So when I asked people their thoughts on dates (not the kind where you go out with someone special and get dinner/see a movie OR the dates in a calendar), ya know.. those funky little fruits, most weren’t that ‘into’ them. To me they look pretty much like a raisin on steroids. Now growing up, when we would get a fruit basket these things were the LAST things to be touched and honestly they were usually pitched. I refused to put one of those things in my mouth. God! What if they tasted YUCKY?!?!?! was my thought process. Yeah… I wasn’t too adventurous food-wise growing up. Now while I still am no where in the same ballpark/city/state, hell – country as Andrew Zimmern, my tastes have evolved and I’ve become more daring. Yeah I know… “big step there on being daring toots if you think eating a date is daring…”. Yeah I know but hey, it’s at least a step so stuff it 😉
Anywho… about 10 years or so ago I got another fruit basket from work and of course they had dates in them. This time figured I’d try one. They actually weren’t bad. Very sweet but not in a bad way. So from then on I’ve included them in my diet. They have numerous health benefits packed with vitamins and minerals. One thing though that I always circled back to was their natural sweetness. I decided one day to include them in some muffins I was making. Well the first batch with them in the muffins were just way too sweet. Why? I had sugars in my batter. Adding sugar to something always sweet is like adding sugar on top of Frosted Flakes! I know, sick, right?! Yet people do it.. blech! So my next batch I pretty much omitted the sugar and added the chopped dates. These were really good but I wanted the pieces a tad finer. Talking with some friends of mine one day they that started telling me how they make their own sugars from naturally sweet dried fruits. This intrigued me. While they had this massive dehydrator that works amazing perfect to make your own sugars like this, I was not going out and buying one. I don’t really eat dried this or jerky that – it’s an odd texture thing for me that I just can’t get past. I don’t like to gnaw on foods. So that being said I was set out to figure out how to make my own dried dates. Sure you can buy them but why? It’s expensive and you’re literally paying someone to do the work for you. After trial by error I finally figured out a way to make my own.
The only real downside to making your own is if you don’t add some cornstarch to it, it will clump. It doesn’t melt so I wouldn’t recommend it in coffee/tea and if you’re looking for something that melts say in a cookie, don’t use it. But what it’s awesome in are those baked goods where you have texture and want all the sweetness but you only want natural sweetness. This is a great sugar substitute too!
Rule of thumb with using date sugar is to use only about 1/2 of what you would put in say for brown sugar. This stuff is naturally sweet so you don’t need a lot. For white sugar use about 2/3 cups date sugar in lieu of every 1 cup of white sugar. Next time you make cinnamon toast, sprinkle some of this on top for an amazing treat! Or if you want to sweeten your oatmeal or yogurt, sprinkle this on top. SO GOOD!
Turn these GORGEOUS beauties into this…Print
- 1lb fresh, cleaned pitted medjool dates
- 1–2 tsp corn starch
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
- Lay the dates on the pan ensuring they do not overlap.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the dates are hard as a rock.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Using a very, VERY powerful food processor or spice/coffee grinder (make sure it’s a grinder that’s only used for foods), add a handful of the dates to the grinder and process until a powder forms.
- Add in a pinch or two corn starch to each batch and process for a few seconds. This will help the sugar to not clump.
- Continue with the rest of the dates.
- Store the sugar in an air tight container.
In baking I substitute date sugar as such:
1 cup of brown sugar = 1/2 cup date sugar
1 cup white sugar – 3/4 cup white sugar