Last Updated : Jan 19,2018
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Dates are a surprising combination of nice sticky sweetness and good health too! They are available in various varieties, of which the black and red ones are quite popular.
Black Dates are oval-cylindrical in shape, 3-7 cm long, and 2-3 cm in diameter. When ripe, they become black while the raw one ranges in colour from bright red to bright yellow, depending on variety. Dates contain a single seed about 2-2.5 cm long and 6-8 mm thick, surrounded by a thick pulp that gets sticky when ripe.
Apart from being an excellent source of iron, fibre and other nutrients, dates also have high tannin content, which is used medicinally as a cleanser and astringent effective in treating intestinal troubles. Dates consumed as an infusion, decoction, syrup or paste, also helps in other conditions like sore throat, colds, bronchial catarrh and fever too.
Chopped black seedless dates
Place the seedless black dates on a chopping board and using a sharp knife, cut them into thin strips vertically. Now place these strips together and chop them into small or big pieces as per the recipe requirement. Make sure to place a plastic sheet on the chopping board as these dates tend to stick on the board.
How to select
• While selecting dates, look for those which are plump and evenly coloured.
• The sticky surface of dates attracts dust and other impurities. Therefore, it is better to buy well-packaged brands, or from closed bins.
• As the date fruit dries, the sugars will concentrate in the dense, moist flesh, ultimately forming sugar crystals on the outside of the date. If a date has formed sugar crystals, it is usually less than ideal to eat, as the flesh will be dry and leathery.
• Dry or soft dates can be eaten just plain, or pitted and stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, candied orange, lemon peel, Tahini, marzipan or cream cheese.
• Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savoury dishes such as the Moroccan Tajines (Tagines), Arabian Ka’ak (cookies), puddings, etc.
• Dates are also processed into cubes, a paste called ajwa, spread or syrup.
• Recent innovations include dates jam, chocolate-covered dates, and sparkling date juice, used in some Islamic countries as a non-alcoholic version of champagne, for special occasions and religious times such as Ramadan.
How to store
• Fresh dates will last for up to two weeks under refrigeration, while preserved dates can last much longer, depending on how they are preserved.
• Always preserve dates in a dry and clean airtight container, away from direct sunlight or moisture.
• Black dates contain a high percentage of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and dietary fibre.
• They contain elemental fluorine that is useful in protecting teeth against decay.
• Selenium, which improves immune function and is believed to help prevent cancer, is also found in dates.
• The protein in dates contains 23 types of amino acids, some of which are not present in the most popular fruits.
• The black date is a laxative food if soaked in water overnight and consumed as a fine syrup the next morning.
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