Medjool Dates The King of Dates
Dates are considered the oldest cultivated fruit. There are Fossils that show date palm trees thriving 50 million years ago. The date palm tree fruit was eaten as far back as 5,000-6,000 B.C., and they have been cultivated for about 6,000 years in the Middle East. http://www.medjool-dates.com/medjool_dates_history.php
The Biblical reference to the tree of life may very well have meant the date palm tree. So the tree life may not be a tree at all, but a date palm. In ancient cultures date palm was called the tree of life and all parts of the date palm tree were used including the trunk, the leaves, and the fruit. In ancient cultures and to a lesser extent today, dates were a staple food. from the trunk to the leaves. Dates are rich in carbohydrates and potassium and can be stored for several years. There are hundreds of varieties of dates. About 12 varieties are grown in the United States. Dates are classified into various categories including soft, semidry or dry. There are soft dates such as the Medjool, Khadrawy, Halawy and Barhi which have a sweet, creamy flesh. Semidry dates such as Deglet Noor and Zahidi have less moisture, sweetness and chewiness. There are more dry dates such as the Thoory, which is called the bread date, and it has a hard, dry skin and very little moisture.
Among the peoples of the middle east dates are still used as a staple food and there are millions of trees in the middle east. It is still a very important food and is widely grown in all the middle eastern countries, especially in the Euphrates Tigris Delta. About 95 percent of dates are grown in California’s Coachella Valley otherwise know as Palm Springs. Dates grow well in this area because of they dry heat.
Dates were first brought to California by the Spanish missionaries and around 1927, the Medjool date arrived. The reason was that disease was destroying Morocco’s Medjool crop and it was an attempt to save the date. Eleven offshoots were brought back to California from Morocco and nine of the eleven survived and have become the source of the millions of Medjool dates grown today throughout California and a parts of Arizona.
The Medjool date is considered the king of dates. The Medjool was once reserved for Moroccan royalty and their guests, they were a precious confection and to some extent remain so. Medjools are more expensive than other varieties because their cultivation is more complex and labor intensive. Date palms pollinate naturally by produce few dates and growers therefore hand-pollinate each tree to ensure adequate yield. Green dates are removed to encourage larger dates to grown and then they are covered to protect them from protect them from birds, insects and occasional rain. Dates are then hand picked one at a time as they ripen.
In California these dates come into season in September and go to about November or December. They are not normally harvested past December, but store well and can be frozen. Medjools can be stored in an air-tight container for about six months in the refrigerator. Prices range from $6 to $10 per pound, depending on their size and quality. Dates are graded according the quality as choice, soft, fancy, large and jumbo. In this case bigger is better.
Medjool dates are used primarily as a gourmet dessert. They are very sweet and are often used in gourmet cooking because of their properties and sweetness. Medjool dates are excellent fruit for athletes because of the very high content of carbohydrates and potassium. It is a runners dream when it comes to carbohydrates. Medjool dates have also been linked with decreased cancer rates. The fiber content for dates is also high and therefore an advantage over other fruits that lack fiber.