Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Dates are the sweet, easily dried fruits of a desert palm, Phoenix dactylifera, that can tolerate some cold and thrives as long as it has a source of water. Their original home was Middle Eastern and African oases, where they were being cultivated with artificial irrigation and pollination more than 5,000 years ago; they’re now also grown in Asia and California. Though we usually see only two or three dried versions, there are thousands of different date varieties that differ in size, shape, color, flavor, and ripening schedule.