Are Date Pits Edible?
We all know about the edible part of a date, but are the date pits edible? There is a resounding YES echoing in the room. Each date contains a single pit and people use date seeds for all sorts of things from syrups all the way to cosmetic products. Stay tuned to see how you can use date seeds in your own home.
First, we will go over some background info on dates to get you up to speed on where they originated and other cool facts. At the end, we will go over a brief guide on growing date trees at home so you can have the freshest dates if you so choose!
Some Background Info
Date fruits originated from date palms in the Middle East. These tropical stone fruits contain edible flesh. If you are looking for a great snack that can supply you with quick energy, look to dates as they contain a large supply of natural sugar. They are often sold dry which concentrates the sugars even further. This makes them a great natural sweetener in breads and other candied foods.
Many times the large pit is removed before being sold, but if you are lucky to pluck one straight from a date tree (which could be an adventure since they can grow over 40+feet tall) or happened upon one at the store, then this could be your chance to utilize them!
Fun Fact – Out of the total weight of the date, the date seed may be between 10 -15% of the weight of the entire fruit.
Finally, there are a variety of dates, but they all hail from the species Phoenix dactylifera. Some of the most common types are:
- Medjool dates
- Deglet Noor dates
- Barhi dates
Let’s talk briefly about how to remove the pit if you haven’t done so already. It’s pretty simple! Place your date on a cutting board and slice a small hole into the side (about 1/8th in. long). Be sure not to go all the way through to the other side. Then gently use either the knife or your finger to remove the pit. Voila! You’ve done it.
Next, you are going to want to wash and dry the seeds. At this point you have two options. You can put them into a high powered grinder and crush them into a powder raw. Other people toast them in the oven first and then grind them up. It all depends on the recipe you are making.
Read the specs on your grinder to make sure it has the capability of grinding the pits. You don’t want your machine to go up in smoke because it can’t handle the tough nature of this seed.
Uses For Date Pits
While not commonly used on the West Coast, date pits have been utilized in the Middle East for centuries. I think you will find their varied uses fascinating and an exciting twist to your recipes. Plus, they are full of health benefits which you will read about further down in this article.
1. Date Powder
A versatile powder indeed. It can replace part of the flour used in breads, cookies, cakes and other bakery products. The powder lends a sweetness to the baked goods while supplying a good source of dietary fiber. The powder can also be added to smoothies or juices for added benefit without reducing the flavor.
2. Date Seed Coffee
If you are looking for a non-caffeinated coffee replacement, dates seeds can give you what you need. The pits can be roasted, ground, and made into a coffee-like beverage. Some options include slowly replacing the coffee grounds in your drink with some of the ground date seeds and then gradually wean yourself off the caffeine. Maybe add in some ground chicory root to mix it up.
The only thing you need to remember to do is remove the white skin off the dates first before roasting.
3. Date Syrup
As we mentioned before, dates can be a tasty sugar substitute as it is a natural sweetener. What is less commonly known is that the date seeds can be made into a great sugar alternative as well. You can mix it with honey to make a spread and slather it on some crunchy toast. It can also be used as a sweetener for tea and coffee.
What if you sweetened the date coffee you just made with your syrup? My mind is grappling with sweet delight that might turn out to be!
4. Date Seed Oil
This one may require a little extra work, but it could be well worth it to you for its high thermal rating and other nutritional benefits. The oil can be used in cooking and is similar to olive oil. It has recently garnered attention in cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries for its application in beauty and healthcare products.
You may be seeing date seed oil in more products in the future as they keep ramping up production of the fruits.
5. Animal Feed
Have a little homestead with horses, cows, sheep, or goats? Well you are in luck! A common practice for utilizing the date seeds in the Middle East is to use it as supplemental feed for livestock. It is often mixed with other grains to balance nutrition for the animals. The seeds will need to be ground first in order for the nutrients to be digested.
I know this last one takes you out of the kitchen, but I thought it was an “out of the box way” for you to use the seeds.
Health Benefits of Dates
The list of benefits from dates and their seeds is extensive. Hopefully, these spark some inspiration for you to start using date seeds! Here a few benefits [ 1, 2 ] :
- B vitamins
- High Dietary Fiber Content – May reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack and can lessen the spike in blood sugar as it slows down digestion.
- Rich source of antioxidants – Prevents oxidative stress as well as oxidative damage due to free radicals.
- Rich source of fatty acids
Grow Your Own Date Tree
Tired of getting your fresh dates from the grocery stores? If you want to have this scrumptious sweet fruit available to you at home, you might want to consider growing your own tree. Unfortunately, this is one plant that is going to require a warm climate and decent amount of space to grow.
Container varieties can be grown, but they tend not to grow big enough to develop fruit or what they do produce doesn’t taste all that great. If you still want to at least fantasize about growing dates, there are beautiful pygmy varieties available with leaves that make you feel like you are in a tropical oasis. (And maybe you are because they grow well there!) They are definitely a wonderful addition around the house and garden.
Where to Grow?
As we mentioned before, you need a warm climate in order for fruit to develop. Ag Zones 8b-11 will be your best bet for planting. If you are in the United States, dates are often grown for fruit production in southern California and Arizona. Florida, Texas, Southern Utah, and Nevada grow them as well, but not as much as the former states mentioned.
Another aspect to this plant is space. Date trees grow very large on their own, but you actually need at least two plants (male and female) in order to produce fruit which doubles your space needed. They also like to spread their roots horizontally so be aware of this as well.
The trees like well drained, slightly dry, loose soil. They also enjoy full sun as many of us do!
Feed The Plant
A good helping of manure in the spring is wonderful for this plant to grow tasty dates and be healthy.
The tree can withstand drought, but be sure to give plenty of water when it is flowering and fruiting. When you have just planted the sapling, give it water for a few months in order for it to establish its roots.
Watch out for the thorny spikes on date palms. You might consider removing the ones near the bottom to prevent injury while doing general garden maintenance.
As with any garden, critters of all shapes and sizes will try and snag the fresh dates off the tree for themselves. Keep an eye out when the time comes to harvest so you can get a good share of the crop for yourself.
And there you have it folks! In summary, I believe we answered the question “are date pits edible?”. Now that you have the answer, I encourage you to get out there and start using the seed for yourself! Hopefully you live in a place that also gives you the opportunity to grow them! What a way to live to go outside and find fresh dates growing in your backyard. Yes please!
Also, if you were curious about eating date seeds, you might be a person with an explorer’s mind. If so, you might be interested in discovering whether or not you can eat oregano flowers. Are their sweet nectar and flowers only for the insects to enjoy? Check out our article here to find out!
Until next time!
[ 2 ] Mrabet, A., Jiménez-Araujo, A., Guillén-Bejarano, R., Rodríguez-Arcos, R., & Sindic, M. (2020). Date Seeds: A Promising Source of Oil with Functional Properties. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 9(6), 787. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9060787