Wondering how to cook with dates? This sticky-sweet fruit is used in all sorts of cuisines, from Middle Eastern dishes to North African sweets.
While you can eat them fresh, dates are most often found in dried form.
They’re often used as a natural sweetener in desserts like cakes, cookies, and energy bars.
Dates can also be added to savory dishes like stews and curries for a touch of sweetness.
When adding dates to savory dishes, it’s best to pair them with other intense flavors like garlic or ginger, so they don’t overwhelm the dish.
However, if you use them, make sure to remove the pit before cooking with dates.
If you don’t have any dates on hand or can’t find them at your local grocery store, don’t worry.
There are plenty of substitutes that will work just as well in your recipes.
Prunes, dried raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, and jujube can all be used in place of dates.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these substitutes.
What is Date?
Date fruits (dates) are the edible fruit of the date palm, which grows in hot, arid climates such as deserts.
The scientific name for the date palm is Phoenix dactylifera, and it is believed to have originated in Egypt or Mesopotamia.
Dates have been a staple food in the Middle East and North Africa for centuries, and they are now grown in many other parts of the world as well.
Date fruits are oblong or oval-shaped, and they range in color from yellow to red to black.
They have a thick, chewy flesh that surrounds a large stone, and they often have a sweet, caramel-like flavor.
Date fruits can be eaten fresh or dried, and they are often used in baked goods, jams, and sweets.
There are many different varieties of dates, and they vary in size, color, and sweetness.
The most common varieties of dates are Medjool dates, Deglet Noor dates, and Zahidi dates.
Medjool dates are large and plump with a sweet flavor, while Deglet Noor dates are more petite and less sweet.
Zahidi dates are small and firm with a nutty flavor.
Dates can also be found in many different forms, such as whole dates, date sugar, date molasses, date syrup, and date honey.
When choosing dates, look for plump fruits that are free from blemishes.
It’s best to store fresh dates in a cool, dry place and enjoy them within a few weeks for the best quality.
Compared to fresh dates, dried dates have a longer shelf life and can be stored for up to a year.
Date sugar, date molasses, and date honey can also be stored for long periods of time.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Dates
If you’re looking for a delicious and healthy alternative to dates, look no further than these five substitutes.
1 – Prunes
If you’re like most people, you probably think of prunes as being nothing more than dried-up plums.
However, these little fruits pack a big punch when it comes to flavor and nutrition.
Prunes have a sweet and slightly tart taste that is perfect for baked goods and other snacks.
In addition to being a healthy snack option, prunes can also be used in savory dishes to add depth of flavor.
If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to dates, prunes are a great option.
Not only do they have a similar sweetness, but they are also high in fiber and antioxidants.
When it comes to making healthy substitutions in your diet, prunes are a fruit that should definitely be on your radar.
2 – Dried Raisins
Dried raisins are a type of dried fruit that is made by removing the water content from grapes.
They can be enjoyed on their own as a tasty and healthy snack or used as an ingredient in baked goods and other recipes.
One of the benefits of dried raisins is that they can be an excellent substitution for dates.
Dates can be pretty sweet, while raisins have a more mellow flavor.
And since dates can be pretty sticky, substituting dried raisins can also help to cut down on the mess.
So if you’re looking for a healthier alternative to dates, dried raisins are definitely worth considering.
3 – Dried Cranberries
Dried cranberries are chewy, tart, and subtly sweet.
They make a great addition to both sweet and savory dishes, and their bright flavor can help to liven up any meal.
Dried cranberries can be used in anything from salads to baked goods, and they make a great healthy snack on their own.
When substituting dried cranberries for dates, keep in mind that the cranberries will be much tarter.
As a result, you may want to use a little less sugar in your recipe.
You may also want to chop the cranberries up into smaller pieces to help them better blend into the dish.
Overall, dried cranberries are a versatile and delicious ingredient that can add a little something extra to any meal.
4 – Dried Cherries
Dried cherries are a type of fruit that’s been preserved by removing their water content.
This gives them a chewy texture and a sweet, intense flavor that’s often used in baking or as a topping for oatmeal and other breakfast foods.
While they’re available year-round, dried cherries are typically harvested in the summertime.
Because of their high sugar content, dried cherries can help to add sweetness and depth of flavor to recipes.
They can also be a healthy and delicious snack on their own.
One of the benefits of dried cherries is that they’re a good source of fiber and antioxidants.
If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to dates or other dried fruits, dried cherries may be a good option for you.
Though they’re not as widely available as other types of dried fruit, you can usually find them in well-stocked grocery stores or online.
5 – Jujube
Jujube, or Chinese date, is a fruit that has been cultivated in China for over 4,000 years.
In addition to being a popular snack food, jujube is also used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The fruit has a unique taste that is somewhat sweet and floral with a hint of bitterness.
Jujube can be eaten fresh, dried, or candied. It can also be used to make tea, syrup, and wine.
In Chinese medicine, jujube is used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
It is also said to boost the immune system and improve circulation.
Because of its many health benefits, jujube is an excellent alternative to dates.
However, it is essential to note that jujube should not be consumed in large quantities as it can cause stomach upset.
In conclusion, dates are an excellent option for a healthy snack or an ingredient in recipes.
However, there are a few other fruits that can be used as substitutes for dates.
These include prunes, raisins, cranberries, cherries, and jujube.
Each of these fruits has its own unique flavor and health benefits.
When substituting one of these fruits for dates, it is essential to keep in mind the different flavors and textures that they will add to a dish.
Overall, all of these fruits make great alternatives to dates and can help to add a little something extra to any meal.