Are you feeling lucky today? Because you should. It’s three-for-the-price-of-one day around here. And the price for one is pretty darn close to FREE. Hello! Let’s break out the champagne! What are you getting three of? Dates! Not eharmony.com dates — the price for that process is your sanity and your soul and I’m pretty sure you’ll mostly just get a bad cup of coffee and poor conversation out of it (unless you are one of the lucky 236 getting married today – CONGRATS! More champagne please.)
But back to the dates that matter in this joint: Barhi, Abada and Zahidi to be specific. These are decadent little morsels of candied goodness all packaged up as fruit. Now this is what sinful eating is all about. I stumbled in to the Farmer’s Market the other day with exactly two dollar bills and four quarters in my pocket. You can hardly get a sip of water for that amount in a California farmer’s market these days, but I am what some might call a wee bit obsessed. What if I didn’t stop in today and there was some new fruit to discover that is only ripe and edible TODAY!?! What if I missed it and it turned out I could have purchased a single bite for my three dollars. I’d never forgive myself. So… in I went.
There was a lovely date farmer there and he gave me a very generous amount of dates and an even more delightful wallop of information. A huge thanks and smile to Futterman Farms for knowing a bit about what they are selling. If you run across any one of these date varieties, you should definitely grab a few or thirty.
Dates are in fact one of the healthier fruit out there. Higher than blueberries in antioxidants and higher that bananas in potassium. They are also extremely complicated to understand, like so many other fruit (I dare you to figure out citrus: tangerine vs. mandarin vs. orange. Makes my head explode). Anyway, according to the date expert at the market there are two large categories: soft (like the Barhi and the popular Medjool) which have fructose as their sugar content; and semi-dry (like the Abada and Zahidi), which have sucrose as their sugar content. There are also four stages of eating dates that tend to be referred to by their arabic names: kimri (unripe), khlal (full-size, crunchy), rutab (ripe, soft), tamr (ripe, sun-dried). Most of the dates we see are tamr.
Walnut sized fruit with caramel brown, wrinkly skin that seems separated from the flesh.
Slight molasses fragrance with a hint of vanilla.
Chewy flesh with a dry, papery skin that is distracting in the mouth (I think this might not be the case if they were a little fresher).
The flavor has the opposite balance from how they smell. The vanilla really comes through and the molasses settles in the background. Yum.
OVERALL Overall Rating:
I keep reaching for these over and over and over again. I grab one as I walk in the kitchen, out of the kitchen, up the stairs, on my way out the door. They are ridiculously good. I mean if I were ever to be found to have overdosed on a fruit, I’m pretty sure the scene would include me laying in a pile of Barhi dates drooling and smiling.
Beautiful black wrinkly fruit the length and shape of my pointer finger. Has a long, skinny seed that reminds me of a tongue.
Perfectly dense and chewy with no graininess. Only slightly sticks to my teeth and while the skin separates from the flesh, it is not distracting.
Complicated sweetness with a strong molasses kick.
OVERALL Overall Rating:
I wish raisins tasted like this. I absolutely loved this date but it is so strong and dense in flavor with a proud, sugary presence that I can barely eat an entire date. If they came in the tiny, plump package of a raisin I feel certain I could eat more. These are amazing.
Thumb size nugget with smooth skin fading from gold to bronze.
Soft fragrance that is sweet and nutty.
Pretty firm with a hardy chew.
Subdued caramelized honey.
OVERALL Overall Rating:
This is a really firm and chewy date (think of a cross between a jujube candy and leather). Having minimal experience with dates, I don’t know if that is how it is supposed to be or not. Seems like it has dried out a bit. It has a delightful, honey flavor though that lingers in the back of my throat.
Barhi, Abada and Zahidi
How can I tell if whole zahidi dates have gone bad? I have a sealed plastic container and the ‘sell by date’ was 2 months ago. I can see white granual-looking grains on some, through the plastic, and where they touch the plastic container. otherwise they look normal.
I’d love to dive in to them. I foolishly let them hide out of sight in a cabinet.
Please advise me.
I think they just get more and more dry – not necessarily BAD as in rotten, just not good to eat. But I’m not certain.
Hi Ron, and than you to THE Fruit Mavin for the wonderful kind words about our dates. The white granules are just bits of sugar that have crystallized, just like it does in honey. They are still good to eat, although the texture may not be as nice. You can “melt” the sugar back into the date by getting them really warm, like about 100 degrees or so, much like a lovely summer afternoon here in the desert where they grow. Often just leaving them in a sealed zip lock bag in the sun on the dash of your car with the windows up will do the trick. You will probably like the soft texture when they are warm too.
Futterman Farms – grower of the finest varieties of dates
Always organic since 1977
Great information!!! Thanks so much Arthur. Love that dashboard trick. Warm, soft dates sound delicious right now on this rainy day. mmmm.
Wow, my date dilemma is resolved! I’ve been drying figs on my dashboard too. Yay for cars that smell like sweet heaven!
I like your products, but scarcely seen in Nigeria, especially Akwa Ibom state
How and where can I order Zahidi gates in Toronto…???