Out of the many varieties of dates available worldwide, there are two varieties that which are the most commercially produced within the United States: the Deglet Noor and the Medjool. These two varieties each have individual characteristics and usages.
Although dates are one of the healthiest fruits, few people know about their diverse health benefits or their unique and flavorful varieties. Dates have numerous nutrition merits such as providing antioxidants, sodium, cholesterol and fat free, and being nutrient in dense both fiber and potassium.
Botanically speaking, dates are droops. They contain a stone (or pit) that is surrounded by the flesh of the fruit. The droop category includes peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and other fruit favorites. Droop fruit also have a part known as a calyx, which is the remnant from where the fruit attached to the stem. The calyx is an inedible portion of the fruit, but is frequently found still attached to the produce and looks like a brown woody cap at the top of the fruit. If you happen to stumble on a calyx it is best to remove it before serving the dates.
While there are hundreds of varieties of dates, two make up most of the dates grown in California. These are the Deglet Noor and the Medjool.
The Two Major Date Varieties
The Deglet Noor is a variety smaller in size as compared to a Medjool date. Because these dates can be machine or hand pitted, the Deglet Noor variety is a versatile date used for many functions, chopped, paste, sugar, concentrate. Deglets are distinguishable from other dates by their lighter, golden amber brown coloring.
This variety is great for cooking and can be used in many recipes that are both healthy and delicious. The Deglet Noor date is also commonly used in industrial applications that serve functions such as acting as a sugar substitute.
The Medjool variety is one of the largest dates and comes in a size ranging from large to king. It has a deep brown skin color with a notable sweet caramel flavor. These dates come with the pit because the fruit is too soft to put in a mechanical pitter. However, the pit can be removed without difficulty at home by making a small slice into the date, lengthwise and simply pulling out the pit. Consumers enjoy the Medjool variety for their versatile use as stuffed appetizers.
Medjool dates are also good for cooking but are commonly seen in gifts or with nuts and chocolate.
Nutrition and Serving Size
Despite the differences between Deglet Noor and Medjool dates, their nutrition value is the same regardless of variety or size. Dates will always be a good source of fiber and nutrient dense in Potassium and Manganese. Similarly, all date varieties are fat free, saturated fat free, trans fat free, and cholesterol free making them a delicious and healthy snack.
The recommended serving size for dates ranges from 2-6 dates (40 grams) for a total of a 120-calorie serving. When considering serving size, the difference between the two popular date varieties comes into play. For the medium-sized Deglet Noor dates, one serving is equivalent to 6 dates that are 20 calories each. However, when consuming the large Medjool dates, a serving is 4 dates of 30 calories each.
Whether you choose the impressive size of the Medjool date variety or the convenience of the pitted Deglet Noor dates, you are not only making a delicious choice, but a health-conscious one.
For more information about dates, or some great recipes using the Deglet Noor and Medjool date varieties, check out our brochures.