Types of Dates: Delicious Varieties of Date Fruit From Around the World

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All types of dates are soft, sweet, nutritious, and very delicious fruits. Most varieties of dates grow in countries in the Middle East and North Africa. There, the hot climate is the perfect environment for date palms to produce these tasty oval-shaped fruits.

Every type of date has its own characteristic – some are soft with a light-brown color and are extremely sweet. Other kinds of fresh dates have a sticky texture and nutty taste with flesh that is amber to dark brown. Dried dates are also popular as they contain all of the nutritional goodness as fresh dates but have a longer shelf life.

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Different types of dates can be between 1.2” and 1.8” (3 – 7 cm) in length. The sweetness from these tasty fruits is due to the fact they contain up to 75% sugar when they are dried.

Dates are the fruits of the date palm which is scientifically named Phonenix dactylifera. There are thousands of different date varieties, with Medjool date the most popular date variety.

The date palm (Phonenix dactylifera) is one of the species in the Phonenix genus which contains more than 12 species of wild palms.

The word “date” literally means “finger” in Greek and refers to the oblong shape of the fruit.

In this article, you will learn about the various types of dates that you can buy. You will find out that there are more date varieties than the couple of types you find in the store.

Fresh Dates vs. Dried Dates – What’s The Difference Between These Types of Dates?

Varieties of fresh dates are sold as soft, semi-dry, or dry. This causes a confusion because many people think that a dry fresh date is the same thing as a dried date; however they are not the same.

As dates ripen on the date palm, they lose up to 80% of their moisture. So, a dry variety of fresh date is usually one that has ripened on the date palm for the longest time.

It means that dry fresh dates contain less moisture than the soft or semi-dry fresh dates, but they are not fully dried. Some types of dry dates have been further dehydrated to lower their moisture content as much as possible. Therefore dried dates will have a longer shelf life than fresh dates.

Fresh and dry dates are high in fiber and contain a lot of nutrients and antioxidants.

Types of Dates

Let’s look in more detail at the most popular and most delicious types of dates you can buy.

Medjool Dates

medjool dates

The Medjool date is one of the largest types of dates

Medjool dates are one of the most popular date varieties due to their sweet caramel-like taste and soft skin.

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This type of date is one of the largest types of date fruit. The ripened wrinkly skin is a light reddish-brown color and slightly sticky to touch. The soft texture of these juicy dates and their rich flavor makes Medjool dates delicious to eat fresh.

The majority of Medjool date palms (also called Medjoul or Majhool) grow in Israel. However, they also grow in California, South Africa, and the Middle East.

Deglet Nour Dates

deglet nour

Deglet nour dates are a medium to large type of date that is very popular

The Deglet Nour (or, Deglet Noor) variety of dates is so sweet and succulent that many people call them “the queen of all dates.”

This variety of date is a semi-dry type and, because of that, has slightly flaky skin. As Deglet Nour dates ripen on the palm, they turn from a light amber color to dark brown. Because of their good texture, Deglet Nour dates are some of the best dates to use in cooking.

One of the best things about this variety of date is their sweet honey-like taste. Many people refer to the taste of Deglet Nour dates as having a “true date” flavor.

Because they don’t spoil easily and they are a medium to large type of date, they are one of the most widely distributed types of date in the world.

Sukkari Dates

sukkari dates

Sukkari dates are one of the softest types of sweet dates that you can buy. These dates are so easy to eat that they almost melt in your mouth. Because this date variety is of such high quality, Sukkari dates are also called “Royal dates.”

This fresh type of soft date has light golden skin and is deliciously sweet. The reason for their softness is due to the fact they are harvested before they are ripe.

Their high moisture content means that, unlike dried dates, you don’t have to soak them before eating them. Like most fresh dates, this variety is a tasty sweet treat that will help curb sugar cravings.

Mazafati Dates

Native to Iran, Mazafati dates are a medium-sized soft date that has dark flesh and is delicious to eat fresh.

A medium-sized date such as the Mazafati variety measures between 1” to 2” (2.5 – 4.5 cm). Due to its high moisture content, this type of date is not good for drying. When fully ripened, the skin is dark purple and almost black.

