Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Ingredient

Medjool Dates

Article Image
Save to Recipe Box
Print
Add Private Note
Saved Add to List

    Add to List

Print
Add Recipe Note

What is it?

Medjool dates, often called the king of dates, are considered to be the most sought after for their large size and rich, intensely sweet flesh. They’re golden-brown with glossy, slightly wrinkled skin. Their thin, wrinkly skin gives way to tender, juicy flesh with a caramel-like flavor that adds a hint of the exotic to any snack or meal.

The king of dates comes with a royal price tag, too, though. But with good reason. These special fruits are pricey because their cultivation is incredibly labor-intensive. In order to ensure quality and yield, Medjool date palms need to be hand-pollinated, pruned, and protected. And each delicate date must be hand-picked.

Dates grow on large palm trees in hot, arid climates, and at least 50 types have been cultivated in the Middle East and North Africa for about 6,000 years. In the 1950s, during a date blight in Morocco, botanists began planting date varieties in California. All had names except for the biggest, plumpest, sweetest of the bunch, which came to be called Medjool—Arabic for unknown.

Dates are usually left to dry on the tree before being harvested, which accounts for their wrinkly appearance and places them in a peculiar category of being both dried and fresh. Different types of dates have different textures that fall into three categories: soft, like Medjool; semisoft, which are chewy and are pitted before packaging to dry a little more; and dry, which are often sun-dried after harvest and sold chopped.

Medjool dates are available in some grocery stores and specialty markets from late summer through midfall.

How to choose:

Medjool dates are often sold in plastic-wrapped boxes in grocery store produce sections, as well as in bulk bins. The latter allows you to pick and choose your dates; look for plump, evenly colored ones, with no sugar crystals or mold on the outside. Avoid very shriveled dates or those with mold or large sugar crystals on the skin.

They can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two weeks, or refrigerated for several months. Remove the pits just before eating to prevent the interior from drying out. To do this, slit or halve the dates lengthwise, and pluck out the pit with your fingers.

How to prep:

Given Medjool’s pleasantly sticky sweetness, they’re often used in baking. But they also make a great addition to your morning yogurt or cereal, and work well in savory preparations like braises and in side dishes or salads. And of course, they’re fantastic just eaten out of hand.

Eat Medjools raw to enjoy their soft, luscious texture. Snack on them out of hand, add them to salads, or stuff them with cheese or nuts as an hors d’oeuvre. For a classic cooked Medjool hors d’ouevre, wrap them in bacon and give them a quick broil. They also add sweetness and complexity to stews and braises. Bake them into cakes and cookies, like the oatmeal ones at right, or use them to sweeten and thicken smoothies.

Medjool dates are intensely sweet, so they contrast well with salty flavors, like cured meat, as well as tangy flavors like citrus, yogurt, mild goat cheese, and blue cheese. They also pair well with warm flavors, like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, and other fruits, like pears, apples, and bananas.

How to store:

Dates can stay on your counter, covered, for about a week. They can also be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for up to six months.

    Recipes

  • Recipe

    Orange, Pear, and Date Salad with Orange-Rosemary Vinaigrette

    Though the jewel-like tones of orange slices scream for attention, the charm of this refreshing salad is its balanced, simple, almost subdued flavors, which beguile with every bite.

  • Recipe

    Banana and Walnut Sticky Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce

    For the final course of his holiday menu, chef Luke Thomas pairs two of his favorite things, bananas and sticky pudding, which is not a pudding in the American sense…

  • Recipe

    Oatmeal Cookie Butter

    This sweet, fruity butter tastes like the most sophisticated cookie dough you’ve ever licked off a spoon. It's amazing on warm, fresh bread, or for a sweet snack spread it…

  • Recipe

    Oatmeal Date Cookies

    These chewy oatmeal cookies get warm, complex flavor from cardamom and caramelly Medjool dates. They won’t spread much and aren’t completely even in shape, which adds to their rustic appeal.

  • Recipe

    Date-and-Walnut-Filled Cookies (Koloocheh)

    These butter cookies are unmistakably Middle Eastern; Persian Jews make them at Purim, while Arabic Christians eat a similar cookie at Easter, as do Muslims during various Eid celebrations. The…

  • Recipe

    Sticky Toffee Pudding with Cranberries

    This pièce-de-résistance dessert is ideal for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other cold-weather holidays. To the much-loved British classic, it adds seasonal fresh and dried cranberries; the former dot the luxuriant sauce.…

  • Recipe

    Tamarind Date Chutney

    Chutneys run the gamut from thin and smooth to thick and chunky. This smooth chutney, which balances the tartness of tamarind with the sweetness of dates, is a delicious accompaniment…

  • Recipe

    Crostini with Brie Dates and Toasted Walnuts

    This nibble builds on the classic pairing of cheese, dried fruit, and nuts. A splash of balsamic vinegar helps bring together all the flavors. The crostini are best served right…

  • Recipe

    Fried Date and Bacon Pinchos

    These bacon-wrapped dates are a tapas party classic. Salty, sweet, crunchy, and chewy--what's not to love?

  • Recipe

    Date-Mint Chutney

    In this Indian-inspired condiment, the richness of the dates gets a lift from the freshness of the mint. It's great with roast meats, and it also makes a simple spread…

Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Delicious Dish

Find the inspiration you crave for your love of cooking

Fine Cooking Magazine

Subscribe today
and save up to 44%

Already a subscriber? Log in.

Video

View All

Season 4 Extras

Bonus Scene: Bee Farm in Greenough, Montana

Montana's wall-to-wall grass and wildflowers make it the perfect place to raise bees and harvest honey. In this extended scene from Season 4's Greenough, Montana, episode, we visit beekeeper Sam…

View all Moveable Feast recipes and video extras

Connect

Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks