Everything You Need to Know About Medjool Dates


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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.

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. 🙂

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

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  1. Wow I actually never knew how they grew and most definitely just considered them a dried fruit. Medjool dates are the best!!! One of my staples!

      1. Incorrect
        Fresh dates are soft and squishy.
        There are several ways of drying them for future use.

  2. 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!

    1. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. It was really fun to read this and learn so much about dates. I never really think about them, to be honest! I just enjoy eating them. I had no idea that dates were so labor intensive to harvest.

    1. Hi Denise, I don’t have a recipe for the date rolls but I do have a recipe for pumpkin spiced balls made with dates. Check it out here. They’re made with almonds and walnuts instead of pecans but you could sub pecans if you’d like! 🙂

    2. 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????????

  5. 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

    1. Hi Gil. That’s so cool, but I actually don’t know if it’s possible to mature them off the tree. We harvested the brown dates directly from the tree.

      1. 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!

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

        I appreciate it dea

    2. 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.

  6. Love this post! Recently we discovered Medjool dates and have been incorporating them into Whole30 recipes. They are amazing blended into coffee with a little bit of coconut milk when you are needing to sweeten thing up a bit! Thanks for sharing!


  7. 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.

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

  9. I bought some fresh medjool dates from a market they are yellow at the moment how do I ripen them thanks phyllis

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

  11. 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 😀

    1. Organic farming seems to be a big issue, but without some type of control and certification there is much organic produce being sold by unscrupulous individuals that is not organic. I would not waste my money buying organic, and spending the extra money, unless I was sure that it was, in fact, organic!

  12. 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!

  13. 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! ?

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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…

  20. 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.

  21. 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!:)

  22. 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,

    1. 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.

  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

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

    1. 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.

  27. 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 🙏🇬🇧💂‍♀️

  28. 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

  29. 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! 🙂

  30. 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)

  31. 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.

  32. 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!!

  33. 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

  34. Just opened up package of dates and saw a worm. Is it okay to eat the rest. Are these worms bad for you if accidentally injected?

  35. Hi! I’ve been buying Medjool dates from Trader Joe’s. The package says to refrigerate after opening, with the result that the dates are really tough to chew. I recently found them at Aldi. There was nothing on the packaging about refrigerating them, so I left them out. They are 200% better! Should I continue to leave them out, icluding the ones I get at Trader Joe’s?

    1. I store mine in the pantry for the most part, but they will last longer in the fridge. If they become hard you can always soak them in warm water for 10 minutes and they’ll become moist and soft again. 🙂


  36. My experience is that dates have a very thin, almost plastic, skin, like a thin shrimp shell. The fruit is DELICIOUS, but the skin is very thin and not a good mouth-feel. Like I said, like chewing a very thin shrimp-tail shell.
    I have tasted dates from the Middle East that seemed to be soaked in honey. They were clumped together and gooey and they had NONE of that plastic, then shrimp shell mouth feel. I was given these by someone and do not know where they came from. Do you know of dates that are like this? If so, I will buy LOTS of them because those were SO DELICIOUS!!!

  37. Hello. I’m looking for Medjool date powder, organic if possible. I’ve only been able to find Deglet date powder. Do you know where I might purchase it? Thank you.

  38. My family loves dates I have not tasted Medjool dates but I am going to.I buy a type of date that says bathed in sunshine and ripened to perfection does this mean cooked or altered in any way?

  39. I just bought a Lara Bar & I wondered what the dates were ! I looked up where dates come from & I found you. How amazing-It took me 86 years to find out about dates, I guess I never looked them up

    1. At room temperature, dates can last between a month up to 3 months. When you keep them in the fridge, they last between 6 and 12 months.

  40. I use the medjool dates to make date squares,which consist of a filling made with oatmeal.my mother used to make these.so I learned to make it myself so yummy.i wish I could buy the dates,already melted down.i used to live near canada,where .I could cross the border to buy the dates already processed in a can I dont know why I cant find any in the stores here in the states. Anyone know if any pie processing company .do it,put processed dates on a can

    1. Solo pastry and pie fillings may or may not still make date filling. Solo’s fillings are in a can. They are in the baking supplies aisle.

  41. Migrant farmers harvest the dates, and it would have been nice to offer a tribute to them. They usually get forgotten in these articles.

