Dates are a sweet fruit with high nutritional value that many people eat daily because of their well-known health benefits. There are various types of dates available on the market.
You can buy fresh, semi-dry, or dry ones, depending on your preferences. Whatever you choose, you will probably wonder do dates go bad or how to store them to last longer. Let’s see.
Do Dates Go Bad?
Dates can go bad just like any other fruit. However, they have a long shelf life, and you will likely eat them before spoiling. When storing them properly, you will ensure they last longer than the label date shows.
However, all fruits ripe over time and rot eventually, so you can’t keep dates fresh forever. You can expect their quality declines over time. If you find these fruits in your pantry after a long time, you will see that they have entirely dried up and become hard, rubbery, and inedible.
How Long Dates Last?
Dates are one of the oldest fruit types that exist for thousands of years. In the Middle East, the date palm tree is often called the Tree of Life. According to Islamic legend, God created it after Adam from the same dust.
There are many types of dates, but all of them are rich in fructose, minerals, and vitamins. Another similarity is that all species have long shelf lives.
You can use this fruit for months and some even a year or two after the best before date. A more precise shelf-life determination will depend on the fruit type. All dates fall into one of three existing groups:
- Fresh – The most common are Mazafati dates.
- Semi-dry – Some of the best-known sorts are Piarom, Sayer, and Rabbi.
- Dry – The most popular are Zahedi dates.
Date shelf life
|Mazafati||1 to 3 months|
|6 months||12 months|
|12 months||18 months|
You can keep any of these date types in a pantry for several months after the label date pass. Plus, storing them in the fridge will increase their lasting even more.
Remember that fresh dates last shorter than dried ones, so put them in a fridge if you have them for a while. Dates’ shelf-life also depends on their ripeness, so always pay attention to the package. There are usually one of three possible marks:
- Khalal – These dates are unripe, crunchy, and yellowish.
- Rutab – Dates of the usual brown color are in an ideal phase for consumption.
- Tamar – There dark dates are overripe and with the highest sugar content.
5 Tips to Tell If Dates Has Gone Bad
If you store dates incorrectly, they may become contaminated with mold and bacteria and go bad eventually. The good news is that you can effortlessly recognize when it is time to throw this fruit away:
The foul date odor is the first thing you will notice when they spoil. Generally, this fruit has a mild, neutral scent, but it will develop an intense, rancid, or alcoholic odor once it goes bad.
A color change is the next alarm sign. Dates that suddenly darken or show pale spots on the surface are inconsumable. In most cases, the mold appearance accompanies discoloration.
You will know that it is time to throw your dates away when they become sticky and slimy to the touch. Combined with other indicators, this is a sign that you should not take risks by eating them.
Just like the quality, the taste of dates will change the longer they last. Still, bitterness or acidity is something you won’t feel with safe dates. If the flavor has changed significantly, discard the rest of the package.
It often happens that someone throws perfectly edible dates after spotting white tiny dots on their surface and mixing them with mold. Mold is a reliable indicator of rotten dates, but it is always accompanied by a change in smell, color, and texture.
The pale spots below and over the date’s skin may represent crystals of separated fruit sugar. You can lightly heat the dates to see whether the marks disappear. If that happens, they are perfectly safe to eat.
5 Tips to Store Dates
Dates will spoil even during their shelf life if you expose them to excessive humidity, mold, or heat. There are some general storing tips applicable to all dates, no matter what type you have.
The crucial thing about storing dates is to keep them in the dark and dry spot, at room temperature. Excessive heat accelerates spoilage, while high moisture can lead to mold appearance. So, the pantry is the ideal place to store these fruits.
Plus, dates contain very little water, and high temperatures further dry them out. If you live in a warm climate, you need to keep them in the coldest place in the pantry, preferably on shelves closer to the floor.
Once you open the pack, place uneaten dates in a glass jar, tight seal container, or a resealable zip bag, then put them in a corner. That way, they can last over the year until you make full use of them.
If you keep an open date pack in the refrigerator, white mold will develop quickly over them. Therefore, you should use transparent foil and wrap the dates before tightly sealing the container where you keep them.
That way, you will prolong their shelf-life. Every time you use dates, you need to close the package again so that the fruit will stay protected from excess moisture.
The most significant danger in freezing dates lies in the so-called freezer burns. If you want to store dates long-term, wrap them in aluminum foil before placing them in a container intended for freezing.
Otherwise, don’t be surprised when realizing that dates have become unusable after defrosting them a few years later.
If you get into the habit of washing your fruit before use, you will prevent the introduction of dust, insects, or potential bacteria from date bark into your body.
However, keep in mind that it is best to wash dates just before consumption or preparation as otherwise they may absorb too much water, lose quality, and become moldy. The best option is to put them in a sieve dish and rinse under a stream of cold, clean water.
If you find a forgotten package of dates, they are often solid, dry, and hard to chew. Luckily, you can revive them after checking they show no signs of spoilage.
Boil a pot of water, leave it cool for ten minutes, and put the dates in it. Take them out after half an hour, and dry them with a paper towel. You will notice that fruits have regained a good part of their freshness and are no longer rubbery and dry.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Dates
Dates belong to the fruits you can safely eat after a few months of storage in the pantry. So, there is no need to throw away a whole package that seems okay, just because you have forgotten about having it.
To date, there are no reliable studies that prove that eating spoiled dates cause any health risks. The only problem is that they will become tough, hard to chew, and too sweet if you keep them for too long.
Keep in mind that dates are rich in fiber, potassium, and sugars. That means excessive intake may cause health issues such as digestive disorders and hyperkalemia.
Some people can also develop an allergy to dates over time with symptoms that include skin rash, redness, eyes stinging, or watery nose. Don’t forget that moldy dates can cause food poisoning. Therefore, always look for signs of spoilage before eating expired fruit.
Can You Freeze Dates?
The high sugar content allows dates to freeze quickly and easily. If you buy dates in bulk, the simplest thing for you will be to put the whole package in the freezer.
You can keep it frozen for at least three years without any doubt about the reduction in quality. Namely, dates thawed at room temperature have an almost identical taste to those from the freshly open package
In case you want to freeze dates that have stayed for a long time in the fridge, you need to transfer them from the original packaging to an airtight container. You can also use zip lock bags, mason jars, or glass Tupperware.
Once you decide to thaw dates, take them out of the freezer a few hours before use. If you are in a hurry, you will speed up defrosting by putting dates in a bowl of hot water. They will be ready to use in about half an hour.
Never use the microwave to defrost frozen dates. Otherwise, rapid thawing at high temperatures will destroy dates’ texture.
Dates are a highly nutritious fruit that has an almost unlimited shelf life. You can keep them safely in your pantry or fridge for several years. Still, their quality declines as time go by, so you should freeze them to prevent that.