Dates – one of the oldest crops cultivated by man

Grand Crescent Moon Sunset

Today is the first day of Ramadhan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims. No food or water is taken in from sunrise to sunset. The crescent moon signals the beginning of a spiritual month meant for purifying soul and body and cultivating patience, love, gratitude and kindness. It is time spent in prayers and devotion to God.

I love the spirit of this month. I have a lot of happy memories of growing up and celebrating this tradition regardless of where we were living.

 The fast is broken at sunset with dates in line with the tradition of the prophet. Dates helped sustain the desert and nomadic peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. They have been found in earthen jars in the tombs of Pharaohs and Kings. While living in Doha, Qatar, I remember getting an abundance of fresh dates from the Prince’s farm. My husband was working for the prince (not that he got to see him). He did get to see the wives and palaces!

Dates are one of the natural raw sweeteners used in the Raw Food lifestyle. They are used in smoothies, desserts, just as they are or filled with a variety of fillings.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran are the world’s largest growers of dates. There are an incredible variety of dates. I usually buy the Medjool (Arabic for unknown) from the Bard Valley in California.

The medjool palm trees are orginally from Morocco and were given to the United States in the 1920’s when disease was threatening the existence of the dates.

Deglet Noor (Arabic for date of light) is another popular variety.

Last week I discovered fresh organic dates from Iran. So very yummy. The stores are carrying more varieties right now due to Ramadhan. So it is a good time to discover and stock up on some delicious dates.

Dates ripen in four stages: unripe, fullsize and crunchy, ripe and soft, ripe and sundried. To me they are very best when they are ripe. soft and juicy.


date tree


Dates  palms take 7 years after planting before they will bear fruit. Mature date palms can produce 80 – 120 kilograms of dates per harvest season.

Ripe dates on the palm tree

In India dates palms are tapped for the sweet sap which is converted to palm sugar (known as jaggery or gur). Special skill is required when tapping the tree so that it does not die.

Dates in Awali

1 Comment »

  1. What an awesome feature on dates. I really enjoyed this. Thank you!
    I think I’ll have some today 🙂

    Kristen Suzanne

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