  42. I am confused. You say that they are grown in Arizona, how come the package says “grown and processed in Israel”.Is it an American product or imported from overseas ?

  43. Thanks so much for educating me on Medjool dates! I’m a recent fan and wanted to know it’s origins.

  44. I would like to know the best way to wrap dates for the freezer. — Please and THANK YOU!!

  45. I share the same love for medjool dates, so I really appreciated reading this! Thanks for the info!!

  46. Hi I love Medjool dates I use to buy organic one but there’s not any place where i can see if this product is not with sulfites , I am very healthy but when I eat the dates I notices I have phlegm. Can you Tellme please if contain preservatives?

    1. Hi I love Medjool dates I use to buy organic one but there’s not any place where i can see if this product is not with sulfites , I am very healthy but when I eat the dates I notices I have phlegm. Can you Tellme please if contain preservatives?

    2. Sulfites: I have the same issue with sulfites causing phlegm and breathing issues a few hours after eating products with sulfites. I would like to know if dates contain sulfites.

  47. My family has severed stuffed dates all my life. Love them! I really love the trees. I grew 2 from seed found at Moody Gardens Galveston TX. We had a terrible freeze last February and lost both. Could I grow trees from theMedjool dates I bought at the store? They were both male trees but I would like a female one for fruit. Is there a way to recognize a male from a female by the seed?
    Thank you

    1. I would love to know the answer to this as well as I have two growing currently in a pot. I got brought to this thread because I noticed some Thorns growing on them and I wanted to make sure that that was normal, turns out it is. Just moved from New England to Florida one year ago and these trees are now 3 years old.

      1. I know it takes about 7 years for the date trees to become ready. Now I am not exactly sure the answer to your question, Marilyn. I have not tried growing them so I am not exactly sure about the seeds. So sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

      1. Thanks for getting back to me!

        They’re supposed to be regular dates, with the pits. It’s just that some of them seem perfectly normal other than not having a pit, and I’m curious if some dates just grow without a pit, as if the cells that make the sweet pulp just never got the message that there’s no seed.

        They’re rather low-priced, but generally quite good, although you have to be careful because a few may be rotten or moldy.

  48. Hi Brittany! I really enjoyed your post and will try your recipes featuring dates. One question: Do we need to wash the medjool dates?


  49. This post was wonderful thank you for all the information.

    How long would the dates keep in the fridge vs freezer? And would vacuum sealing the dates for the freezer be okay?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hey Tanya – medjool dates should last about 6 months in the fridge and yes, I bet vacuum sealing them for the freezer would be okay!

  50. Hi,
    I accidentally put 2 unpitted medjool dates in my vitamix (with 8 apples) to make applesauce. I’m reading mixed info about the safety of the ground up pits.
    Is it safe to eat in your opinion?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Kerry! I did a quick google search and it looks like they are technically safe to eat (ie they’re not toxic). I even saw that some people are roasting, grinding and making coffee from date seeds. So in general, I’m thinking that as long as the date pits are fully blended, the applesauce should/could still be edible. Of course, this was from a google search so you’ll want to use your best judgment here!

  51. Hello!
    Do you know any recipe of sourdough bread with medjool dates? I tought they can be used like raisins but maybe you know some interesting recipes with different type of flours and combinations!
    Thank you 🙂

  52. You didn’t mention the white fuzz inside the dates. when i first had one, this freaked me out. I thought it was mold! I threw out the whole bad. Can you explain what this fuzzy stuff is?

  53. That was an informative article. Thanks a lot for the same
    I have quickly kept the Dates in the refrigerator after getting to know that they are Fresh Fruit😀

    1. I’m so glad you found this post helpful, Ajay! Thanks for leaving a review, I appreciate it.

    1. 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!

  54. 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.

    1. 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!

  55. 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!

    1. Absolutely, Debbie. I am happy that you enjoyed this article! Thank you for being here, I so appreciate it!

  56. 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!

    1. Fresh dates are usually still dried a bit in the sun before picking and packaging. Which company are you planning to order from?

  57. 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.

    1. Hi Carole – I do not believe they do, I would check the packaging before purchasing just to make sure.

      1. 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!!!

        1. 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!

  58. 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!

  59. 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

    1. 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!

  60. I’m diabetic and I’m so excited to try the banana date smoothie. I have 2 but bags in my pantry, and didn’t know what to do with them, and now I do. this article was very helpful to me. thank you so much.