A Glossary of Dates

There are thousands of named date varieties. They fall into two main categories, soft and dry, and are most readily available from fall through winter. The succulence of freshly picked dates will astonish anyone who has never tasted one before.

Photography by: Marcus Nilsson

We fell for dates long ago, and visiting Flying Disc Ranch renewed our love affair with these delicious, mineral- and fiber-rich fruits. Flying Disc does mail order; another source for fresh dates is Oasis Date Farm.


Here's the lowdown on some of the main varieties:

1. Khadrawi

Khadrawi is a classic soft variety, with a rich flavor that’s not too sweet.


2. Dayri

A date for date lovers, it has a strong flavor with a hint of vanilla. Large and luxurious, it’s dry like a medjool but less sweet.


3. Amber

A dry date with a pretty color and shape, it has a very sweet cinnamon flavor.


4. Yellow Barhi

Barhi dates are unusual in that they can be eaten not fully ripe, when they have the crisp texture of an apple and a flavor that is fresh and slightly astringent. Yellow barhis are considered a delicacy in old-world date-growing regions. They are available during fall at Flying Disc Ranch.


5. Kustawi

This is a fine dessert date for eating out of hand, with an elegant “date-y” flavor that isn’t cloying.


6. Zahidi

Zahidi is sometimes known as the “butter date” for its pale color and subtle flavor. It’s a mild and likable variety for people who think they don’t like dates.


7. Medjool

Known as the “queen of dates” for its large size, pillowy texture, and very sweet, strong flavor, it is surely the most famous date in America, although its name means “unknown.” The variety is available at most specialty groceries year-round.


8. Deglet Noor

The deglet noor is a prime example of the dry category. It’s chewy and medium-sweet, with a complex flavor that is nutty and evocative of brown sugar.


9. Barhi

A fully ripe barhi shows the soft date varieties at their most sensual: luscious and full-bodied in flavor, with a delicate skin and melting texture. The taste is reminiscent of caramel pudding.


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