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Asian supermarket mystery purchase: honey dates

I am just incapable of not buying something at an Asian supermarket - or any supermarket, for that matter - that I've never seen before, as long as it looks fairly innocuous. So there were these mesh bags full of what was labelled as "honey dates" and they weren't expensive. They looked like they could be some kind of plum or lychee type thing. Must be delicious!


Not at all. White dry flesh inside. Virtually tasteless. Like styrofoam. Maybe they're supposed to be cooked or something. Or maybe these were a bad batch. Whatever. They're not good. Anyone know anything about these things"?

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  1. I am guessing that they are either totally out of season or in season and not yet ripened. If you wait a few days, set them in the sun inside a brown paper bag, they should turn from hard, fibrous astringent tasting unripened dates to ripened fresh dates. The color will darken and flesh will soften into sweet brown mush around the pit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: luckyfatima

      wow, i never realized that's how dates ripened!

      1. Were they red on the outside?

        If so, they're supposed to be boiled in water to be "reconstituted" a bit. Most commonly put into sweet congees, sweet barley concoctions, sweet soups and the like. Not meant to be eaten out of the bag.

        2 Replies
        1. re: yfunk3

          They're sort of browny-yellow and not a dried fruit, if that's what you're asking. I took a couple and put them into a warm oven (my wood stove was on overnight) and they wrinkled up and the flesh inside softened and became sweet. I'm doing a whole panful right now. I suspect luckyfatima might be right. They're still kind of a stupid fruit, though.

          1. re: Nyleve

            Ah, okay. I did a little googling on them and they do seem like similar dried fruits that are also used in various Chinese sweet concoctions and remedies and such, but all Asians are pretty big on the "dried fruit snack" thing, too. Often, the fruits are dried in a way to make them not too sweet, as I always find Asian sweet snacks tend not to be so much (except for Japanese snacks!).

            It could definitely be that they were old, too. Asian supermarkets aren't really famous for the freshest non-produce/meat stock!

        2. Update. Tried everything, including baking them and allowing them to dry for several days in a warm place. Still yucky inedible.

          Hint, however. DO NOT google "Asian dates" to find out what these things are. Even worse: Asian honey dates.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Nyleve

            Get your drift. Had a similar problem with Eat Your Books when I thought it was "My" and not "Your"...

            1. re: Nyleve

              Did you try putting them in a sweet congee? I'm not a huge fan of sweet congee myself, but they might've just been meant for boiling.

              1. re: yfunk3

                I didn't cook them. I have a wood stove in the kitchen so put a few in the oven to bake and a few in the warming oven to dry. Neither produced edible results. Congee may have been an answer but I didn't do that. People ahead of me in the cashier line were buying them so I did also - I think I was punked.

                Not to worry - the chickens have them now and they don't like them either.

            2. PorkButt's right. (heheheh)

              They are jujubes and their season last about a month. The farmer's market is the best place to get them and they are sweet! They are a drier type of fruit, but I love 'em. Maybe because I grew up with them. My mom would dry them and add them on top if sticky rice.

              1. I really like these things too, also pronounced "hong-zhao" in mandarin. when fresh, they are dry, faintly sweet, and addictive, mainly because there is so little pronounced flavor but a nice texture. to confirm: there is a tiny pit, right?

                3 Replies
                1. re: bigjeff

                  There is a tiny pit. I suspect that the ones I got must have been poor quality because the texture was dry - really like styrofoam - and there was quite literally no flavour at all. Will maybe give it another shot another time but, meh.

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    I just bought a bunch of these at the farmers' market, after being intrigued by the large mounds of brown-yellow mottled balls the size of ping pong balls being sold by many of the asian vendors.

                    I think they're delcious, although the texture is exactly like styrofoam or a sponge. The flavor is mild, but to me tastes a little like tart granny smith apple with a little lychee flavor and an almost floral aftertaste. If it's the texture that's throwing you off, maybe they aren't for you, since it seems like the "good" ones (ie the twenty or so I sampled from different vendors) are all foamy and dry. While the flavor was rather mild, I definitely wouldn't call them "tasteless, so maybe yours weren't a good batch. If you're interested in trying them again, maybe you could seek them out at a farmers' market where you could sample them first.

                    1. re: Hunicsz

                      Well thanks for letting me know. I think I'm just going to pass on these things. There are so many wonderful things to eat in the world that I don't feel compelled to learn to love them.