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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cooking with Dates

Cooking with dates is easy. North African recipes use Deglet Noor dates as an ingredient for breakfast, lunch, dinner or appetizers and dessert. Often cooking with dates in African recipes, Deglet Noor dates are stuffed with sweet or savory fillings or simply enjoyed on its own.


The date fruit is one of the most ancient crops, growing for thousands and thousands of years. 

The date fruit is one of the most ancient crops
Collecting Deglet Noor Dates

Dates are the fruit of the date palm, a tree native to Northern Africa. Botanically the date fruit is a berry. It takes about 200 days from pollination for the date to reach full ripening. One medium size Deglet Noor date has about 44 calories and almost no fat. 

A large portion of the calories in dates food come from sugars. Deglet Noor dates have many nutritional benefits; antioxidants, sodium, cholesterol and fat free, and being nutrient in dense both fiber and potassium.
Hababauk is the term used for the female flower and the period just after pollination when the young fruit is still creamy white before gradually turning green at the kimri stage.

Stages of the ripening of a Deglet Noor date:
·        Kimri- Early ripening of the date remaining green

·        Khalal- The date reaches its full size and changes from green to yellow or red in color depending on the variety of date. Weight gain is slow but sucrose content increases. At this stage, dates are still crunchy, like an apple and considered a delicacy.

·        Rutab- Dates decrease in weight due to moisture loss, a mixture of glucose and fructose, browning of the skin and softening of the fruit. The moisture content goes down to about 35% and the dates at this stage are sold as fresh fruit.

·        Tamr- When the dates are left to ripen further. The most traditional way of producing tamr is sun curing and drying usually on mats. However, in some areas of Africa such as Tunisia, the highly sought after Deglet Noor date is cured on the hanging stems remaining intact with the cluster of dates gives a better result than when the dates are stripped off then cured on mats.

Sweet Date Couscous Dessert Recipe

Sweet Date Couscous Dessert Recipe
Sweet Date Couscous Dessert Recipe
Ingredients
3/4 cup instant couscous
1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon orange flower water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Cook couscous according to package directions toss with remaining ingredients, serve warm as a dessert or add milk for a warm cereal breakfast.

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