Dates are plump and lustrous and have a rich, sugary flavor and a slightly chewy texture.
Dates often are classified as dry, semidry, semisoft, and soft. Semidry dates comprise a large percentage of the dates sold in the United States. Semidry varieties include the Deglet Noor and the Zahidi. Another popular date variety is the Medjool, a very large, premium, semisoft date.
You'll find dates available whole (with or without pits) and in chopped form. Dates also come stuffed with almonds or coated with finely chopped nuts or sugar for elegant snacks. In some areas, you may find other date products, such as extruded date pieces and date paste.
Keep dates in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator up to several months or in the freezer up to a year.
Q: Once dates have lost moisture during storage, can they be softened as raisins can be for recipes?
A: Yes, simply heat a cup or so of water or fruit juice to boiling, and pour it over the dates. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes, and your dates will soften nicely. Then drain the dates. Save the flavor-filled plumping liquid to substitute for some of the liquid in your recipe, if desired.