There are many types of dates, the most popular being Medjool and deglet noor.
Dates have a high sugar content and a low water content, making them perfect candidates for freezing.
Dates only have a water content of around 30% so their texture does not change when thawed.
Dates have massive health benefits. They are high in fiber which helps maintain healthy digestion and can relieve the symptoms of constipation. They are also high in Vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and copper.
If you follow our advice for freezing dates correctly, they can be stored in the freezer for up to 5 years. For best results, we advise consuming within 1 year.
How to freeze dates
The easiest way to freeze dates is to place them in a loosely packed airtight container. Label and seal tightly before storing them in the freezer. This works well for pitted dates.
If you have unpitted dates, you should cut a slit down the center and press out the pit. Place into a labeled airtight container and leave in the freezer until ready to use.
Another way to freeze dates is by making them into a paste. This works excellently as a refined sugar substitute. Dates are naturally incredibly sweet and gluten-free, making them the perfect whole food addition to baked goods.
To make date paste, the first step is to remove the large seeds from the center. Cover the dates in warm water and allow them to soak for a few hours to allow them to soften. Drain and reserve the soaking water.
Blend the dates in a food processor until they form a thick paste. Add 1 tablespoon of the soaking water at a time to help the paste reach the desired consistency.
Pour the paste into a freezer-safe ziplock bag and leave an inch or two of space at the top. Press out as much air as possible and seal tightly. Label well with the contents and date frozen. Lay flat in the freezer to freeze solid.
You can also freeze date paste in smaller portions. We advise using ice cube trays for this. Fill each cube about ¾ full with the date paste and place in the freezer overnight.
The next morning, when the date paste has frozen solid, remove from the freezer. Pop the date cubes out of the ice cube tray and place in a ziplock freezer bag. Press out as much air as possible, label, and return to the freezer.
How to defrost dates
If you wish to use frozen dates in smoothies, and they are unpitted or in a paste, simply add to your blender and blend as normal.
Dates will never freeze completely solid due to their high sugar content. For this reason, some people will snack on frozen dates straight out of the freezer. This is a healthy, energizing, and refreshing summer snack idea.
If you wish to thaw whole frozen dates, remove from the freezer 3 hours before use. Place on the countertop and allow to come to room temperature slowly.
A faster way to thaw dates is to immerse them in a large bowl of hot water. This will take about 30 minutes and will thaw the fruits gently to preserve their taste and texture.
A fast way to defrost frozen dates is to microwave them on a low setting. Heat in 30-second intervals until the dates have thawed completely. We do not recommend this method, but it will work in a pinch.
We advise thawing date paste by either allowing to rest on the countertop or by placing under warm running water.
Factors to consider before freezing dates
If you do not wish to freeze your dates, you can also store them in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. The cold temperature helps to keep the flavor in the fruit. This also keeps the texture soft and chewy.
The longer that dates are kept in the freezer, the more their condition will deteriorate. Dates frozen for extended periods may develop clumps of sugar crystals under their skin. This is not harmful and will not impact the taste, but will alter the texture slightly.
You should always leave an inch or two of space at the top of any container going into the freezer. This is because as foods freeze the water content expands to form ice crystals. By leaving space at the top of the container for the dates to expand into, you prevent the container from breaking.
If you are using the ice cube tray method, we advise measuring the volume of each cube prior to filling. Standard ice cube trays hold a volume of around 2 tablespoons per cube, but this can vary between manufacturers. The reason we recommend doing this is so that you know how much date paste you are using in your recipes.
It is important to press out as much air as possible when freezing things in ziplock bags. This is because air is one of the required components for the formation of freezer burn. Reducing the volume of air in contact with the dates reduces the chances of freezer burn developing on the date paste.
Do not heat frozen dates at a high temperature. This is because the sugars heat very fast. Exposing them to heat can cause the sugar crystals to caramelize and burn. This could potentially ruin your dates, so we advise thawing them gently.
Dates have a naturally long shelf life of a few months to a year, but this can be extended to 5 years if stored correctly in the freezer.
They will not freeze solid due to the high sugar content but will keep well in the freezer. You can freeze pitted and unpitted dates or date paste. Dates are an excellent refined sugar substitute and can be used in smoothies, baking, and many more dishes.
We do not recommend refreezing thawed dates as this provides a good breeding ground for harmful bacteria.