December 26, 2019 4:47 pm Leave your thoughts
Dates start to make an appearance in shopping baskets and kitchen cupboards at this time of year: often beautifully wrapped and wonderfully enticing! For many of our customers, of course, dates are by no means just for Christmas. They’re one of our biggest sellers throughout the year at Naturally Good Food, and we have years of expertise in selecting the perfect ones, for flavour, texture and nutrition. We’ve tried a fair few dates ourselves along the way and can highly recommend all of those we sell.
What’s a date?
Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which grows in tropical regions around the world. Our dates come from a range of growers, with those from Tunisia particularly well-represented.
You’ll be lucky to find a fresh date in this country – but we’ve long accustomed ourselves to them in their dried form, where their wonderfully sweet, caramelly-toffee-like taste makes them a favourite snack and cooking ingredient.
Why eat dates?
The really good thing about dates is that they’re pretty much as good for you as they taste! They’re a great source of fibre (if you’re a little bunged up over the festive period, give one a try…), packed with antioxidants and naturally rich in potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, iron and vitamin B-6.
Not many of us eat dates specifically for their health properties, but next time you nibble on one, rest assured that you’re helping out your body with a good dose of the following:
Antioxidants: antioxidants prevent or slow the oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the body. Without antioxidants, DNA is altered, leading to the development of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and heart disease.
Potassium: potassium works with sodium to maintain normal blood pressure and the correct balance of fluids in the body.
Magnesium: magnesium regulates our muscle and nerve function, keeps blood sugar levels and blood pressure stable, assists in the manufacture of proteins, bones and DNA, and is particularly good for memory function.
Copper: copper works with iron to form red blood cells in the body (it helps us absorb iron too). It plays an important role in maintaining strong bones, blood vessels and nerves and keeps our immune systems working well.
Manganese: manganese helps our bodies form connective tissue and bones. It assists in the development of blood clotting and the production of sex hormones. It also plays a role in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates from food and in the absorption of calcium, as well as regulating blood sugar levels. In addition, it’s essential for the normal functioning of our brains and nerves.
Vitamin B6: also known as pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 allows our bodies to use and store the energy obtained from protein and carbohydrates in food. It also helps us form haemoglobin and regulates hormones, particularly in women.
There – they taste even better now, don’t they?
What kind of dates do we sell at NGF?
Our standard date is the organic Tunisian Deglet Noor (‘date of light’) variety – a real go-to date for all occasions, it’s sweet-tasting and neither too moist nor dry.
Our Aseel dates from Pakistan are thinner-skinned and slightly sweeter, making them a really useful date for cooking with.
Right at the top end of the date scale, and with an astonishing sweetness and richness (and, according to some, a slight buttery-ness), we have our Medjool dates, from the Middle East. Stored cold and with the stones still in, these really are the ultimate in date luxury!
Our chopped dates (both organic and non-organic) are destined, in general, for cooking and baking purposes. Dates are remarkably difficult to chop up yourself at home – your knife will stick after the first cut. The chopped dates we sell are dusted with rice flour to enable chopping to take place and to keep the pieces separate. If you need dates for a cake, loaf, flapjack or any other kind of baking, these are the ones to choose. Don’t be put off by their ‘dusty’ appearance: their flavour is unimpaired.
We also sell date syrup, which makes a lovely alternative to sugar for use as a sweetener.
What can you do with dates?
With whole organic dates, you almost can’t do better than simply eat them by themselves. They’re squidgy, fragrant and better than a sweet made of refined sugar any day. However, you can, of course, also use our dates in a range of recipes, covering both sweet and savoury bases.
Why not try out one of these?
Date crunchies: perfect for wintry snacks!
Devils on horseback: pigs in blankets for the aristocracy.
See all our dates here.
Tags: Aseel dates, chopped dates, date recipes, date syrup, dates, Deglet Noor dates, Medjool dates, Medjoul dates, organic chopped dates, organic date syrup, organic dates
This post was written by Yzanne