For centuries they have long been a source of sustenance for many people not only in the Middle East, but the world over. In this holy month of Ramadan, many muslims around the world start their day before sunrise with a few date fruits and break their fast at sunset in the same fashion.
I have loved dates since I was a little child living in California where some date varieties are locally grown, however, they fell off my radar during my young adulthood for some unknown reason. Recently, I’ve been longing for breakfast foods and snacks that are slow burning and full of good energy. Something hearty to fill me up and suppress my appetite during those gaps between the big meals.
Ever-so-fashionably, dates started popping up everywhere. And no, definitely not the “I’ll call you for drinks on Thursday night” type of date.
There are literally DOZENS of date varieties around the world all birthed from the date palm tree. My experience in the United States and Canada had provided me with two main varieties of dates readily available in stores; The Deglet Noor and the Medjool.
For me, the former is hit-and-miss and sometimes it has become too tough from the drying process or sometimes it is too soft and bland.
The flavour of the Deglet Noor dates are also not as strong as what I would like and definitely not as sweet and the latter.
The Medjool dates are one of the largest varieties and most desireable on the market and, in my humble foodie opinion, the most flavourful. It has deep caramel notes and high natural sugar content that make you easily forget you’re eating fruit. The Medjool is truly one of Mother Nature’s delicacies.
So what have I done with the Medjool, you ask?
I decided to stuff them with some natural peanut butter for a healthy breakfast and snack. I typically pack between 4 and 5 dates with me on any given day in a container to snack on throughout the date. Depending on my appetite, I sometimes eat all of them in one go as my meal… or, just graze through them throughout the afternoon until it’s time for lunch.
- With a shape knife, split the date in half to reveal the pit.
- Remove the pit (and stem, if present) and discard.
- Stuff dates with peanut butter and lightly press the sides back together.
I will say, I have taken a liking to the Medjool dates available at Whole Foods Markets. I’ve tried to convince myself that Deglet Noor dates are just as good for their availability and affordability, but I’ve received mixed results.
Let’s be honest, I just don’t like them.
I always tell myself (and advise others) that you cannot put a price on food that you know you will not waste. Everything the grocery store has to offer you, by all means if you have an economical way of obtaining this without sacrificing the sanity of your palette, then do it. But really, if you know you’re going to finish every single drop and morsel of an amazing product, then what’s the harm in spending for the more expensive one?
It won’t be wasted, nor will it be a regrettable expediture… (…right.)
Unfortunately for me (and my wallet…) the quality of Medjools from Whole Foods are exceptional and so is the flavour, but… steep is the price. I did some searching and found out that Trader Joe’s carries both Deglet Noor and Medjool dates, but in different sections of the store. I found the Deglet Noor in their snack aisle, but I had to ask a store associate for the Medjools which were located in their cold case with the salads and fresh fruits and at a fraction of the cost!
But were they as good?
Honestly, the difference in minimal. The Trader Joe’s brand is not organic certified, whereas the Whole Foods one is. One is slightly smaller than the other, but the flavours and texture remain about identical to each other. My only complaint is that I had grabbed them from the cold case, they have to remain refrigerated to keep freshness.
At a little under half the cost of the Whole Foods variety…
That’s a cheap date I’d like to go on.