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August 27, 2005

Fresh Dates


Ever tasted them?

Ever seen one?

Me neither.

Not until I saw the photo above, which accompanied Nick Fox's informative article which appeared in this past Wednesday's New York Times Dining section, had I any idea what a fresh date looked like.

Fox wrote that the fruit is crunchy and juicy like an apple but sweet as honey and tastes just like a date.


Here's the article.

    An Old Friend Without the Wrinkles

    They have the crunch and juiciness of a Granny Smith apple, but they can be as sweet as honey.

    Hard, yellow and hanging from a withered stem, they don't look like any fruit that most Americans have seen.

    But the taste is familiar, just like a date.

    And that's what they are: dates, fresh off the tree, unlike the brown, soft, dried ones that are widely sold.

    Their two- to three-month season is just beginning.

    Hard yellow dates are loved by millions in the Middle East, But Ben Laflin, 83, said he also enjoyed them as a boy on his family's date farm in the Coachella Valley of California.

    He began developing a market for the yellow dates after he offered some to Tadros Tadros, a friend and an Egyptian date farmer.

    "I said 'It's beautiful,' " Mr. Tadros recalled.

    "He said, 'Are you sure? Because for us, it's considered not ripe.' I said, 'There are a lot of ethnic people who love to have the fruit in that stage.'"

    In the 15 or 20 years since the two men began selling them, fresh dates have remained obscure.

    Only one variety grown commercially in the United States - Barhi - can be eaten fresh.

    Of the 6,000 acres of date trees in the Coachella Valley, the center of the nation's date industry, only 40 are planted with Barhis, said Sam Aslan, an Agriculture Department conservationist in Indio, Calif.

    The two major date varieties, Medjools and Deglet Noors, are full of tannins and must mellow with age before they can be eaten.

    Even in the Barhis, a stem can have both sugary jewels - usually the deepest yellow, with a spot of brown - that will make you smack your lips, and others that will make you pucker up.

    "I spend a lot of time talking to people who've never tried them before," said Robert Lower of Thermal, Calif., who sells fresh dates at farmers' markets.

    "They usually like them, but they're an acquired taste."

    While the astringency can be satisfying to Middle Eastern palates, Rawia Bishara, a native of Nazareth who owns the restaurant Tanoreen in Brooklyn, sweetens fresh dates.

    She pits them, fills them with almonds and steeps them in a rosewater bath. (Most stores that sell the dates will have the ingredients.)

    In the Arabic nomenclature used by date farmers in the United States, these dates are "khalal," the second of four main stages of datehood.

    They come after the green "kimri" stage and just before the soft, gooey "rutab" stage.

    Almost all the dates sold here are in the final stage, called "tamar," when they are firm and dark.

    Over the past few years, more markets have been carrying khalal dates.

    "When we first got them, people would say, 'What are these things?' " said Charlie Sahadi, the owner of Sahadi's, a Middle Eastern market in Brooklyn.

    "Now it's no longer an ethnic item. It's a mainstream item."

    For the next month, they will be available from the Jewel Date Company in Thermal, (760) 399-4474, for $4 per pound plus shipping; and Tadros Tadros, Palm Desert, Calif., (760) 564-3387. Call for price.

August 27, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Yellow dates are in season. We are shipping right now for the 2009 season. You can contact us at [email protected] or (760) 485-9178.

Posted by: Arthur | Aug 26, 2009 3:00:56 PM

Hi, I'm a date grower in Indio CA and just saw this web site. I also grow Barhi dates. Although my season is done for yellow and all I have this late is sticky and dry. Mine are some of the earliest. Robert Lower, mentioned in this article, has the latest an may still have some this late (after the first of October) but not for long.
If anyone would like dried dates this year, or yellow dates in the 2009 season, I would love to hear from you. You can reach me through my email at [email protected].

Posted by: Arthur | Oct 6, 2008 12:51:33 AM


Posted by: KIST | Sep 28, 2008 6:04:25 AM

i live in florida and love to get some fresh dates,how and where i could get them.also how much it cost including shiping. ann.

Posted by: ann daniel | Sep 5, 2008 6:45:40 PM

I tried fresh dates for the first time today, buying just 8 ounces. I bought them at Sam's Market on Front Street in Allentown, PA. Nice taste. Not as sweet as the dried. They were $3.99/pound.

Posted by: Eph | Aug 23, 2008 5:34:33 PM

I do not like them fresh
I do not like them dried
Not in a jar
Not with syrup

I do not like fresh dates
Joe I am

Posted by: Milena | Aug 13, 2008 11:51:16 AM

Fresh Dates aka Yellow Barhis are now available at www.shieldsdategarden.com or by calling 800-414-2555. They have just started harvesting this years crop. We are in Indio Ca in the Coachella Valley.

Posted by: Ann | Aug 13, 2008 8:51:28 AM

What a joy. the fruits have just arrived at the supermarket next to my workplace in Birmingham.
I have never seen them before but thought I should try them as I recently aquired a property in Egypt, where a number of trees are reported to still grow. They are fantastic

Posted by: maggie | Aug 12, 2008 10:22:02 AM

i have a large quanntity of dates farm, some ten vriteis .i would like to sell its in iternational mrket, but dont now the proopar way

Posted by: baloch | Apr 6, 2008 2:39:42 PM

If you live in Houston, you can find them at Jerusalem on Hillcroft (between Richmond and Westpark). Call them, they might ship them, as well. They are absolutely yummy. I used to eat them when I was little. So eating them now reminds me of those days.

Posted by: | Sep 27, 2007 1:56:44 PM

I love these yellow fresh dates and I like to buy a 30 lb. box, please tell me how much it cost me = the shipping. Thank you.

Posted by: Coptic | Aug 27, 2006 1:09:11 PM

I had some a couple of years ago. They were delicious and strangely satisfying. A little go along way for keeping you going. I have been trying to find them ever since at Hallal markets but no luck. Thanks for the phone #s I'll try them this week. Hopefully they still work.

Posted by: Bill | Aug 20, 2006 8:42:17 PM

I would like to buy fresh dates.


661 256 4868

Posted by: jerry sloan | Aug 19, 2006 12:34:29 PM

Thanks for your article. I purchased fresh dates for the first time today. They are hard to find in Montreal, Canada unless you frequent greek or arabic markets. I bought mine at the new Adonis on West Island along with 10-15 other food products that look interesting, however I have to look up what they are on the Web :P

Posted by: Marie-Lynn | Sep 14, 2005 1:28:11 PM

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