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medjool dates in Toronto

Has anyone bought medjool dates from Nasr or Arz lately?

I'm curious to hear what the going rate is. I paid $6.99/lb at a non- Middle Eastern shop, and not sure whether the prices are significantly better on Lawrence East.

Also, would the quality at Nasr/Arz/elsewhere be significantly higher than what one finds at a Sun Valley/Whole Foods/Pusateri's? Or is it pretty much the same product?

Thanks for any comments.

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  1. I bought a box of medjool dates grown in California from NoFrills recently.

    Although Californian, they were the real deal -- large and tasty. The price escapes me at the moment, but seeing as it was NoFrills I think they were reasonable.

    1. I get mine at Costco, also Californian. Great price, don't know what it works out to per pound, and very, very fresh.

      2 Replies
      1. re: childofthestorm

        Most of the Medjool dates you find at Costco/Loblaws/No Frills come from a company called Bard Valley in California. Costco sells them for $10.99 2lb box.

        1. re: ComeUndone

          Actually, I think Bard Valley is the growing region, in California.

      2. i just go into a Turkish or Armenian restaurant and buy one of the many boxes they sell. they are tasty and cheap but...i wonder what kind of preservatives are in there.

        1. I bought dates at No Frills a few weeks ago and they were AWESOME. Stuffed them with a mix of mascarpone and goat cheese and wrapped them in proscuitto. AMAZING. those apps flew!

          1. Anyone know where to find the Israeli Hadiklaim ones? King Solomon or Jordan Valley brand. Found some in Montreal recently and couldn't believe how soft and sweet they were.
            Another great appetizer idea, courtesy my Iranian naturopath: fill with tahini! mmmmmm.

            7 Replies
            1. re: bakersdelight

              I know this is an old post, but I've been looking for them in Montreal. Can I ask where you found them?

              1. re: Suissa

                You can try Costco. They often carry medjool dates from Israel. I can't remember the brand they carry but they are definitely from Israel and are the sweetest medjool dates I have ever eaten.

                1. re: ottawaoperadiva

                  They're from California at the moment and not as good as the ones from Iran or Saudi Arabia. I would suggest going to Adonis in Montreal. The have packaged and loose dates of several varieties from the Arabic region.

                  1. re: Nevy

                    My package from Costco says product of Israel - brand name Mehadrin ... unless they have restocked with California dates. I bought mine about a month ago from Richmond Hill store.

                    1. re: mrsleny

                      I haven't seen Mehadrin for a while. We have the brand Natural Delights and it's definitely not the best.

                      1. re: Nevy

                        I'll check the brand of dates on my next visit. The very first time I bought medjools from Costco was last fall and they were the Natural Delights. But that might have been at Vaughan or Markham. I thought they were quite tasty.

                        I really like the Mehadrin. Very sweet and caramel-y. Not sure what the best way to store is. They are in the pantry.

                2. re: Suissa

                  I actually love Natural Delights because they have no added sulphites or sulphur.

              2. The quality of medjool dates depends on the terroir, the stage that they are picked, and growing issues relating to dryness of the fruit.

                The best medjool come from Israel from the Rift Valley area-, the southern Jordan River, around the Dead Sea and further south into the Rift Valley.. There is no place like it for growing dates and drying laundry outdoors. Israel produces 60% of the world wide crop of medjool, apparently. Other commercial production comes from California, Mexico, and apparently to a limited extent Arizona.

                Under- ripe dates miss lusciousness. Overripe, they lack date-iness and become excessively sweet. Overblown like a rose past its prime or like Diana Dors after her cinema career had ended.

                I have seen in Toronto boxes of dates marked as from California and Mexico and also unmarked boxes. Boxes from Israel usually do not give the place of production, I believe in order to enhance marketability in commercially important segments of the community.

                It seems that the standard price for medjool is $6.99 a lb.

                How up market a store is does not predict quality. I would patronize Arab and North African stores. They are particularly interested in stocking good dates and their prices will not be more than anyone else's, but look out for local political correctness dictating the origin.

