Home Cooking

Medjool Dates

September 14 2012 - 1:15 PM

You go to certain restaurants and you start to notice patterns: Gunthorp Duck, blood orange reduction, etc. Everything needs a fancy variation, right? It justifies the price and your finickiness. But dates are just dates, right?

Well, I’ve always secretly thought dates look like little roaches. They have that crispy sort of papery husk of a skin and a mushy center. And they’re a bitch to pit. But Medjool is on the right, and your common date is on the left.

Medjool dates are hard not to buy at a glance. They’re bigger and plumper, they don’t look like dead insects and they have a lovely purple hue to them, instead of the date-brown. They are a bit more expensive, but dates aren’t cheap to begin with and you’re usually using them for something fairly elaborate. So the extra buck should be worth it for the visual benefits.

Take them home and you realize you can almost pit them without any utensil at all. They stay together far better than your basic date and they are generally larger, so you have less to pit in the first place.

But the richer, fruitier taste is the real reason to spend the buck. Medjools taste like dates with an added sweet plum flavor. They effortlessly take to spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, or combine with other fruits and wine reductions. You never have to worry about a borderline-Fig Newton flavor. I can’t vouch for every specialty ingredient, but Medjool dates are better raw and to cook with, and even when reduced to a honey-like stock.