Date syrup contains only one ingredient: organic dates. But how is date syrup made? We're here with a little more information for those of you with inquiring minds. You know who you are. It's understandable. Just 8 years ago when we introduced Date Lady Syrup to the US market, people were very skeptical about this strange concept. Does it taste good? Does it have sugar in it? A date is a prune, right? (We aren't joking - that was a common question!) Americans have always had a love or hate relationship with dates; have you ever seen the ones packaged in a metal can, or perhaps all dried up in not-so-tasty high fiber cereals? It seems food manufacturers haven't been quite sure what to do with them in the past and it was kind of a slow moving concept to be grasped. Fast forward to the present day and they are on restaurant menus broiled and wrapped in prosciutto and found in all thing both delicious and healthy. Everyone wants to know more about this beautiful fruit and its nectar which are swiftly becoming popular choices for both the foodie and clean eating crowds. Let’s begin with a little history.
Date syrup is actually one of the oldest sweeteners available today. Ancient cuneiform manuscripts from Mesopotamia mention the syrup, showing it as the primary sweetener of that time. In the Bible, the word “honey” can be translated from the Hebrew to describe a fruit honey, rather than the honey from a bee, and is commonly referred to as “date honey” in commentaries. Considering the profound quantity of date palms in that area, it is very likely this was indeed referring to honey from the date, or, date syrup. Although date syrup has been around for thousands of years in other parts of the world, the United States has just recently seen increased interest.
The Difference Between Date Syrup and White Sugar
With all of the talk out there about sugar we have to ask -- is date syrup just another sugar? The answer is no, and through explaining a bit more about the production and nutrition, you can see why. Although fruit provides natural sugars, there is quite a difference between the lineages of table sugar and fruit. There are two primary distinctions. First, sugar is heavily processed to get to a point of consumption. Common table sugar is mostly made from beets, or sugarcane, neither of which can eaten without a significant amount of processing that in the end, results in something very different from the original nature. Fruit is generally something that becomes ripe, ready to eat, and sweet by its own natural process. Secondly, sugar is mostly void of any nutritional benefit at all except for calories. Fruit, however, contains a significant amount of vitamins and minerals.
Production of Date Syrup
Date syrup, as a fruit, contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. It is unique to other sweeteners in the process it takes to derive it. It isn’t honey, it isn’t maple syrup, and although a fruit, it isn’t made like a fruit concentrate is either. Honey, as we know, is made by a magical fleet of celestial winged creatures (now that we think about it, that is hard to compete with) and maple sap is gifted to us by wise old trees (also impressive), and boiled down into syrup. With a fruit concentrate, you take fresh squeezed juice and boil it down until most of the mass has evaporated out. Date syrup, on the other hand, has no real juice coming from the dates to concentrate. In Middle Eastern markets, it is common to see dates for sale, and often bagged together tightly, and when they get hot from the desert heat, you can see in the corners of the bags that the whole dates themselves are naturally turning into nectar, or syrup, rather than a juice coming out and separating itself from the fruit.
To produce date syrup efficiently on a larger scale and in an uncontaminated manner, the process goes a bit differently. Because they contain very little to no water activity or juice from the get-go, you actually have to add in water to strain the nectar from the dates. Essentially date syrup is made by heating dates in water, blending the dates, pressing the mixture through a filter to strain out pits and insoluble parts of the date, and then evaporating the water that was put in, back out. What you are left with is the nectar, which contains vitamins and minerals from the date.
Is Date Syrup Healthy?
Although it takes more than 1 lb. of dates to make 1 lb. of date syrup, it is not what's traditionally called a “concentrated” fruit product, because we aren’t decreasing the nectar of the fruit, but using water to draw it out. The mass is naturally decreased just from removing the pits and breaking down the fruit, but not from separating the moisture or juice from the fruit, and then concentrating it. So this is why 1 lb of date syrup has a very similar amount of calories and sugar compared to the same amount of whole dates. And because date syrup does retain most vitamins and minerals from its original nature, it is also one of the most nutritious sweeteners on the market. See how it compares with maple syrup and honey below.
As date cultivation continues to grow, so will research to seek out other possible benefits of this ancient fruit of the date palm. We'll continue to talk dates now and then on the blog, so check back with us! Until then, what questions do you have for us? We'd love to answer them - shout out to us at email@example.com!