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VALENTINE’S DAY: The Best Date

Another healthy Valentine idea: Medjool dates.

Whenever we encounter the Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers at a trade show, it’s our favorite booth. The melt-in-your-mouth, better-than-sugar dates have been called mankind’s first candy—and maybe the best. The Medjool variety has been called “the fruit of kings,” and unlike other “favorites of kings”—horse racing, for example—everyone can enjoy dates, as often as they like.

Dates grow on a specific type of palm tree, Phoenix dactylifera. The date palm was one of the first cultivated trees, domesticated in Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago. Because the trees are so productive (an average date palm produces 100 pounds of fruit a year, some varieties twice that, for 60 years or longer), dates were the cheapest of staple foods. They were dried and eaten as sweets, added to meat and grain dishes and were easily portable, carried by travelers as an energy food.

The best dates we’ve had are from the growers of the Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association of Southern California, the members of which are family-owned date gardens (it’s gardens, not orchards).

 

From top: Date Pistachio Rolls, Date Coconut Rolls, medjool Dates and Date Almond Rolls. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

The date trees in Bard Valley are descendants of tree shoots brought back to the U.S. from Morocco by an agriculturalist in 1927. Descendant trees grown from those original shoots are still thriving 65 years later, each producing an annual yield of over 200 pounds of dates!

The unique microclimate in the Bard Valley (situated between San Diego and Phoenix) is perfect for date growing, with an ever-present sun, intense heat and a high water table. The result is large, moist and delightfully sweet fruit. No pesticides are used in their growing process.

Our favorites are the plain dates, worth every dollar. Date rolls with almonds, coconut or pistachios are also available—also delicious, but the plain dates are pure joy. You can buy them online, finer products than any we’ve been able to purchase in local stores.

Dates are very nutritious and their sugars, fructose and dextrose, are quickly metabolized for energy. Enjoy them:

  • Out-of-hand
  • Stuffed with cream cheese, mascarpone, almonds, pistachios, candied orange and other favorites
  • Chopped and added to yogurt and fruit salad
  • In baked goods
  • In stews, with roasts and other savory dishes
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    Check out these delicious date recipes

      





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