Versatile and sweet, dates are often used in baking and cooking. Dates can be used as a base for a variety of diet-friendly desserts too! These fruits, which are a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, are often sold dry and packed by the pound so leftovers are inevitable. So the question is, do dates go bad?
Image used under Creative Commons from Ella Olsson
Dates are sold in three varieties: soft, semi-dry, and dry. The driest variety has the longest shelf life while the softest variety has the shortest shelf life. This is mainly due to the high water content of the soft dates. Some of the most common soft date varieties are Medjool, Khadrawy, Halawy, and Barhi. Thoory is the most popular dry date variety while Deglet Noor and Zahidi are classified as semi-dry. Storing the dates will depend on how the dates were prepared.
How to Store Dates?
Storing Dates in the Pantry
The pantry is a great place to store only the driest type of dates. Do note that even the driest type of dates has a small amount of moisture in it. This means that mold growth and contamination are a possibility if the dried dates were kept in storage for too long. Our advice is to limit the number of dates that you will store in the pantry. Also, store only the unopened containers of dry dates. If the container of the dates has been opened, the dates must be stored in the fridge or freezer.
Store the dry dates in a cool, dry, and dark place away from sources of moisture, humidity, and light. Exposure to excess moisture or humidity may increase the risk of contamination and/or mold growth. Use an airtight container to seal in the freshness.
Storing Dates in the Refrigerator
This method is perfect for opened and unopened packs of dried, semi-dry, and soft dates. The chilly temperature is ideal for extending the shelf life of dates. If you are storing dry dates, you can protect the fruits from moisture by wrapping the container in old newspaper or transferring the dates in an airtight container.
Soft dates are not as fussy when kept in the fridge although we recommend consuming your supply right away to minimize the risk of mold growth. Also, you want to pack open containers of soft dates properly so the chilly temps won’t dry the dates out. Store the dates in the coldest part of the fridge for best results.
Storing Dates in the in the Freezer
Dates freeze so well so go ahead and freeze a pack or ten if you have many bags dates to store! If you haven’t opened the packaging, there is no need to transfer the dates in a freezer-safe container. Just chuck the bags of dates in the freezer and that’s it. For opened packs of dates, these are best transferred in a freezer-safe container, perhaps a resealable plastic bag or a rigid plastic container with an airtight lid. Then, place the container in a double bag to protect the dates from the freezing temperatures. Freezing temperature may cause the dates to dry out or harden.
Image used under Creative Commons from Industry Arabic
Shelf Life of Dates
Dates have a long shelf life, even when stored at room temperature. Some people have successfully stored dried dates in the pantry long after the products’ expiration date and the fruits remained good enough to eat. This may have worked for some but try this at your own risk.
Unopened packs of dried dates will keep for 3 to 12 months in the pantry. In the fridge, dried, semi-dry, and soft dates will keep for a year or two. When kept in the freezer, dates of any variety will keep indefinitely.
How To Tell if Dates Have Gone Bad?
It’s easy to tell if dates have gone bad because the signs will be obvious. Significant or subtle changes in color are a sign that the dates are starting to degrade. Discoloration does not mean that the dates are no longer safe to eat. However, these changes could be a sign that the dates are about to go bad so use up your supply as soon as possible.
If you are seeing the presence of mold, the dates are no longer safe to eat or use. Give the dates a whiff. If the dates smell a little off or moldy, discard the dates immediately. Stored dates, particularly packs that are stored in the pantry for a long time, might attract insects such as ants and pantry bugs. If you are seeing these critters in a bag of dates, discard the dates.
Do dates go bad? Dates won’t keep forever so it’s only right to learn how to store these healthy treats properly. Just pack the dates in airtight containers and keep the dates away from moisture. Also, follow the storage tips we’ve outlined above to maximize your supply and avoid waste.