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Honey dates range in color from light caramel to a deep brown and are usually plumper than most other varieties. These fruits are soft bodied with a texture like that of creamy butter. With a mild date taste they are known for their eponymous honey-like quality. Their flavor profile ranges from pleasantly bitter and rich molasses to light and sweet wildflower honey.
Fresh Honey dates are available in the late summer months throughout the winter.
The Honey date is a curious variety of the Phoenix dactylifera species that ranges widely in flavor and appearance due to its unconventional beginnings. Date palms are usually cultivated through planting offshoots from the parent tree to ensure an identical replication of fruit generation after generation. Rather, the Honey date is a catchall term for any wayward date seed that finds its way to the soil and matures into its own one-of-a-kind date palm. Though all a bit different from each other, Honey dates are always categorized as a soft variety with honeyed sweet tones.
Honey dates are an excellent source of dietary fiber, folic acid, iron, potassium, protein and B-vitamins.
When chilled, the firm Honey dates make a healthy snacking alternative that eats just like caramel candies. At room temperature their soft texture and high moisture content makes them excellent for silky purees. Blend the pitted Honey dates until smooth and use as a natural sweetener in cookies, cake batter, ice cream bases or oatmeal. They do not hold their shape well when diced and used in baked goods, but melt beautifully into a caramel sauce for topping pot de crème or brownies. Complimentary flavors include chocolate, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cream, butter, coconut, orange, ginger, dark rum, brandy, nuts, fresh cheeses, poultry, pork and bacon.
Date palms are native to present day Iraq and were first introduced to California’s Coachella Valley in the early 1900’s. Traditionally, dates have a rich religious past. They were the first food Muhammad ate when he broke from his fast during Ramadan. Today they still remain a central part of the Islamic holiday.
Recipes that include Honey Dates. One is easiest, three is harder.