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Medjool Dates (sweetener / binder)

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Just because the dessert recipes on my site  (or any other raw site) are raw, created on the foundation of whole foods, and are healthier than the typical SAD (Standard American Diet) desserts…  they are still desserts and should be consumed with the same sensibilities.  I am not here to debate which sweetener is better than the other or whether or not you should consume them at all.  You know your own health better than anyone else, so you will need to make those determinations for yourself.

To Use or Not to Use…

Sweeteners, in general, tend to generate controversy.  My suggestion, of course, is to use sweeteners in their raw and purest form.  So be sure to read the labels, do your own research, and if you are really concerned, call the manufacturer.

Some raw sweeteners are vegan, and some are not,  you’ll decide if that is a priority for you or not.  All we can ask of ourselves is to make the best possible decisions that we can, with whatever information we have.

Now, let’s talk about Dates!

Dates are a culinary delight and not just in the raw food world. I am quite partial to which ones I use, and for me, it is the Medjool date.  I realize that there are many different varieties, but I find these to be the most readily available. The Medjool date is easily recognizable due to its size, texture, and rich, almost caramel-like taste, with a hint of honey and cinnamon.  Below, I will be sharing what I have learned over the years.  I hope you find it helpful.

The Structure of a Medjool Date

Medjool dates have been called the “king of dates” and the “crown jewel of dates.”  Speaking of crowns… the end of a Medjool date usually adorns a small brown “crown”  or button that needs to be removed before eating.

The crown is just a small piece at the top of the date where it was connected to the stem. Sometimes, they have already been removed, just something to watch for.  The next item up for watch for … is the pit. Nestled within each date, there is an elongated pit, which needs to be removed.  I talk more about this further on.


Medjool date contains 16 vitamins and minerals (including 50% more potassium by weight than bananas), plus they are a good source of dietary fiber. BUT sugar is sugar… They have a high concentration of sugar, about 64 grams in every 1/2 cup serving. Even though they are a whole food and packed with nutrients, treat them like candy, and practice moderation when popping them into your mouth.

How to use

One of the surest ways to enjoy dates is all on their own. They are so moist and sweet. A Medjool date is a large size so it lends well to stuffing once the pit has been removed. Walnuts, almonds, chocolate, and even nut butters… all create a one-of-a-kind taste.

In raw food recipes they play a twofold part, for starters, they add sweetness, and secondly, their sticky, meaty, texture makes them great for binding nuts into bars, cookies, and crusts

Shelf life & storage…

Dates have an exceptionally long shelf life when stored properly. They can be kept in the pantry for up to a month if well sealed but it is my experience and recommendation to store them straight away in the fridge or freezer.  If you have the freezer space… that is my top pick.  They will keep for one whole year in there and freezing them will cause no loss in quality.

The neat thing about Medjool dates is that they don’t freeze solid.  They firm up a tiny bit and only take a few minutes to get back to room temp, but the extreme cold will extend their shelf life greatly.   Whether they go in the fridge or freeze, make sure the container is sealed tight, so they don’t absorb odors or dry out.

Dried out dates…

If your dates experience any hardening or drying, you can restore their moisture by re-hydrating them with a short soak in warm water.  Just add enough to cover and wait about 10-15 minutes.  After soaking, drain the soak water and hand-squeeze out the excess water.  The soak water can be used in smoothies, so you don’t waste any of the goodness.

Dates white dots on them…

Dates will sometimes form sugar crystals under or on top of their skin. It simply means that the dates are maturing. You will want to either consume them soon or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. The crystals will not affect the flavor and can be remedied for the sake of aesthetics by gently heating.  Placing them in the dehydrator set at 115 degrees (F) till warmed will help dissolve the crystallized sugar and restore the deep color.

Weird things lurking within…

If a black powder is detected inside, throw the date away or even return the package to the store if it is in a lot of them! That is a sign of mold.  Mold can get the best of any fresh or dried fruit, so to think that it won’t ever happen is just plain silly.  It is possible to find eggs inside of them too, or maybe a little dried-up bug.  The first time you see this, you will freak out… remain calm, breathe and carry on.

