Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

dates are the fruit of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), a tree native to the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East. There are well over a thousand varieties of dates, ranging from dry and fibrous “camel dates” to moist and sweet medjools with their distinctive caramel-molasses flavor. They can be consumed in many stages, including the underripe khalal phase (crunchy and a bit astringent), the fully ripe rutab phase (moist and easy to spoil), and the tamr phase (wrinkled, less moist, and nonperishable) when most of the fruit are sold.