Where Do Dates Come From?

So you might have enjoyed our date spread or had a handful of dates as a snack, but have you ever wondered where your dates actually come from? Dates go way back in history and have been harvested and enjoyed in several dishes for years, all over the world. We are going to share with you how your favorite sweet fruit is produced and where exactly they come from!  


How are they grown?

Dates come from what is known as a date palm tree. Scientifically the tree is known as, phoenix dactylifera. These tall palm trees grow to be approximately 75 feet tall, which can make harvesting their sweet dates a challenge. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the leaves of these giant palms measure in at about 16 feet per leaf. Within about 5 years of being planted the date pam tree will slowly start producing dates that can be harvested. At around 15 years dates are producing the prime amount of dates and will continue to do this until their fruit production starts slowing down. When growing naturally, a date palm tree will live and produce dates for approximately 150 years; that is a lot of dates! Not only do date palm trees provide us with delicious dates, but they can be used for much more one their production shows and they are cut down. The trunks of the tall palm can be used for lumber, and the leaves can be used for weaving baskets or making rope. None of this tree goes to waste when it is done producing fruit because it has economic value throughout its entire life. 


Where are they grown?

Date palms produce their fruits in warm climates, making the Middle East the ideal location for them to thrive and be harvested. The highest production of dates comes from the Middle East, but they can also be grown in the warm regions of the United States and Mexico. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, dates might have originated from Iraq and that is still where they are largely produced. Some of the world’s other top producers of dates are Iran, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. When dates are produced in America they are grown in California because of the high temperate and similar growing conditions to the Middle East. Small date farms can also be found in Florida and Texas, however, most dates are imported from the Middle East to North America and Europe.    


Harvesting the Fruit     

Collecting dates truly is a labor of love. Although they are super tasty, these dates are not so easy to harvest before they make it to your table or local produce store. Since the date palm is usually towering at 75 feet tall is takes heavy machinery to collect the fruit, or they need to be handpicked. Under the leaves of the palm is where harvests will find bunches of dates. One bunch can contain upwards of 1,000 dates, which weighs in at more than 18 pounds of dates. Since dates are found in some of the hottest climates in the world, it makes harvesting them more challenging due to the high temperatures. Since so many dates can grow from one tree, the dates often have to be thinned out before they are ready to be harvested. Thinning the tree means that the harvesters remove some dates from the bunches before they are ripe. This allows for the remaining dates to have more growing room, making them larger and ideal for harvesting. Once the dates are picked and brought down from the tree they are sorted to ensure they are ripe and in good condition. Check out this video if you are interested in getting a more behind-the-scenes look at how dates are harvested by hand! 


The dates are harvested, now what? 

Well, now you get to enjoy them! Once dates have been harvested there are a number of ways to enjoy them and all their health benefits. First, you could eat them fresh. They can be a bit harder to find, but if you stumble across fresh dates at a produce marker or elsewhere, give them a try. Dates are naturally very sweet, and some people say they are the sweetest fruit when eaten fresh. More commonly dates are sold as a dried fruit. All of the health benefits and sweetness are still there if they are dried, so don’t worry about that. When dates are dried you can eat them on their own or incorporate them into your favorite salads or desserts for an added natural sweetener. Of course, we are not going to forget to mention our favorite way to eat dates, our date spread! Dafero’s date spread is only 3 ingredients and a super delicious way to enjoy dates. Our date spread is vegan, gluten-free, and has no sugar added. You can add our date spread to smoothies, as a substitute for eggs in cake recipes, or even bake it into cinnamon rolls! With dates, there are so many possibilities for sweet recipes and even savory ones too. Now that you know exactly how and where dates are produced you can enjoy them even more! 


References

Date Palm. (2019, August 2). Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved June 25, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/plant/date-palm


Thomson, J. (2015, March 12.) So how exactly do dates grow, anyway. HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-dates-grow_n_6840464 

Pictures:

600 × 400 - Date palm tree

1024 × 576 - dates on tree

350 × 233 - fresh dates 

5616 × 3744 - dried dates