If you have ever wondered how to soften dates, you are most certainly not alone. This article will address that very matter, as well as provide you with some yummy recipes that include dates that you can try at home.
By the time you finish reading, you will know exactly how to get your dates soft, and you will have some recipes to use them for.
First, let’s take a look at what dates are, then at the reasons for softening them up in the first place.
What Are Dates?
Dates are a type of fruit that originate in the Middle East, though they are enjoyed by many people all around the globe in modern times. The two kinds of dates that are most commonly used include the Medjool and Deglet Noor, with the Medjool variety being sweeter than its Deglet Noor counterpart.
Dates are quite sweet and are often used in smoothies to add natural sugar to them. There are also many health benefits when it comes to eating dates, including high amounts of fiber, their ability to help regulate blood sugar, and their assistance in better bone health.
They also make great natural laxatives, so you could try eating some dates the next time you are having bowel movement issues for a natural solution.
Why Soften Your Dates?
If you eat dried dates without first softening them up a bit, you could end up feeling a bit sick as it is more difficult for your body to digest them this way. Raw, unsoftened dates don’t feel too pleasant on your teeth either.
Along with these factors, it is also smart to soften your dates for the sugars to be completely unleashed in whatever recipe you are using them in. It also makes them easier to blend into foods such as smoothies.
How to Soften Your Dates
There are a few methods you can take advantage of for softening up your stiff, wrinkly dates. This section will be covering each one in detail so you can figure out which technique might be best for you.
1 – Hot Water
A fast and effective method for softening up your dates is throwing them into a pot or bowl of hot water. This is probably the most common technique used by people who wish to soften their dates.
Let the fruit soak in some hot or even boiling water for about 10 minutes, then check to see if they are sufficiently soft. Some dates, such as older and harder ones, may take 30 minutes to a few hours to soften up, so this is something to keep in mind before you remove them from the water.
Once your dates are nice and squishy, you can take them out of the hot water carefully, let them cool off a bit, then use them for whatever you want.
2 – Soak Overnight
Another way you can use water for softening your dates is by simply submerging them in room temperature water overnight.
This will leave them soft and squishy, and they will more effectively add sweetness to your meal, snack, or smoothie. This is obviously not an ideal technique for those who are in a hurry to soften their dates, but it works well for people who are not in a time crunch.
3 – Microwave
For a fast way to soften your dates, you can take advantage of your microwave, if you have one in your home. Place the dates onto a microwave-safe plate, and heat them up on high for a minute or so.
Make sure to check them every 10 seconds so as to avoid accidentally overheating them, which will leave them rubbery and chewy. Also, keep in mind that if you chop up your dates before microwaving them, they will likely get soft more quickly.
4 – Steam
A final technique you can use for softening your dates is steaming them.
Add some water to a pot, and get it to a boiling point. Next, place your dates into a colander or steamer basket, if you have one, and place it into the pot before covering it with a lid.
Let the steam work to soften up your dates for around five minutes, then remove them from the hot steam. They should now be soft and ready for eating or adding to a smoothie.
Recipes Featuring Dates
Dates can be chopped up and thrown into salads, they can be eaten plain, or you can use them for smoothies and other recipes. This section will provide you with some ideas for ways to use those softened dates you have.
Take a look below at recipes for a smoothie, a date roll, and goat cheese and bacon dates.
Banana Chocolate Smoothie
Dates can add a natural sweetness to any smoothie, but this one featuring chocolate and bananas is especially delicious when dates are introduced to the mix.
Here are the ingredients you will need for this smoothie:
- 3 dates, pitted and softened
- 1 banana
- 1 cup milk (or milk alternative)
- 2 tablespoons cacao powder
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or almond butter)
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add the above ingredients to a blender after softening your dates, also cutting up the dates if you would like. Blend the ingredients together for about 30 seconds, then pour the smoothie into a tall glass.
You can garnish it with chocolate shavings and whipped cream for some added sweetness, if you wish.
Date and Nut Roll
This nutty-delicious date roll makes the perfect appetizer for holidays or any time, and it can be used as a spread for crackers or enjoyed on its own. Here is what you will need to make it:
- 2 cups dates, chopped, pitted, and softened
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup cashews, chopped
- 1/4 cup almonds, chopped
- 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
Once you have gathered your ingredients, you can add the chopped almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios to a pan to roast them over medium heat for about 30 seconds or so, or until they are lightly toasted. Next, add the sesame seeds to the pan, and let them roast for a few seconds before removing the ingredients from the stove and setting them aside.
After that, you can add your softened dates and the butter to the same, though now empty, pan over low heat. Let the butter and dates heat in the pan for a couple of minutes while regularly mixing it, then add the cardamom powder, raisins, and roasted nuts and sesame seeds.
Let the mixture cook for about another minute, and remove it from the heat to let it cool enough that you can further combine the ingredients by hand and roll it all up into a log. You can either use plastic wrap or wax paper as a surface for creating your log of nuts and dates, then place it into your fridge to chill before digging into it.
Goat Cheese and Bacon Dates
Many people love goat cheese, and even more people enjoy eating bacon, so why not combine them? What is even more delicious is when you put these two ingredients together with dates, as you end up with a sweet plus salty, creamy, and savory mix that is hard to beat.
For this particular recipe, you will need the following ingredients, as well as some toothpicks for piercing through your date treats:
- 24 dates, softened
- 12 slices bacon
- 4-ounce package goat cheese, softened
- 1 jalapeño
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
The first step is to preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit to let it sufficiently heat while you assemble your tasty little snacks. You can also prepare a baking sheet at this point by lining it with wax paper to prevent the bacon-wrapped dates from sticking.
Next, cut each slice of bacon in half to turn the 12 slices into 24, one for wrapping each date. Following this, you should mince the jalapeño, then combine it with the four ounces of softened goat cheese in a bowl.
After that, cut your softened dates in half, but not severing them all of the way, carefully remove their pits, and fill each one with the goat cheese and jalapeño mixture before closing them tightly. Then, wrap the filled dates with a piece of bacon, pierce a toothpick through each, and line them onto your baking sheet before sprinkling some cayenne pepper onto each one.
After putting them into the oven, your bacon-wrapped, goat cheese-filled date snacks should be ready in about 20 minutes. When the bacon is crispy and cooked, you can remove them from the oven and enjoy them after they have cooled down.
Softening dates is simple and can be done quickly, and doing so can make a huge difference in how sweet a recipe or smoothie will turn out. There is no reason you should pass up softening your dates before using them, so make sure to use this article as a guide so your dates will successfully infuse that sugary flavor you crave.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.