them,some history, bagging method to separate the ripe dates from the green. Most of all I enjoyed many of the comments from people that enjoy Medjool dates with the enthusiasm that I have. Dates are a marvelous gift from GOD!

  7. We came across one in a PKG that was very black, not much smell, tasted smokey. We did not injest, and r sort of freaked out, what was it. I would post a pic but don’t see that option. Ours were purchased from Costco.

  8. I love dates and found a new way to use them. I was looking for a recipe for almond milk and found one that used dates to sweeten it. You take 4 cups water, 2 tablespoons almond butter, 4 dates, a pinch of salt and some vanilla then just blend.
    Best almond milk you will ever drink!

  9. OMG! I was so ignorant about delicious dates that I had thought that after harvesting them, they were marinated in sugar before selling them commercially. Now I know they are so natural. Thank you for your very informative post.

  10. Hi, just read your incredibly tasty article. I wrote an entire paragraph just now and it was lost as the website had to re-boot, don’t you just hate when that happens! I’m 70 years young and have always loved dates thanks to my mom. Medjool are by far my favorite?. I live in Tucson Arizona so not far from Yuma. Is this a tour that is available to the general public? Whenever I drive towards San Diego,Calif. on Interstate 8 I make sure to stop at Dateland, purchase some of these gems and, of course, have a date shake !! I’ll stop now before the connection is lost! ?

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this! I love medjool dates and it’s a relief to know that they naturally do not need to be sprayed with chemicals or undergo extra treatments to rid them of insects. Yay for clean food!

  12. And here I was paying out the ass for organic dates! I had just assumed they were viciously sprayed like everything else and felt uncomfortable about eating unwashed fruit. I’m so relieved i dont have to pay for organic ones now thanks for your great post 😀

  13. Hi these dates are imported into Australia are they irradiated or treated in any way to prevent bugs from entering the country?

  14. Another post pointed this out that the factory workers handling the dates are not wearing gloves.What gives?

  15. love love love love love dates.

    I’ve only tasted about 6 or 7 varieties, so that’s nothing compared to the 1,500 that are grown.

    i prefer to use them in place of sweetener for any food I may prepare.

  16. In Galveston Texas I just collected off the ground some fresh Medjool dates (still yellow) How does one mature them to become brown and sweet? Thanks

    • I read that in Israel they put the yellow dates in the freezer for a day or two and then let them come to room temperature and they ripen.

      • I would like a recipe, PLEASE. I hope it’s not to much trouble. MyrnaGore@gmailcom

        I appreciate it dea

      • Hi –

        I’m looking for a little guidance. I recently discovered that two of the palms on the golf course just off my back patio are in fact dates (by photos, I think medjool). They are currently yellow. Based upon the images in this article, I wrapped one of the bunches in hopes that I can harvest it once ripened. My question is, how long does it normally take them to ripen from yellow, and should I wait until they are brown and wrinkled to remove from the tree? I’m in Las Vegas if that matters for temperature reasons. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Cheers!

    • I’d like it too. I’ve recently joined Weight Watchers & you can only have fresh dates for zero points I didn’t know these were considered FRESH I’m doing the happy dance ???????? as I lovvvvve them too. And the rolled ones in almondsor coconut as well ❤️Thank youuuuuu for sharing your info Britt????????

  17. Wow how awesone Brittany the places and things you get to see and learn. Amazing and you get to share with us. I am new with dates and absolutely love them.

  18. I didn’t know you could eat them fresh off the tree! Here in Arizona people have date palm trees and a lot of people don’t harvest them so the dates fall to the ground and are very messy. The palm trees are too tall to just grab some otherwise I would steal some!

    • Oh, I bet they are very messy/sticky when they’re on the ground. Such a shame you can’t go snag a few from the palms that aren’t being harvested. If I lived in Arizona I would definitely grow a date palm in my yard. That would be so cool!

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