They say that “appearance is not everything” and this also applies to nature and the kitchen. I am referring to the dates, a dry fruit, not very elegant and maybe you ignore it, because it does not look very appetizing and to top it off it is expensive.
Dates are one of the oldest fruits in the world (3,000 BC), it grows in arid climates and there are several theories, some say that it comes from Africa and others say it is from Arabia, because its crops started in Iraq and then spread through the Middle East.
For many, it is a sacred fruit and even aphrodisiac. The Arabs call the date palm, tree of life, in Egypt they have related it to fertility, the Hebrews and Greeks associated it with triumph and the Phoenicians considered it to be the palm tree God, that is, a sacred plant.
For all these cultures, and I would say that the Mediterranean also, dates are part of their diet. On my recent trip to Israel, I could see thousands of these palms bordering the Black Sea and all the markets were full of different varieties.
When I lived in Spain I visited the area of Alicante, which is also full of them and even in Morocco you find dates in each of its markets.
Date palms were exported to America by the Spaniards and it is said that they planted dates to mark the lands they conquered. In California and México they are cultivated, but not much.
What makes them so expensive? They are very difficult to grow. There are many varieties, but all have a common denominator, they grow in arid areas, but they need water and constant human labor.
The pollination of the date palm is achieved by wind or by artificial pollination. In other words, clusters of male flowers are tied in the female inflorescences.
The propagation is also complicated, it can be done by seed or by patches, as happens with the agave plant from which the Tequila is made. But it is not until this palm is adult, that over the years, the farmer can confirm whether it is male or female.
In other words, it can take years, until it is confirmed if the palm will be able to give dates.
If this is not enough to justify its high price, know that the dates are a good source of energy, free of cholesterol and are full of vitamins and minerals:
Dates produce an effect of satiety in the body, reducing the anxiety of hunger and therefore, it helps you lose weight.
- Decrease bad cholesterol in the body.
- Combat constipation, hemorrhoids and bacteria that affect the digestive system.
- They help as an anti-inflammatory and reduce the tendency to develop cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s and arthritis.
- Improve the health of the heart, regulate blood pressure and reduce fatigue and slowness.
- Help fight insomnia.
- Replenish your energy immediately during the exercise or in the practice of a sport.
- Improve your skin, hair and even your teeth. In the past, they even used them as a natural medicine against fever and cough.
They are easy to eat. Take them as a snack or get creative with them in the kitchen. Store them in a closed jar or re-sealable bag at room temperature.
If you keep dates in the fridge they will be juicier and more delicious and they will be able to last longer. Always buy them in their fresh state and should not be packed. If so, make sure they do not have any added ingredients.
Doreen Colondres is a celebrity chef. Author of the book The Kitchen Doesn’t Bite. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @DoreenColondres and visit www.LaCocinaNoMuerde.com , www.TheKitchenDoesntBite.com or buy her book on Amazon or iTunes.