Soft dates have the most moisture, followed by semi-dry and dry dates, which contain little or no moisture.
The Medjool is a soft date variety that is grown in the Northern Territory.
The colour of dates ranges from golden brown to black.
The fruit is categorised depending on the moisture content.
Sticky, sweet dates can be eaten raw, stuffed with savoury treats or used to make desserts. In Victoria, dates are at their peak between July and September.
The date palm grows best in sub-tropical areas that have long, hot summers and little summer rain.The palm takes five to six years to produce its first crop of fruit but it can then produce fruit (more than 70 kg) every year for nearly 80 years. They have long leaves (3–7 m) with large spines that grow on the main stalk.Male and female flowers are produced on separate palms.Female palm trees are ready for pollination two or three days after the female flowers open.Dates are also a perfect pairing for almonds or walnuts, and can be stuffed with soft cheeses and aromatic herbs and spices.
It is believed that dates originated in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) around 3500 BC.