                Last time in, JohnVince Steeprock had good Israeli medjool at $6.99. But I am careful at JV and sample everything that I buy from bulk to assure relative freshness.

                I find California and particularly Mexican (the few times that I have tried Mexican) medjool to be so disappointing- weak in taste- that I would pass on medjool altogether so as not to be put off medjool and because of the expense if these were the only medjool that I knew. I would eat instead $2 a pound cooking dates . Different , but full flavoured and good. A good burger is better than a bad steak.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                  I may be wrong as to why some medjool date taste as if overblown. Next time I have access to a date grower I will ask.

                2. Just came back from Costco, and they have Medjool Dates that are grown by Palestinian Growers and produced in Israel. $8.99 for a 2lb package. Bought a pack, good sweetness with a fair amount of date flavour.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: asagiri

                    A very good price. Which Costco location?

                  2. California and Arizona dates--even medjools--are perfectly good. Both areas have old commercial date growing areas that produce first-rate products. No reason to avoid them. If anything, they're fresher for shorter shipping distances.

                    1. I have grown fruit as a hobbyist in different countries in widely different climates. (Eg In Toronto I grew Bramley's Seedling apple and Comice pears.) I have never gown dates, although I have wanted to. So hobbyist's zeal launched my inquiry. Here's a distillation of where I have gotten so far.

                      Briefly. There is nothing like a good medjool. But what is a good medjool depends on individual taste. What you get as a medjool depends on cultivation practices and individual growing conditions.(The French charge enough for spoiled grape juice that they get to coin a special word, "terroir.")

                      Quality, which means commercial quality which means price starts off depending on size, the bigger the more expensive. Size depends on culling to reduce the number of dates on the spike. Culling requires labour.
                      It is not known why date skin cracks, but it has something to do with humidity . Low humidty results in less skin. Cracked skin reduces the "farm gate" price dramatically, by as much as 50%.
                      "Terroir" causes great variation in the date fruit even in the Rift Valley in a country as small as Israel. North of the Dead Sea the fruit is softer and darker brown in colour . South of the Dead Sea , it is yellowish and more fibrous. As for taste, considerations are the nature of the soil, the amount of sun, variations in temperature even during the 24 hour day, overall climate, agricultural practices and who knows what else. Ask a oenophile about the mystique of terroir.

                      With all fruit, when it is picked is a big element. Medjool in Israel is generally not left to cure, as occurs elsewhere. When it is ripe, it really is is ripe and it is picked. This is a big difference resulting from terroir.

                      As for taste and cultural conceptions, for eg. Italy has a preference different from the rest of Europe. Italy prefesr yellowish dates, elsewhere in Europe brownish.

                      There is a standard text  on date growing ,  "Date Palm Cultivation" put out by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) of the United Nations. It is available on the Internet.

                      I like the fat luscious medjool with a pronounced date taste. The very biggest are overblown to my taste. The smaller ones don't have enough luciousness and aren't worth the premium price over other dates. I prefer ones with a bit of cracked skin. As for locale of origin, California medjool to my taste is OK, but doesn't compare to medjool from Israel . Israel seems to have the terroir. Mexican medjool is less preferable than Californian. I have never had dates from Arizona. So I may have been spoiled , but for me it is either Israeli medjool or cooking dates. Once in a long while I get lucky and find nice Deglet Noor (last lot , from Tunisia, soft, moist and tasty.)

                      So I prefer medjool with trade names such as Hadiklaim and Jordan valley. The Costco dates are marketed by an Israeli company but they are grown and marketed outside the Israeli co-op of which all Israeli date growers are members and are grown outside Israel proper. They are cheaper because they grade lower; they grade lower because they are smaller . But for me what matters is that they are not as plump. I tried a box anyway. They lack lusciousness- comparatively anyway. In part it is the ratio of flesh to stone, in part texture and from there it goes to taste. So if I had to choose, I would choose cooking dates that are much cheaper for the price. A good burger rather than an indifferent steak. That's just me; your tastes may differ.

                      Here is a promo video on date growing . Hope I gave the url properly.