I use to pop dates in my mouth and spit the pits out… no more.  I have been using dates for over seven years now, and I have a routine when I purchase them.    I bring them home and tear every single one in half, inspect and toss the pit, and then into the freezer they go.

When pits really become the PITS!

Outside of inspecting every date you use… I can’t express enough the importance of making sure every pit is removed before adding them to a recipe.  Seriously, please listen.  I have learned from experience, and I want to save you from either chipping a tooth or having to toss out a batter made with expensive ingredients.

If you add dates to a blender and you start to hear what sounds like little pebbles being whipped up into a tornado… throw it away.  You now have tiny bits of seeds in your batter.  Sometimes, but very rare, you can stop it in time, and is possible to remove a few of the broken pieces.  Once you fish out the pieces, try to put the seed back together like a puzzle.  If a piece is still missing and can’t be found… bye-bye batter.

If you add dates to a food processor and you notice a smooth line forming on the inside of the bowl, down near the height of the blade… that means a pit made its way in, and it is jammed in the blade.  If this happens, stop the machine right away and lift out the “S” blade. Sometimes, the pit will still be whole, in that case just remove it and carry on. If it is broken, I recommend tossing the batter.  No sense in risking someone’s dental work.

Do you have a favorite recipe using dates?

No… lol,  I use them a lot in recipes.  But I will highlight a few just to get you started.  First, you can make a wonderful date paste. With just the dates alone.  Coconut Date Butter is great for spreading on raw breads or crackers.   One of my favorites, Date Nibblers, these are perfect to throw into a bag along with nuts and seeds, making a quick trail mix.

Miss pancake syrup?  No need to now with my Date Syrup.  Remember how I mentioned that they are great for stuffing?  Well, here is just one idea… Chocolate Covered Almond Stuffed Dates.  I could go on and on.  For more recipe ideas, type the word “date” in the search box, and you will be flooded with recipes!

Do I recommend a brand?  YES!

My all-time favorite Medjool date, that I have been using solely for years are the ones produced by Naked Dates.  Please check out their site and give them a try… yum

19 thoughts on “Medjool Dates (sweetener / binder)

  1. erlinda meighan says:

    I use Mejool dates all the time! Thanks for the good info. I’m right on track! My favorite and only candy is to slice date open and add almond butter. To Live for! Have a wonderful day!

    • amie-sue says:

      Your welcome Erlinda. I LOVE dates and find that I have to monitor them like those who have to hide from M&M’s hehe. Blessings! amie sue

  2. Julie says:

    Thanks for all this very helpful information. These ar my favourite dates. Love love them but have to really watch my sugar intake.

    Will definitely freeze them!

  3. Kelly Perkins says:

    Do you need to remove the skin on medjool dates before you eat them?

  4. Frank Mickens says:

    YUMMY QUICK SNACKS: Raw dried Medjool dates are great! Raw or dried Medjool dates may be too messy and way too sweet for some people as a quick snack. I often substitute, raw dried Deglet (no seed) dates, raw dried apricots, raw dried papaya, raw dried Mango, dried pineapple, raw dried banana. Remember “raw” means no added sugars or artificial drying processes. In general, if the dried fruit is crisp and snaps when broken, it was probably dried using chemicals. Not the best for your body.

  5. jami lowe says:

    Do you remove the bug if there is one and still use the date? Thanks!

  6. itsme says:

    Medjool dates are so expensive here! We have deglet nour dates but I’m not a fan of them.

    I love dried prunes, do you know any raw recipes with them? I wish I could uuse them istead of dates.

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Itsme,

      I would use dried prunes in place of the dates. It will depend on the recipe and there is a slight difference in flavor. Can you get dried figs? Those would be another great replacement for dates. Dried fruits in general can be substituted but you will have to look at the overall flavor of the dish that you are making. I hope this is helpful. Blessings, amie sue

  7. Lauren Gordon says:

    Hi, if you are very sensitive to mold or have had a candida infection, is it ok to eat medjool dates or not?

  8. Renee says:

    If I buy them pitted, should I still tear every single one of them in half to inspect them, before I freeze them?

    • amie-sue says:

      I always double check them Renee. Chances are that a large machine pitted them, which doesn’t have the eyes to double check for things lurking within. Have a wonderful new week. Blessings, amie sue

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