Dates are the oldest known cultivated fruit. They are also the most expensive crop to grown. And they are not easy to grow. Because they are fragile, everything must be done by hand. There are a number of operation that the grower has to perform up among the leaves where the date fruit grows. I think I remember that there are twenty-three such operations necessary to bring the fruit to harvest. And harvest time comes at the hottest time of the year, when temperatures can reach 120 degrees. I don’t think I want to be a date farmer.
There are over a hundred varieties of dates, but only a few in commercial production. The Medjool date is considered to be the finest. It was originally grown in Morocco for the exclusive use of the royalty. In 1927 disease threatened to destroy this date. Eleven offshoots were sent to the United States. The trees in Morocco were destroyed by the disease. All Medjool dates in the world now are descended from those eleven starts that were sent to the U.S.
I don’t think that many people in the states think of dates very often. A Christmas treat in our house when I was a boy were dates which had been pitted, a walnut half inserted in the middle, and then rolled in powdered sugar. I think I’ll make some of these this holiday season. Mmmmm! Nature’s candy.