Many people consider Mazafati dates as some of the best dates for snacking on. Their sweet caramel taste and juicy flesh mean that they are the perfect sweet treat.

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Just as with other types of dates, Mazafati dates are an excellent source of fiber, nutrients, and sweet goodness.

Barhi Dates

barhi dates

The barhi date is a unique type of date that can be eaten unripe or fully ripened

This variety of date, the Barhi date, is a small date that has distinct yellow skin and sweet taste.

Unlike most other dates, Barhi dates are sold as an unripe type of date and have a crunchy texture. The thin yellow skin covers flesh that is sweet like butterscotch but has some astringency.

As the small dates ripen off the tree, they gradually become a darker color of brown. During this time, their sweetness intensifies and they lose some of their astringent taste. Also, the texture of the flesh takes on a chewy softness that is characteristic of most dates.

This is one of the most unique types of dates as it is edible unripe as well as fully ripened. This type of date is best eaten fresh and it spoils very quickly.

Khola Dates

Khola dates are a type of date that have golden brown smooth skin and a sweet, but not too sweet, taste like caramel.

What makes Khola dates different to other popular varieties of date? The light-amber skin of these dates is quite loose. Also, they are a fairly sticky type of date.

The most popular way to eat these soft dates is together with Arabic coffee.

Thoory Dates

Thoory Dates

Thoory date is a type of dry fresh date with firm texture

Thoory dates are one of the varieties of delicious dry fresh dates on this list. They tend to have a firm texture and with a sweet nutty flavor.

Unlike certain types of soft, moist dates, Thoory dates have a fairly dry skin. This means that Thoory dates are one of the best dates for snacking on. Not only do you get parcels of delicious sweetness, but your fingers also won’t get sticky as you are eating them.

The good texture of Thoory dates means that they are good for using in baked goods. In fact, this type of date is also called the “bread date.”

So, if you are looking for a soft, juicy type of date, Thoory dates may not be for you. However, if you want to use firm tasty dates in a baking recipe, these dates are a perfect choice.

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Khadrawy Dates

Khadrawy Dates

Khadrawy type of dates are best consumed fresh

If you are looking for a medium-sweet date that isn’t too big date, then Khadrawy dates may be excellent for you.

These mahogany-colored oval fruits have a dry flaky skin that covers firm flesh. Compared to Medjool dates, these are slightly smaller and maybe not as sweet. However, their good texture and sweetness make them a favorite choice for many people.

To enjoy Khadrawy dates at their best, you should consume them fresh as they don’t last as long as other kinds of dates.

Mabroom Dates

Mabroom date

Mabroom date is a type of date with a long oblong shape and firmer flesh

A delicious variety of soft dry date is Mabroom date that grows in Saudi Arabia. These long dates have brown wrinkled skin without any flakiness.

In some ways, Mabroom dates are similar in texture and taste to Ajwa dates. However, compared to other sweet juicy dates, the Mabroom variety is not as sweet and has a firmer chewy flesh. This is one of the varieties of dates that ripens on the palms and are harvested when they have dried.

If you enjoy eating dates but don’t have a sweet tooth, Mabroom dates are a great choice. They have a mild sweetness and their flavor isn’t as intense as Medjool or Deglet Nour varieties.

One distinguishing feature of this type of date is that they have a long oblong shape.

These dates are harvested in their dried state and, therefore, have a long shelf life. Also, due to them being a premium date variety, Mabroom dates are usually more expensive than other types of date.

Barkawi Dates

Barkawi dates are a variety of date fruit that have a golden-brown to reddish-brown skin and are juicy and sweet.

Compared to other varieties of dates, Barkawi dates have an elongated shape. The fruits from this date palm can measure around 2” (5 cm) long and just 0.6” (1.5 cm) wide.

Anbara Dates

The Anbara variety of date is a large type of fruit that looks like long thick fingers. This date variety is one of the largest types of dates and also one of the most expensive.

One reason why these dates are prized so much is due to their delicious taste and sweet flavor. Their firm fleshy texture and large size mean they are great for snacking on. Also, they have good levels of sweetness but aren’t as sweet as some fresh soft date varieties.

