Date Paste 101
What is date paste?
Date paste in its purest form is just one ingredient: puréed dates. But what do you use it for and why do you use it? The quick answer is that you can put it in almost anything, either in place of sweeteners or to give recipes an enhanced flavor. Date paste will also have all the benefits of regular dates, and because of that it is desirable in itself even when there is no need to replace something. It can be spread over toast, used to thicken and sweeten smoothies, or eaten plain. Date paste is also easy to make—all you need is a blender, food processor, or even a fork to blend together dates that have soaked in hot water. The simplicity of this recipe and the fact that you can make it home makes date paste more accessible for many people than date sugar or syrup, both equally good sweeteners that could replace less healthy sugars.
Recipes for date paste vary and are versatile. The simplest recipes to make at home normally add water to help puree the dates. Date paste is also sometimes used synonymously as date caramel, but this can be confusing because date caramel normally includes other ingredients such as milk, cream, salt, or vanilla. While the methods for incorporating those additional ingredients are fairly similar, I will focus on how to make date paste as it’s more commonly understood, a recipe that uses only the most basic ingredients: hot water and dates. However, the more ingredients you add the more it alters the shelf life, nutritional benefits, and the texture. If you want all the benefits, pure pureed dates is the best way to go when getting date paste.
How do I use date paste?
When the only ingredient is dates, date paste is extremely thick and stiff. As I mentioned before, you can use it in smoothies, on toast, or instead of sugar in muffins or bread; really in any recipe that could benefit from being a little more thick or dense. Mousse or other pudding-like desserts are excellent recipes to incorporate date paste into as it is a completely natural sweetener that tastes a little bit like fruity caramel, and can be exchanged 1:1 for normal sugar (1). Date paste can also be used as a fast, easy substitution in any recipe calling for chopped dates—all you do is scoop the required amount. Some people use date paste on charcuterie boards as a pairing to sharp cheese and crackers, or, since it is just dates, eat it plain with a spoon (2). It also makes a good filling for pastries, or a base to proteins bars that gives them structure and adds a subtle spark of flavor to a perhaps otherwise mundane recipe (3).
Is date paste healthy? (Talk about nutrients!)
The flavor alone is reason enough to use date paste, but there are other benefits nutrition-wise and cooking-wise. Since date paste is made from pitted and puréed dates, it retains almost all of the calories, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that you will find in whole dates. The amount will vary depending on how much water is in the paste, but among those are magnesium, potassium, iron, and vitamin B6. Dates help maintain the body’s natural growth, improve bone health, reduce some types of cancer, and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Dates also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can improve brain health by reducing any inflammation that may be harming the functions of the brain. While they do contain fructose, this is a natural type of sugar found in fruits that does not have the same effect as unnatural sugars and the fiber rate is extremely high, making dates easy to digest and helping to control blood sugar (4).
These are the nutrition benefits, but date paste has some benefits when it comes to baking with it as well. First, it is low on moisture and has a high acidity, which gives it a long shelf life and makes it easier to incorporate into recipes. It doesn’t normally interfere with chemical leaving systems, is compatible with yeast-leavened dough, and gives baked goods a softer texture (5).
How to make date paste
You can also make your own version of date paste. The ingredients are simple, hot water and whole dates. A high power blender or food processor is the easiest way to blend the dates, but it’s still possible to make it with a normal powered machine or even a fork. All it takes is a little more time and water. You can pit the dates before or after you soak them, whichever works best for you, but the average soaking time if you have a high power blender is 30 minutes. You need enough dates to at least cover the blades. The longer they soak the easier it will be to blend them. You can also use dried dates, but those may need to soak overnight. Once they are soaked, you blend them in 2-3 minute sessions to avoid making the blender overheat. If the paste is too thick you can add more hot water, but just keep in mind that the more water it has, the shorter its shelf life will be. However, the benefits to adding more water is that it will give extra moisture to your baked goods, so more water isn’t necessarily a bad thing (6). If you’re using a normal powered machine you’ll want to use roughly a 1/4 cup of hot water to every cup of dates to help blend them up (7). And, if you’re using a fork, you’ll need to soak the dates over night in hot water before mashing the dates together like you would bananas for banana bread. With only a fork it can be a bit time consuming to get a smooth and even paste, and you can add more hot water as needed just like when using a blender (8).
Once made, you either use it immediately or store it in the fridge or freezer until you need it. In an air tight container, date paste made without water will probably keep up to 3 months in the refrigerator, but paste with water should be used within a month of making it. The safest way to store it long term is in the freezer, where it can last for around a year (9). It’s pretty easy to scoop when it’s frozen, or you can store it in smaller portions so that there’s no danger of reducing the quality of the date paste by thawing out what you aren’t ready to use (10).
As you make and use date paste you’ll begin to get a feel for what is the best consistency for different recipes. That’s the beauty of making your own date paste, you’re able to adjust the amount of water to get the most suitable flavor for the food at hand. Any variety of dates will work (although the moister they are the easier they’ll blend), and once blended, the health benefits are almost the same as they were before. However, making date paste is time consuming, and if you’re looking for a quick, easy solution, buying date paste can be the way to go. Date Lady date paste is just like eating whole dates, while adding more variation and color to your menu.
Date paste recipes
Date can be used to make a few of our favorite recipes. Make a decedent chocolate mousse that can be used as a frosting, make these homemade copycat snickers bars or these 10 minute truffles. You can't go wrong with our tried and tested date paste recipes.
Date paste FAQ
Does date paste need to be refrigerated after opening?
Yes, date paste needs to be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator after opening.
How much date paste equals one date?
If the recipe calls for a medjool date, we recommend using 1 Tbsp of date paste. If it doesn't specify the date variety, we recommend starting with 1.5 tsp of date paste.
How much date paste to replace sugar?
You can start by substituting 1:1, but it depends on the recipe. You may need to decrease your dry ingredients to get the right consistency. We have more info here about substituting dates in recipes.
How do I soften date paste?
We recommend using a double boiler or leaving your date paste out at room temperature for a few hours before adding to your recipe.
- https://www.alphafoodie.com/how-to-make-date-paste/; https://ourplantbasedworld.com/how-to-make-date-paste recipe/.
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Dates can vary in size and often times recipes don’t mention the variety of dates they’re using so we recommend starting with 1.5 tsp of date paste for every date called for in a recipe.
How much date paste equals whole dates for a recipe?