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Empress dates are a large soft variety with a narrow oblong shape and slightly pointed tip. They are light caramel to maroon in color with a contrasting distinctive yellow crown at the top of the fruit. The moist and chewy flesh of the Empress date mirrors a similar coloring on the interior with shades of light caramel and gold. The Empress date is slightly less sweet than its biggest competitor, the Medjool, but presents a thicker, chewier texture.
Empress dates are available in the fall.
The Empress date palm is a cultivar of the species botanically classified as Phoenix dactylifera. It is considered a mid-season ripening palm, and known for its dense heavier than average fruits. Of the three date types, soft, semi-soft and dry, they are categorized as a soft date along with the Medjool, Khadrawy, Halawy and Barhi.
Empress dates are an excellent source of dietary fiber, iron, potassium, folic acid and B-vitamins.
The chewy quality and firm structure of the Empress date makes it an excellent candidate for stuffing with either sweet or savory fillings. They are considerably less fibrous than some varieties and blend smoothly into purees or shakes, yet they hold a medium firm bite when diced and used in baked goods. Moderately sweet and mild in flavor, the Empress date pairs well with nuts, fresh cheeses, pork, poultry, rosemary, chocolate, cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, orange, coconut, banana, apricot, dark rum and brandy.
Dates were such an important part of ancient life in the Middle East, both as a building material and as a food source, that they were often destroyed in wartime by opposing countries as a means to sabotage the enemy.
Date palms are native to present day Iraq and are one of the oldest cultivated crops on the planet. The Empress variety was first introduced to California in the early 1900’s as a newly developed variety from E.K. Davall. Created from a seedling from the Thoory date which is considerably harder and drier, the Empress was much softer and quickly became a favorite of Davall’s. By 1955 it numbered among his 50 other prized date palms in his 15-acre garden near Cathedral City, California.
Recipes that include Empress Dates. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Simply Gluten Free||Gluten Free Sugar Free Pistachio Date Cookie Slices|
|Vegan Magic||Date Walnut Pancakes (no added sugar)|
|Andrea Meyers||Spiced Applesauce Cake with Black Walnuts, Rum Raisins and Dates|