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

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.

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, stuffed dates, 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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    71 comments
    1. lainey
      October 21, 2020 AT 9:06 am

      interesting Thank you But still a little concerned, One website wans to never bite into a whole date larvae Other sites gave a way of eliminating Are there larvae

    2. Mark Nieberding
      October 13, 2020 AT 3:45 pm

      Thanks Brittany, we have dates on our Medjool date tree however after picking the dates and allowing them to dry naturally, they have not tasted sweet????? So are we picking them too soon or what? We still have several bunches up on the tree that are showing wrinkles and turning lite brown????
      Thanks for any assistance you might have!!

    3. Paul Duane Pudenz
      September 26, 2020 AT 7:29 pm

      First time I have ever tasted the Medjool date and I do love dates but these are SOOOOO GOOD. They are just so rich and tasty. Thank you for your information on these grapes. They will be a part of my diet now.

    4. DaVecchi
      August 22, 2020 AT 11:07 am

      Great job. Good Read, will find more from you later. Thanks! I use them to sweeten almond milk when I make it. Great snack2!
      Is it true dates are one of couple foods that can sustain life on its own?
      (per Mr.Wonderful on Shark Tank)

    5. Ragamuffin
      May 14, 2020 AT 11:35 am

      This was so interesting! I am new to buying fresh dates. Do you recommend going with pitted or unpitted dates? Pitted seems easier, but I don’t know what other considerations there may be. Thank you! 🙂

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 14, 2020 AT 3:52 pm

        Either would be fine! 🙂

    6. Dorothy Jordan
      April 30, 2020 AT 12:05 pm

      Thank you for your article and recipes I was looking to where these dates came from and I was surprised and your article was very informative and I really enjoyed it thank you very much

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 30, 2020 AT 10:49 pm

        You’re so welcome, Dorothy! I’m glad you found this post helpful.

    7. Christos Foufas
      April 22, 2020 AT 4:55 am

      Hi Brittany 👋 I arrived here after eating some dates and pecan nuts for brekkie with my coffee ☕ this morning 😍and wondering🤔how they are harvested? Really cool information here and will definitely try do a date tour one day. I love dates too ♥️😋 maybe we should date (just kidding) I’m definitely going to try some of your recipe’s especially the date and goats cheese one. Thanks and greetings from England 🙏🇬🇧💂‍♀️

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 23, 2020 AT 1:16 pm

        I’m so glad you found this post helpful, Christos!!

    8. Donna Keller
      April 20, 2020 AT 7:36 pm

      My dates expired on March 24, 2020. Are they safe to eat? The package hasn’t been opened.
      Thank you.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 20, 2020 AT 11:11 pm

        Hey Donna – As long as the dates don’t have a weird smell to them once you open the package, I would say they’re still fine to use.

    9. Robert Lawrence
      January 24, 2020 AT 6:05 am

      Leave in the fridge it’s like eating gummy bears😊

    10. James Cobb
      January 15, 2020 AT 4:16 pm

      Thanks so much for the informative article on madjool dates. I have always loved them, maybe a little too much. I have thought about growing them but have not gotten there yet. I certainly did not realize they were fresh.

    11. Shirley Hirschfeld
      December 13, 2019 AT 11:01 pm

      If the dates have not been processed does that mean the seeds will grow? thanks for the site, I love Medjool dates but did not know how healthy they are, thought they were a dirty little secret pleasure.

    12. Tedro Ncube
      November 26, 2019 AT 12:16 pm

      Hello thanks for the update sharing more on these. Fruit I will. Try to plant some.hope it grows

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 27, 2019 AT 2:00 am

        I’m glad you found this blog post useful, thank you for reading it!

    13. Mary Middleton
      November 7, 2019 AT 5:33 pm

      I enjoyed your lesson on dates. I am now excited to try dates. Thank you.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 8, 2019 AT 11:13 pm

        I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Mary!

    14. Kathy
      October 19, 2019 AT 9:03 am

      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

    15. katrina
      October 8, 2019 AT 9:46 pm

      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

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 9, 2019 AT 2:50 pm

        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.

    16. Hilmare Hotz
      September 20, 2019 AT 7:34 pm

      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!:)

    17. Andrew Pow | The Plant Riot
      July 6, 2019 AT 12:20 pm

      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.

    18. Debb
      June 20, 2019 AT 6:50 pm

      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…

    19. Bill
      May 11, 2019 AT 8:24 pm

      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!

    20. Crystal
      April 10, 2019 AT 11:42 am

      What a great post! I have literally never commented on a blog post, but this deserves kudos. I would LOVE to go there!! Such awesome pics too.

    21. Jay Kady
      December 25, 2018 AT 2:11 am

      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.

      1. Kat
        April 27, 2020 AT 7:15 pm

        That’s happened to me before. Were they pitted or not? Dates can grow mold, and I’ve found that pitted ones can get a black, dusty mold growing around the pit. If you are one you should be ok, but be careful in the future. After this happened to me twice, I’ve seriously cut down on my date consumption. I’ve been looking for online sources to learn about dates and mold, and there’s a disappointing dearth of information.

    22. Susan Parrigan
      August 29, 2018 AT 12:35 pm

      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!

    23. AnaMaria
      August 18, 2018 AT 10:48 am

      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.

    24. Judy Friedlander
      June 1, 2018 AT 3:45 pm

      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! ?

    25. Michelle
      May 3, 2018 AT 9:43 am

      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!

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