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Oct 16, 2009 01:23 AM

Anyone ever use fresh dates?

I am in Cairo, and fresh dates have suddenly appeared in all the fruit stands over town in three colors -- red, yellow and brown. We bought some red ones last night, and they are hard as rocks. I suppose you leave them out to ripen (?), but once they are soft, are they just for eating out of hand, or has anyone actually cooked with them? We assumed that they would be edible as sold, but one bite told us otherwise! Any info would be appreciated!

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  1. You can make Sticky Toffee Pudding...

    1 Reply
    1. re: film_score

      Actually, no. I make sticky toffee pudding every year for Xmas, and you need to use chopped dried dates for that, but thanks for the thought!

    2. The fresh date (called raTab locally) season is just ending in the Gulf, interesting that it is just beginning in Cairo. You can wash the unripened ones and set them out in the sun to turn into the sweet mush of deliciousness that they are. I love fresh dates. we get them here ripened from the store, also.

      I use fresh dates in a tamarind date chutney recipe. I have never used them in any other cooking though.

      2 Replies
      1. re: luckyfatima

        Thanks. So they should be mushy when they are ready to eat? Can you share the recipe for tamarid date chutney? I think it's a lot hotter in the Gult than in cairo. Everyone from there comes to Egypt in the summer to escape the heat.

        1. re: roxlet

          Yes, they should be mushy. Don't the hard ones taste astringent and not very good? The Gulf is indeed very much hotter than Cairo. For tamarind date chutney:

          You must have mushy ripened dates for this. Dried dates work, too (but use more water in the boil). Remove seeds from 1 cup of dates. Boil 1 cup of dates with 1 cup water and 4 tbs sugar (ideally gur/jaggery) until the dates have broken down and you have a thick mushy liquid.

          In the meanwhile, soak a 1/2 cup portion of dried tamarind in about 3/4 cups hot water for at least 30 mins. Pour through a strainer to remove the membranes and seeds and retain the pulp and liquid. Give this a boil to kill any impurities.You should end up with about 1/2 cup or so tamarind pulpy paste.

          Put your date mush and your boiled tamarind in a blender. Blitz with .5 tsp roasted cumin, .5 tsp roasted red chile powder, and about 1 tsp salt, or to taste.

          Taste it after it cools. Some tamarind is more sour than others, so you may need to adjust if the flavors are off balance for salt, sweetness (add more sugar), or sourness (add in some ground mango powder, a squeeze of lemon juice, or what have you).

      2. I am in California, and there is only one variety here that the farmers tell me to eat when still crispy. For us that's the Bar'hi date. It's pretty hard. Not rock hard, I'd say apple hard, and airy and crispy with a slight astringency followed by honey sweetness. As the bunch ripens, spots of it become mushy and translucent brown like the dried dates most of us are used to, the astringency lessens, and the sweetness intensifies. But Bar'hi dates don't usually become dark brown and dries all over like Medjools or other dates. They go bad before that happens. They are meant to be eaten as a fresh fruit.

        1. I like to eat the unripe ones, personally. I like that they are crunchy and only midly sweet, and I don't mind a bit of biterness. (Also, they don't hurt my teeth like the dried kind does!) The kind I buy is yellow and doesn't seem like it would dry well (they go bad fairly quickly).

          (edit) Just looked it up and they are also barhi dates, and apparently meant to be eaten raw, so I'm doing this right ; ) Thanks Pei!


            I have a serious dried date addiction. Bar'hi dates when I've been able to buy fresh, I've used in fruit salad...but mostly I just slice and enjoy for myself.