Fresh from October to February, dried available all year round

Dates are semi-tropical fruit from a palm tree, usually imported dried from the Middle East and North Africa. Once upon a time they were about as exotic as fruit could get. Fresh dates are moister and taste less rich and sweet. Either kind is good to nibble with cheese, or with coffee. Speaking of nibbling, the plants,or perhaps more accurately, the farmers, have a fearsome natural predator in the form of mice, who will run up 100 ft- (30 m) high palms for a date feast. The hot news in the date world is the toffee date (Medjool or Medjul), a particularly succulent variety carefully dried. It really is toffee sweet so if you are making cakes and biscuits with it you may find you need less sugar.

Unless fresh dates are specified, the recipes use dried dates.

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