Selection and Storage
Australians are familiar with dried rather than fresh dates. Fresh and dried dates should be plump and glossy. Dried dates may have wrinkles. When selecting dried dates check for blemishes and mould. Some dried varieties exhibit a dusting of sugar crystals on the surface that can be mistaken for mould. Sugar on or just under the skin does not indicate inferior quality. Keep fresh dates covered in the refrigerator for three or four weeks. Dried dates will last for several months kept in an airtight container either at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Most fresh and dried dates sold in Australia are imported. They are available all year round.
To remove the pits from dates, cut a slit in the side and pry out the seed. Cutting or chopping is easily done with a pair of kitchen shears. Dates can be chopped and are added to cereal, or used in baking. Dates are used in North African cuisines in a savoury context with slow cooked chicken and lamb dishes as well in salads and rice dishes with. Dates go well with bananas, cream, nuts, ginger and cloves.
Dates are a good source of fibre and potassium, they contain a considerable amount of natural sugars.