Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

A Good Date

Blue Cheese and Pecan Stuffed DatesWhen it comes to a good date, I look no further than my very own pantry. I’m talking about the short, dark, handsome…well…let’s just say “sweet” kind where one is never truly enough! Take for instance these Blue Cheese and Pecan-Stuffed Dates. Could you eat just one? Not likely.

They’ve been a staple food of the Indus Valley, Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Middle East for so many thousands of years (around 6,000) that nobody can say with certainty where they originated, but it’s likely around Iraq. Dishes like Lamb Tagine with Dates and Date and Olive Oil Wine Crackers are reminiscent of the creative ways dates have been used through the centuries. 

Dates are the fruit of the female date palm tree, a “dioecious” plant, which means it can be either female or male. There are a number of varieties and colors of dates, ranging from bright red to brown and even bright yellow, but most of us are familiar with a couple of the brown varieties: the Deglet Noor and the Medjool.

Dates can be enjoyed on their own or as part of a meal. They add natural sweetness and good nutrition to breakfast, salads and main dishes, and of course to snacks, sweets and desserts.  They are fabulous pitted and stuffed with all kinds of goodies — look for pitted ones to make it easy.

If you’ve not tried dates in savory recipes, you’ll be surprised and delighted with these:

Raw Berry CrispRemember, dates do the sweetening for you in many favorite desserts. Here’s a slew with no added sugar!

And for breakfast, try these date-filled starters:

Raw Banana Ice CreamHere are a few more ideas:

  • Chop dates and add to salads – grains and leafy greens.
  • Make Raw Banana Ice Cream – I love this frozen treat!
  • Mash dates into baked sweet potatoes. Try a little coconut sprinkled over the top.
  • Use chopped dates along with or in place of raisins. They can be used as a substitute for raisins and other dried fruits in many recipes.

Can you remember some of your most memorable dates? Got an idea or a recipe? I’d love to know.

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Anele says …

Hmm, they look delicious! We often wrap some dried dates with bacon (maybe add some goat cheese between) and then fry them (w/o oil) or put them in the oven at middle heat. They turn out so crisp and delicious ... ah, and that smell. Just the thought of these makes me hungry...

exjudge says …

Are medjool dates back in stores? I sure hope so!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@EXJUDGE - We did not have a company wide shortage but we did hear of some shortages from a particular region. They have everything back in stock now. Double check with your store to find out for sure!

Cindy says …

Yum! I love dates and can't wait to try a few recipes for the holiday season!

Stephanie says …

This email made me sooooo happy!!! Love, love, love dates! Thank you WF!

sandra randell says …

Once opened, do dates need to be refrigerated. The packages usually say to put in the refrig, but they never taste the same - they get too hard and never seem to get soft even after leaving out for a while. Any ideas?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SANDRA - Personally I do not put my dates in the fridge. It will dry them out more than they are. If you do put them in the fridge, definitely keep them in an air-tight container.

Jen says …

Are the dates sold in the bulk bins at Whole Foods pitted?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JEN - This will differ between stores and typically most stores will offer both options. Check with your local store directly to see what they have in stock.