If you’ve had a little trouble in your romantic life, you might’ve been the recipient of some words of encouragement, like: “Good dates don’t just grow on trees, you know.”
But we’re here to tell you that they absolutely do.
We’re talking about the ultra-tasty fruits, of course, which, technically, grow on date palms – trees that can tower as high as 75 feet. (Talk about tall and strapping!)
As one of the longest-cultivated fruits on the planet, dates are also one of the most interesting, with a history of human consumption that spans back to the mind-boggling 6000 BC. (Date palms themselves, meanwhile, have purportedly been around for 50 million years!)
Experts aren’t quite sure where the longtime staple food got its official start, but most point to the so-called “Fertile Crescent”: a swath of rich land that runs across the Middle East and Northern Africa.
And thanks to that longevity and location, dates are often mentioned in a number of holy scriptures, including the Bible, the Qur’an and ancient Jewish texts.
Symbolically, the fruits – and, especially their palms – often stand in for prosperity in these holy writings, but back in this more earthly realm, there’s still plenty of reason to celebrate the humble date.
Indeed, dates are one of the sweetest fruits around, with a soft, sticky and honey-like bite. And the fruits are also a health food powerhouse, as one of the most nutrient-dense snacks on the planet.
There are so many reasons to enjoy dates, and, thankfully, somehow even more types of dates to enjoy than reasons to enjoy them.
Some of the most popular types of dates include:
Among the holiest of the holy, these dates are only grown in the city of Madinah, in Saudi Arabia, and have a longstanding association with some ancient Islamic ceremonies.
Physically, they have a bit of a resemblance to raisins, with black, wrinkled skin and a mild-sweet taste.
Ajwa may be among the holiest of dates, but the Barhi variety are among the most tender.
This cultivar is noted for its syrupy-sweet, rich and soft flesh, which presents as a pleasant amber or golden brown when fully ripe.
Dayri dates are more on the heavy side, with their weighty flesh filling out the fruit’s more oblong shape.
Still sweet of flavor, these types of dates start out as a resounding ruby red before ripening into a brown and, finally, a dark black color.
One of the most popular types of dates, these are considered the carriers of the “true” date taste – that is, delicately sweet, with not quite as much sweet syrup oozing out from each bite.
With a lovely deep amber skin that’s not too tough or too tender, Deglet Noor dates are also prized for their cooking prowess.
Chewy, sweet, maroon-skinned and on the large side of things, these types of dates really like to stand out from the crowd.
Originally cultivated in Egypt, this varietal has a sweet—and almost raisin-y—taste that sticks on your tongue much like the sweet honey it produces.
Twice the treat: These types of dates are traditionally served alongside Arabic coffee, as a sign of hospitality.
The sweet treats pair perfectly with the heavy brew, thanks to their mild, toffee-like taste and matching caramel skin. Plus, they can be enjoyed at every stage of life, from unripe to full-blown good to go.
Meanwhile, Medjool dates are perhaps the most popular types of dates in the world.
That’s likely thanks to their distinctive sticky-sweet taste, which presents something like creamy caramel. Add in their attractive deep brown color and satisfyingly thick skin, and you get the ultimate date to take home to mom and dad.
Now we’re getting artistic.
These two-toned delights would make even Piet Mondrian smile, with a deep amber covering a majority of their oblong shape, but a light golden band circling across the top.
Even better? Each tone of skin brings its own subtle flavor to the table, with the lighter color carrying a light brown sugar taste, and the deeper brown more reminiscent of caramel.
All dates are on the sweet side, but Sokaris really take the task literally.
The word “sokari” is actually the Arabic word for “sweet.” And these natural treats more than deliver on the promise, with a beautiful caramel flavor and, in some cases, actual sugar crystals forming on the skin, for a crunchier spin on the delicious date classic.
Back on the drier side of things (that is, types of dates that don’t produce as much sweet syrup), there’s the Thoory date, with its not-so-much-sweet-as-nutty flavor pallet.
The interesting spin on the fruit’s flavor, along with its designation as one of the largest varieties of date, makes it a particular favorite for baking.
But regardless of which types of these holy fruits you opt for, eating it will surely be a blessing.