Learn how to make date paste with this fool-proof method and indulge your sweet tooth naturally with a healthy sweetener that's ready to add to all your favorite recipes.
Embrace your sweet tooth!
The war on sugar is pervasive and ubiquitous. Refined sugar and all those sugary snacks and drinks that come loaded with it. All those sugar foods with the empty calories they contain are leading contributors to weight gain and obesity. Just being overweight increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Gregor (nutritionafacts.org) reports that white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup may trigger processes leading to liver toxicity and other chronic diseases. Ok, that’s scary.
Here’s the problem. Even if we acknowledge the need to cut back on refined sugar. And for every sugar-covered donut we resist, we’re not likely to quell our sweet tooth. Our desire for sweet-tasting food is perfectly normal. Sweetness is one of our 5 tastes. We find healthy ways to enjoy bitter, salty, sour, and umami flavors. So why not sweet?
Forks over Knives concurs that sugar, as it occurs in whole foods, is not an issue. It necessary and should be embraced. I’m up for that.
There are a variety of 'non-sugar' sweeteners. Check them out. It may make you a bit dizzy. Some are not as healthy as others, but there are 2 in addition to fruit pastes or juice that I'd like to highlight.
1. Agave syrup (agave nectar) derived from the agave plant, can replace honey. It's a bit thinner but healthfully sweetens up a cup of tea.
2. Maple syrup is another natural sweetener, although you have to spend the money getting the ‘good’ kind (100% maple syrup). If you buy something of lesser quality, all your effort to thwart added sugar goes right on your pancakes.
Unless you tap your own grove of maple trees or grow agave roots in the back garden, the quickest and most convenient alternative sweetener date paste.
In many places, date paste is readily available in the supermarket. If you carefully read the labels, you can find date paste (or date syrup) that contains no added sugar or other ingredients. I’ve always tried to keep a bottle in stock. But I’ve also had to admit that it’s been a bit of an indulgence because I’ve found it to be slightly expensive.
And I seriously had to ask myself why I wasn’t making it myself. Date paste is made from dates, with a bit of water. All you need is a blender or food processor and a water-filled bowl.
A date with dates
There are several kinds of dates you can use. The most popular and common are Medjool dates, also known as California-style date. These are my favorites because they are big, and the pits are easy to remove. They also have a sweet and subtle caramel flavor.
I might have my personal favorite, but any date variety can be used to make date paste. These include:
Barhi – a fragile, soft date that is somewhat syrupy. You probably won’t need to soak Barhi dates before processing them because they are quite delicate.
Dayri – these distinctively long dates have a heavy sweet flavor. A little paste will go a long way with these.
Deglet Noor – If you want date paste that isn’t so sugary, Deglet Noor dates are considered 'dry,' with a sweet, delicate flavor.
Halawy – this is another super-sweet, honey-flavored date. These are really nice right out of the bag, so try to exercise control if you intend to make date paste from them.
Khadrawy – these are rich, but not overly sweet-flavored date. These dates are a good option if you want something less sugary.
Thoory – In addition to being sweet, thoory dates have a nutty flavor. These are what I like to call 'baking dates' because they are great in bread recipes.
Zahidi – sweet and sugary, these are semi-dry dates. They look like large, golden raisins. They are also great for baking, but they are also meaty, so they are worthy candidates for date paste.
Tips for making date paste
Be sure to remove the pits from the dates before you soak them. Use a knife to cut the date in half lengthwise, then use your knife or fingers to remove the pit.
Soak the dates in water for 4 hours or until they are fully rehydrated. You can also cover them and put them in a cool place or the refrigerator overnight.
Drain the soaking water before you process the dates. You can reserve a cup of the water to add as needed for processing.
Start processing the dates at a slow speed, adding 2 tablespoons of water. Then increase the speed of your food processor or blender.
Keep checking the date paste and add water a tablespoon at a time until you have a consistency you like.
Store any unused date paste in the refrigerator in a sealed jar or container. Homemade date paste will keep for about 1 week. You can also freeze date paste or other fruit pastes. I use an ice cube tray for this purpose so that I can use it as needed straight from the freezer.
Stored date paste may accumulate a bit of moisture on the top. Mix it up before using if it has settled a bit.
You can add a vanilla bean, lemon juice, or spices to date paste such as cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg. It depends on your ultimate use, so consider the flavor profile you are after.
The instructions for making date paste can be applied to other fruit pastes. Consider using dried mangos, apricots, or figs. Have a fruit paste party, make several and freeze them for adding distinctive flavors to your favorite recipes.
How to use date paste
I use date paste in dishes from 5-alarm chili to kidney bean curry. Date paste can also be used to substitute honey or maple syrup for baking. You need to adjust the amounts. The recommendation is that for every ½ cup of maple syrup, you should add 2/3 of a cup of date paste. For every 1 cup of sugar, use 2/3 a cup of date paste.
Reducing sugar is a worthy aspiration, but you don’t need to suppress your sweet tooth. In some cases, like baking or sweetening up your favorite recipes, just a gentle shift will suffice. So easy, there’s really no excuse. So grab some dates and a blender. Get on with it. Forward steps. Peace.Print
Learn how to make date paste and indulge your sweet tooth naturally with a sweetener that's ready to add to all your favorite recipes.
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 2 cups of water
- Be sure to pit the dates before soaking.
- In a small bowl, add the dates and cover them with approximately 2 cups of water.
- Soak the dates for about 4 hours or until they are fully rehydrated.
- After the dates are rehydrated, drain them. You can reserve the soaking water for making paste or discard it.
- Add the dates to a blender or food processor with 2 tablespoons of water. Begin processing at a low speed and gradually increase the speed, adding water a tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
- Store unused date paste in the refrigerator for a week or freeze in ice cube trays for at least 3 months.
- 1 cup of dates will yield about 1 cup of date paste depending on how much liquid you add.
- Don’t skip the soaking (rehydrating) process. Using boiling water can help speed up rehydration by 2 hours or more if you are in a hurry.
- Add water a tablespoon at a time and blend after each addition of water.
- Add a vanilla bean, lemon juice, or spices such as cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg if you want a flavored date paste.
- To substitute date paste for sugar, use 2/3 of a cup of date paste for every 1 cup of sugar or every ½ cup of maple syrup.
- Category: Essential Ingredients
- Cuisine: plant-based
Keywords: date paste