The people of the Middle East have consumed dates as a part of their staple diet for centuries, mainly owing to their high nutritional value. The date palm, native to the Middle East, also grows easily in the Mediterranean climate of Southern California.
Apart from being rich in fiber, dates contain Vitamins A, C, K, niacin and folate, and are also an excellent source of calcium, iron and potassium. In fact, in Saudi Arabia, it is said that one date is the minimum foundation of a balanced and healthy diet.
Because dates are very sweet, they can easily be converted into sugar that you can use in other recipes. To make date sugar, arrange sliced dates on a baking sheet and bake at 450° for 10 to 15 minutes, or until very dry and hard as rocks, but not burnt.
You can also dehydrate them for several days to achieve the same effect. Grind or process the dry dates in a food processor until granulated, and use as a 1-for-1 substitution for cane sugar.
Tightly wrapped fresh dates will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. If you have a surplus of fresh dates, freeze them and they will last throughout the winter. You can also dry them in your dehydrator and store them in a cool, dry place for 6 to 12 months.
Autumn Harvest Stuffed Fresh Dates
- Cut each date open midway and remove the pit. Set aside.
- Place the remaining ingredients into a food processor and process approximately 20 seconds to finely mince the nuts, fruit and seeds, and incorporate all ingredients well.
- Open each date wide enough to hold 1/2 tablespoon of the stuffing.
- Store in the fridge for up to a week.