13 FACTS ABOUT DATES
Recently, I have caught the addiction to dates. No, not dates with boys but dates, the delectable fruit from the date palm tree that is abundant in the Middle East.
1. Dates, together with almonds, both mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, were among the earliest cultivated foods in history.
2. Date Palm culture exists in the United Arab Emirates since several thousand years ago as part of the Gulf ecosystem.
Young date palms in Mamzar Beach Park, Dubai
3. The date palm tree love the heat, even when temperature goes up to more than 120 degrees F. The date palm loves to have its roots in the water and its crown in the sun. It thrives naturally in oases. These are typically dry, warm places of little rainfall but with an adequate underground water supply.
Date palm trees growing towards the sun
4. In Islamic countries, dates is part of the traditional first meal when the sun set during Ramadan because they are easy to digest so they don’t exhaust a fasting person’s stomach.
5. Date palms are dioecious; female flowers produce the fruit and male flowers produce the pollen.
6. Dates are naturally wind pollinated. Natural pollination requires about an equal number of male and female plants. However, with assistance, one male can pollenize up to 50 females.
Date Palm trees lined up in Creekside Park, Dubai
7. In modern commercial horticulture, date plants are pollinated manually. It is done by skilled laborers on ladders, or less often the pollen may be blown onto the female flowers by wind machine.
8. Fresh dates are extremely moist, extremely sweet and satisfying. The best part is that they contain only a few calories, very low in fat and sodium.
9. They are also packed with fiber which helps in digestion and aids in controlling cholesterol.
10. However they are one of nature’s few fruits that does not contain Vitamin C.
11. Fresh dates can be eaten raw and have the consistency of a firm apple with a slightly sweet flavor. If ripe, the water evaporates and sugar remains and becomes more concentrated so the flavor intensifies exponentially.
12. The date palm is important to three of the world’s major religious groups, the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians.
- Jewish tradition – Palm fronds are used to build the “soukkot” or harvest festival shelter. They are also one of the five sacred plants displayed during the harvest festival.
- Christian tradition – Christians worldwide carry palm fronds to commemorate the passage of Jesus through Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
- Islamic tradition – Dates were supposedly Mohammed’s favorite fruit and there are some 26 references to them in the Koran. Muslims also break their Ramadan or New Year’s fast each night by eating a date.
13. Dates are native to the Middle East and Africa but are also grown in California, Southwestern Arizona, an area north of Las Vegas, Nevada and in parts of Mexico.