Perhaps the most exotic fruit in our product range is the date, which grows on the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera). The date palm originated in the Middle East – Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and along the Nile in Egypt. Nowadays dates are found across North Africa and the Arab countries, as well as Israel, California and Australia. There are more than four hundred different date varieties. The sweet fruits are oval in shape and contain a hard pip. They hang in bunches from the female trees.
Dates are delicious whether fresh or dried. Their high fruit sugar content makes them suitable for use as a sweetener, for example in desserts, cakes and tarts. However they are equally at home in savoury dishes, such as tajines (a North African stew) and salads. Dates are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B6, copper and potassium. Furthermore, they are rich in fibre, which can help against constipation.
Berrico supplies dried dates of the Deglet Nour variety. These dates are grown in Tunisia, in desert oases, where small-scale farmers own a hundred or so date palms on an area of 2-4 acres. It is an arid region with little rainfall, where the trees are irrigated with ground water that is pumped to the surface. Depending on the weather, the dates are harvested between November and January. Our suppliers have carefully selected the farmers – they know how to care for their palm trees; they hand-weed the ground and protect the date bunches against insects.
We carry the following date varieties in our product range:
Grade A = on a branch, with seed
Grade B = high moisture content, seedless
Grade C = low moisture content, good for dicing
Paste = for baking
The demand for this healthy, sweet snack is ever growing. Producers are reacting to this by making dates even more tasty by sugarcoating them. We, however, do not add sugar. This also makes the dates less sticky and therefore easier to pack. Our dates are supplied in both organic and conventional forms.
Good to know: some insects lay eggs in dry dates. To prevent insect infestation, our dates are picked when they are still soft.