How To Tell If Your Dates Have Gone Bad

One of the oldest and sweetest fruits in the world, dates are an incredible kind of produce. Food & Nutrition states that the fruit may have been first cultivated in that "cradle of civilization" that was once known as the Fertile Crescent, which stretched from Mesopotamia to Egypt, in 4000 B.C. The date is as old as human civilization. The fruit can be eaten fresh but is most often consumed after being dried because of its candy-like sweetness. The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center reports that dates are still heavily produced in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and parts of northern Africa. Today, Egypt is the largest producer of dates in the world.

Grown on trees that look a lot like the recognizable palm tree, the date thrives in warm climates and is considered a "holy fruit" in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (via Sayna Safir). The importance of this fruit in both Middle Eastern religion and culture makes this fruit significant to that part of the world's cuisine. An article in the Journal of Family & Community Medicine tells us that dates contain a lot of sugar which becomes more concentrated once the date has been dried. The fruit takes on its characteristic wrinkles. It is used to naturally sweeten cakes, puddings, and evenĀ Brussels sprouts salad recipes.

But like any fruit or vegetable product, dates have an expiration date (forgive the pun). So how can you tell when that time has come?

Inspect your fruit before you eat it

According to Fruits & Veggies, fresh dates you bought from a farmer should be inspected for mildew. But generally, fresh dates can last up to six months in the refrigerator in a sealed container and remain frozen for a whole year. You can keep dried dates in your pantry for six months, in your fridge for twice that length, and can freeze your dried fruit "for up to three years," writes the Foods Guy. Dates last for an incredibly long time when dried because the lack of water makes them less likely to become moldy. However, it's essential to identify when your dates go bad.

The Kitchn advises watching out for discoloration or mold not just on the outside, but also on the inside of the fruit. Multiple sites also ask that you use some of your other senses, including your sense of smell, if you open your dates and pick up a strong rotten scent, trust your nose and throw them out. The final thing to look for is creepy crawlies. Yep, bugs can find their way into your dates. In fact, Kitchn contributor Kelli Foster recalled finding a worm in her date while preparing a smoothie. The rich sweetness of the fruit attracts them. To avoid biting into something with legs, you can check your dates for bugs by cutting them open and looking inside (via Chicago Rabbinical Council Fruit and Vegetable Policy). You can never be too careful.