Nothing beats eating fresh dates. The date palm is an amazing tree and I feel privileged having a few in our garden. When date season arrives storage containers are needed as each date plam produces an abundance of fruit. Having more dates than we can consume…family and friends are always happy to receive. Placing a few containers of fresh dates in the freezer ensures a continuous supply of dates all year round.
Ekhlas, ( the prized date ) Al-Khoneizy, Al-Marzaban, (phonetically spelt) are varieties in our garden…each with its own characteristics and flavour. There are many other varieties of dates which are refered to as “Ratub” when fresh and “Tamor” when dried.
The Date Palm
Every part of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is used, from the tree trunk to its crown of arching fronds. Basket weaving and mats are a by-product of the palm tree which you can see at craft centers in Bahrain.
The date palm can grow to a height of 30 meters and starts to produce fruit between 3 and 5 years old. In order for the palm tree to bear fruit it is usually artificially pollinated by attaching the clusters of small creamy flowers that appear on the male tree over the flowers on the female tree, only then can the female tree produce the fruit.
Un-ripe dates are green in colour, maturing to yellow, then turn golden brown or a reddish-brown colour (depends on variety) when fully ripe. Each date palm can produce between five and ten clusters of dates, and each cluster can yield up-to 8 kg of dates.
Fresh dates are much lower in calories than dried dates and are a rich source of iron and potassium…excellent for anaemia, post-viral and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Fresh Dates (Ekhlas)
Dates are traditionally served with Arabic coffee but have a myriad of culinary uses in the kitchen.