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Khudri Dates

Khudri date

Khudri date is one of the most exported types of dates in the world

Khudri dates are an excellent example of a dark-brown type of dry date that has excellent sweetness.

The deep mahogany skin has a slightly wrinkled look to it. However, there is no flaking on this type of dried date. Biting into a Khudri date reveals sweet chewy flesh that tastes wonderful.

These dates grow in a variety of sizes. Because the Khudri date palms provide bumper harvests and the dates keep well, they are one of the most exported types of dates in the world. You can expect the ripe, fresh, dry dates to stay fresh for around 8 months in an airtight container.

Safawi Dates

safawi dates

The safawi date is eaten semi-dried or can be left to dry on the tree as it ripens

One of the darkest varieties of dates is the Safawi date from Saudi Arabia. These oblong black dates are deliciously sweet and of medium size.

Safawi dates are a type of semi-dried date and the fruit retains its soft sweet flesh. Similar to Anbara and Barkawi dates, this date variety has an oblong shape. Depending on its ripeness, the dates can be soft and sweet or crisp with mild sweetness.

If the fruit is left to dry on the tree as it ripens, it stays fresh for a long period of time. In its dried state, the Safawi fruit will be dark and wrinkled without any flakes on the surface.

Ajwa Dates

ajwa dates

The ajwa date is a type of very dark date with wrinkly skin

Ajwa dates are an example of a soft juicy variety of fruit that has a wonderful texture and rich taste.

This type of date is one of the most popular varieties exported from Saudi Arabia. They have a dark, almost black wrinkly skin and retain their softness well. In fact, the juicy flesh is so smooth that eating these dates feels like they melt in your mouth.

Ajwa dates, as with most types of dates, are rich in healthy vitamins and minerals. This date variety is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K as well as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Halawy Dates

Halawy dates are a very sweet variety of date that have juicy thick flesh and amber-colored skin.

The taste of Halawy dates has been described as sweet like honey. Biting into these soft dates reveals a chewy-textured flesh that is similar to eating caramel.

The smooth wrinkled skin doesn’t flake and isn’t sticky. This makes Halawi dates a great date for having sweet tasty treats without worrying about filling up on unhealthy calories.

Maktoom Dates

Another type of large reddish-brown date is the Maktoom (or Maktoum) variety. These Maktoom dates are delicious and not overly sweet. This means that you can enjoy them at any time of the day.

Compared to other varieties of dates, Maktoom dates have thick wrinkly skin that covers exquisite soft flesh. This soft type of date has slightly sticky skin. Many say that they are similar to the famous Medjool in their texture and flavor.

To enjoy these dates, it is best to eat these fruits from the Maktoom palm tree when freshly harvested. The dried varieties tend to lose some of their sweetness and softness.

Zahidi Dates

Zahidi dates are a delicious type of dry date that have high fiber content and are a light amber color.

One of the unique aspects of Zahidi dates is the fact that they are sweet and creamy without having high sugar content. In fact, compared to Medjool dates, these semi-dry dates are lower in sugar.

These dates are of medium size and have an oval shape. Unlike some other varieties of dates, Zahidi palm fruits are light brown color when ripe. In fact, due to their smoothness and light flavor, many in the Middle East refer to them as the “butter date.”

If you are looking for a good all-around date for eating, then Zahidi dates are a good choice. The amber fruits are delicious eating fresh as a snack and their good texture holds up well in cooking and baking.

How to Choose the Best Dates?

Depending on your taste and preference, you may look for soft dates, semi-dry dates, types of fresh dry dates or dried dates.

Remember that many varieties of dates are left to dry and ripen on the tree. So, dry wrinkly skin doesn’t mean that the date isn’t fresh.

How can you pick the best kind of date? Fresh dates will have either a slightly wrinkled skin or smooth sticky skin. Avoid dates that have a hard feel to them and don’t have a slightly glossy shine on the skin.

Also, there should be no signs of crystallized sugar on the skin as this could be a sign of an old, not so fresh type of date.

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