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Monday, September 12, 2011


collecting dates
Photo by: Experience Nubi
L. Phoenix dactylifera, Ar. tamr or rutab (fresh date), najīl (the tree and the fruit), Heb. dátle,Fr. datte, MEng datys, Eng, date palm. Diosorides claims that it is a native of Egypt. It spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa and southern Spain, especially along the coast. It can grow to 23 m. or 75’ tall and live for 150 years.

It bears male and female flowers, which must be artificially pollinated. The tree does not produce dates during the first four or five years. When it reaches full maturity at 10 to 15 years, it can produce more than 1,000 dates or 18 lbs per season.

All parts of the tree are used. It was the Christian symbol for “this is my blood.” In some areas it was believed that Mary gave birth to Jesus under this tree. New mothers ate three dates for better health. 

Dates were a staple food among the Arabs, including those in Al-Andalus during the Middle Ages. The sap was used as to make fermented and unfermented drinks, vinegar and syrups. Date and flatbread crumb paste recipes are found in the Anon Andalus. Fadalat suggests date filling for donuts.

If the seeds were not used as medicine, they were given to livestock as feed. They signified material help. After eating dates or fritters with date filling, the mouth was cleaned and one gargled with cold water. The poor and the rich ate dates alike.

In Al Andalus they were thought to be hot and dry and to have a heavy substance and a noxious chyme, capable of obstructing the liver and numbing the brain. Fresh dates were believed to be worse than dried for were though to produce tumors in the liver and kidneys.

Photo from: Rahel Jaskow
It was a fruit that was little appreciated, except for people who perform hard labor, those who suffer from fatigue and those who eat little The results were believed to be less noxious than for others. Large dates were thought to be more flavorable but more harmful then small ones. The medulla of the date palm was thought to have a heavy, cold substance. When eaten, it was believed that it generated very potent sperm and, therefore, employed as an aphrodisiac. Crusaders were the first to bring dates to England. 

[Aguilera. 2002:84; Anón/Huici.1966:419:231:424:233-234:425:234; etc; Bolens.Cuisine. 1990:328; Ency Brit. 1998:3:Ceara:897:2a; ES: Shamsuddín. “Gastronomía.” Sep 21, 01; Groundes-Peace. 1971:29; Font. Plantas. 679:957-959; Granja. 1960:44:21; and Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:80]



Date Filling
Caution: do not taste or you will lick the plate clean!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 ⅓ c warm water
8 c flour
2 tsp salt 
2 tsp white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
¾ c olive oil
2-4 raw eggs slightly beaten 


Dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes.

Add half the flour flour, salt, sugar cinnamon and half the olive oil to the yeast mixture. Stir until combined and then work in the last half of flour.

Knead the dough until smooth, about 10 minutes. Add only enough flour to keep the dough from being sticky. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in it and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into two rectangles.

Place both layers on a greased pan or baking sheet. Cover with and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Prepare date filling, instructions below.


Totally Delicious!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Cut dough as desired, such as in a circle. Spoon filling on top. Top this with another circle the same size. Paint the edges with raw egg and press the edges of the two sides together to make a stuffed doughnut. Drizzle olive oil on top that layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Ingredients for Date Filing

1 ½ c pitted and chopped dates
1 c sugar
½ c chopped nuts
juice from 1 orange
shredded rind from 1 orange
½ tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon


Mash the dates until they look like brains and mix with the other ingredients. Complete the preparation as explained above.

[1]For the recipe for tarts with the honey filling see blog titled pelar posted February 13, 2017.

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