Dates have been cultivated by man for over 6,000 years, with the first historical mention dating back to biblical times. Dates were so valuable in the ancient world that the beautiful date palms they grow from would often be passed down as family heirlooms from father to son or as a daughter’s dowry.
Medjool Dates, the largest and tastiest of the date family originated in the hot dry desert of Morocco. The fruit was extremely rare in the Old World as it was notoriously difficult and labour intensive to cultivate. As a consequence, Medjool dates were exclusively enjoyed by Middle Eastern royalty and were often referred to as ‘The Diamond of Fruits’. Today, dates are highly regarded as a superfood, providing essential vitamins and minerals while also providing a delicious flavour for both sweet and savoury meals.
After a devastating root disease threatened to wipe out the Moroccan crops at the beginning of the 1900’s, an American horticulturist saved 11 shoots and placed them in quarantine in Nevada for seven years. Nine plants survived the move and were planted in Southern California in 1935. All Californian Medjool Dates are decendents of the 11 Moroccan palms.
Californian produced dates are the best looking and best tasting in the world. The US domestic harvest for Medjool Dates is expected to reach nearly 16 million kilos over the next 5 years. There are approximately 100 growers that contribute to this expanding export market. More date producing acreage is constantly being added to the Californian region in order to keep up with the increasing demand.