Naturally Dried, Versatile and Long-Lasting
Although you may think of dates as dried fruits, they actually undergo no drying processing whatsoever. While most fruits contain 75 to 95 percent water, fresh dates typically contain less than 30 percent, making them a naturally dried fruit. Storage times vary, depending on what quality you want to maintain for the dates and which stage of harvesting and ripening your dates reached before you bought them.
Quality Versus Safety
Because dates are a naturally dried fruit, they remain safe to eat, like raisins, for up to a year in your cupboard or pantry. And like any food, they remain safe to eat indefinitely in the freezer. But manufacturers and date growers recommend shorter storage times so that the dates retain the little moisture they naturally do contain when they are fresh. You can also refresh dates by plumping them up. Just let them sit in lukewarm water for 30 minutes.
How to Store Dates
The more you can keep air from reaching fresh dates, the less they will dry out and the more moist they will remain. If you keep the dates in their original airtight packaging, place a layer of plastic over the top of the dates before replacing the package lid. Otherwise, transfer to dates to a plastic or glass container, leaving little to no room for air at the top of the jar or box. For the freezer, place the dates in a freezer-grade plastic bag and double-wrap the bag in foil to help ensure that little to no air reaches the fruit.
Storage for Barhi Dates
Grown in Southern California, North Africa and the Middle East, fresh Barhi dates are nothing like the naturally dried dates most American know. They are picked at the khalal stage of ripening and contain far more moisture than typical supermarket dates. Yellow with brownish dots, Barhi dates are firm, moist and crunchy, with a slightly astringent but sweet taste.
Store fresh Barhi dates at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for a few months. Left at room temperature for longer than two days, the dates reach the rutab stage and turn soft in the same way that persimmons do.
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- Visit a farmer's market or a gourmet supermarket to select the freshest dates. Sample the soft, semi-soft and dry varieties to see which type you prefer the most.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.