Of the many sweet fruits, dates are one of those fruits that are blessed with a long shelf life. And this is one of the reasons why people stock up on them. Nonetheless, dates go bad. Yes, even though they can be dried and remain usable.
With this established, you should be curious to know how long date fruits can last before it goes bad. Also, knowing how to store them properly will help you make ample use of their long shelf life.
What Are Dates?
Dates are the fruits of the tropical date palm tree. The trees are native to many regions of the world and this is why they are very popular. The date fruits form large clusters that hang from the palm tree. Ripe date fruits are identified by their brown, wrinkled backs.
These fruits are known for their sweet, sticky taste with a nutty flavor. The nutty flavor is more prominent when date fruits are added to baked goods, salads, smoothies, and tarts. You can purchase these sweet fruits as either fresh (very soft), semi-dry, or very dry date fruits.
Furthermore, dates provide nutritional value. They can help lower your cholesterol levels and control weight gain. Date fruits are rich in antioxidants, so they strengthen the body to fight diseases.
Additionally, date fruits improve digestion and heart health, may help control diabetes, aid detoxification, and help with insomnia.
Do Dates Go Bad?
Yes, dates go bad. Although they have a long shelf life that can help you avoid spoilage, date fruits can still go bad. When you don’t store them properly or eat them quickly, they will go bad.
In essence, spoilage with date fruits depends on how properly you stored them and how quickly you consumed them.
Do Unopened Dates Go Bad?
Unopened date fruits will not go bad, at least not as quickly as opened date fruits. Dates are best stored in an airtight container, away from too much heat and sunlight that can remove their natural moisture. At room temperature, unopened dates can last up to three months.
Nonetheless, they will last longer if you keep them in a refrigerator. Moreover, how long date fruits last (opened or unopened) depends on the form they are in. For instance, very soft date fruits won’t last as long as dry date fruits.
Do Dates Go Bad in the Fridge?
If the date fruits are well preserved in a freezer bag or airtight container, they won’t go bad in a fridge. Besides, a fridge can help you preserve your date fruits for twice as long as they’d last at room temperature.
In a fridge, date fruits will remain fresh for up to six to twelve months.
How Long Do Dates Last Outside the Fridge?
If you store date fruits properly in the pantry or kitchen cabinet, they should last long. When you keep the dates outside the refrigerator, keep them away from sunlight, moisture, and out of the reach of insects.
Do Dried Dates Go Bad?
Yes, they do. Dried date fruits have lost their moisture and they naturally last longer than fresh date fruits. However, they may go bad. When dried dates have gone bad, they smell of rot and develop mold.
Additionally, there is something worth noting. Sometimes, what the dry date fruits develop is a white speck that could be mistaken as mold. The white speck is a result of the high sugar content in the date fruits. It is not a cause for alarm; a little exposure to sunlight will remove the specks.
What Is the Shelf Life of Dates?
The shelf life of date fruits varies with how you store them and the form they were in when you bought them. For instance, dry date fruits will last longer than semi-dry and soft date fruits. At room temperature, dates will last between weeks to three months.
Also, freezing dates can preserve them for up to five years. Therefore, store your date fruits properly to extend their shelf life.
Can You Eat Bad Dates?
Eating bad date fruits may not show long-term or lethal side effects but it’s not advisable. When you notice moldy growth or other signs of spoilage, throw them away. Consuming bad date fruits put you at a risk of food poisoning and allergies that come with old date fruits.
How to Tell If Dates Are Bad
Feel the texture
Good date fruits should feel sturdy and smooth. If you bought dry date fruits, the backs should feel dry and smooth. Any deviation from this like a slimy, sticky feeling is a sign that the fruits are bad. You should throw them away.
Check for mold
Mold growth is very different from the white specks that are a sign of high sugar content. If you are not so sure about what you see on the dates, break them open. If you see a black, powdery growth on the inside, the date fruits are bad.
Smell the date fruit
Fresh date fruits have an earthy, nutty smell. When they go bad, they smell rancid, alcoholic, or rotten. If you notice this smell, it’s time to throw the dates away.
The presence of insects
When date fruits are going bad or have gone bad, you may find bugs and worms inside the date. This is why you should break open old dates before you throw them into your mouth or blender.
However, if you’re using this as a sign to determine bad date fruits, don’t conclude over a bowl or bag of dates. Open a few more and examine them carefully before you throw them away. Also, check the best by date before you conclude.
Taste the date fruits
When date fruits are bad, using the sugary taste alone may not help. This is because sometimes older dates have higher sugar content. When your date fruits have an acidic, bitter taste amid the sweetness, it’s time to do away with them.
Additionally, if you don’t taste bitterness, check for an off taste from what they naturally taste like.
How to Preserve Dates
- Keep date fruits away from sunlight, air, and moisture
- Wrap opened date fruits with an aluminum foil and store them in cold areas of the house
- You can also preserve date fruits for longer by refrigerating them
- Additionally, freeze your date fruits if you want to store them long-term
- Most importantly, always check the dates, wherever you store them. Check for bad dates among the batch and reseal the bag if necessary
Can you freeze date fruits?
Yes, keeping dates in a freezer will help retain their quality for up to five years. But before you freeze date fruits, make sure you package them in a freezer bag or an airtight container and keep them at the back of the freezer.
What does mold look like on dates?
Mold growth on date fruits is seen on the inside after you have broken open the shell. The mold is a speck of powdery black dust, and it’s a sign that you should throw the dates away.
Can you use old dates again?
Old, dried date fruits are still good for food. If they are too hard to break or blend, you can soak them in water to soften the flesh and return lost moisture.
Do date fruits get worms when they go bad?
Yes, sometimes bad dates have maggots. This is why it is advised that you open the dates before you eat them rather than just chewing away.
Do dates give you diarrhea?
Yes, if you eat too many dates you can get diarrhea. Dates are very sugary, so you should eat only a little at a time.
It’s easy to fall for the hard, sturdy backs of dates and think that they never go bad. Dates go bad and you should keep this in mind while you stock up or choose to leave them lying just anywhere in the kitchen.
It is important to know and be able to identify signs that tell you your dates have gone bad. Most importantly, store them properly because this is the way to get the best of their long shelf life. If you notice a bad date among the others, take it out quickly before the rot spreads.
Thanks for reading.
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