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  • Writer's pictureSaid Ait Bajja

What do you know about Morocco Dates?

Dates play an important part in Moroccans’ life and cuisine. It is a must-eat fruit in Ramadan. Morocco has 100+ different types of Dates, out of which 45 of them are in the South. The biggest and perhaps the most popular ones are the Medjool dates. They were once called “the king of dates” and were reserved only for royals before. Medjool dates are very soft and sweet, with a very interesting, velvety flavor.

Morocco Medjool Dates

In Morocco, there are upwards of 6.6 million date trees, all spread over more than 51000 hectares. They are best grown in the oasis zone of Southern regions of the country, more specifically around Zagora, Ouarzazate, and Errachidia.

It is interesting that you can find Moroccan Medjool date palms even in western regions of the United States. It is because, in the 1920s, date palms in Morocco were threatened by Bayoud disease. To avoid extinction by disease and to save their dates, Morocco sent eleven date palms to the USA through agricultural explorer Walter Swingle. According to California historian Sarah Seekatz, every Medjool date grown in the United States can trace its roots to that single oasis in Morocco.

Moroco Date Palm in Ouarzazate
Morocco Date Palm at Ouarzazate

Importance of dates for the Morocco economy

Moroccan Dates are important for the local economy. In total, Morocco records anywhere from 120000 to 160000 tons of dates per year. It’s all a part of the Green Morocco Plan which is offering 12000 jobs and around 40 to 60% of the income for more than 2 million residents.

Dates producing

Growing these dates is a very labor-intensive process. It will take up to 7 years to grow a date palm tree before it starts producing. It will continually produce fruits for the next 75 years. Date palms must have full sun because they cannot grow in the shade. The fruit must be produced in hot weather (90◦ F) with no or low rain during the ripening period (Huntrods 2011). That’s why most of the date palms grow in Southern Morocco which is hot and dry. A date palm tree is around 23 meters in height. They are dioecious – i.e., the male and female parts are on separate plants. Dates are naturally wind or insect-pollinated. In most commercial orchards, only one male tree is typically sufficient for pollinating up to 50 females.

Once the dates are ready, the growers will hop and climb the tree, then come back with the dates. Dates are harvested generally at three stages of development- mature firm, fully ripe, or dry stages based on market demands. They are inspected, cleaned, or dried if needed, before being delivered to the markets.

How do Moroccans consume/eat the dates?

Most Moroccans like to enjoy them raw for freshness. It is a traditional Moroccan dessert in Ramadan. Moroccan Dates are not treated with pesticides, they are fully natural and that makes them incredibly tasty and healthy. Some of them enjoy them in the form of stuffed dates. But you will also find people that consume dates with chicken and couscous. Other recipes include Chicken and Date Stew, beef stew with dates, even lamb with dates as well.

Benefits or nutrition in dates

Morocco Dates are very healthy, and they are widely regarded as a great snack by a lot of people. With that in mind, they provide a variety of health benefits, as you can see below:

  • Morocco Dates are great if you want to protect your heart. They have a lot of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and maintain good heart health naturally.

  • You can also use the Morocco Dates to maintain healthy digestion. This helps you reduce the risks of colorectal cancer, not to mention they have a lot of fiber and that helps promote healthy digestion. They also prevent constipation.

  • They protect your brain’s health, keeping you away from Alzheimer’s disease or any other similar problems.

  • Morocco Dates are ideal if you want to support bone health. They contain calcium, copper, manganese, and potassium, all of which are important nutrients for your body.

  • You can also eat Morocco Dates to cure anemia. They have a lot of iron, which means they can balance iron amounts in anemic people, which can be very helpful.

  • Treating allergies with dates is possible, thanks to their organic sulfur content.

  • Morocco Dates are an excellent source of energy.

Erfoud Date Festival

If you visit Morocco in early October, you may be lucky to experience the Date Festivals. Every year, locals celebrate the dates harvest in October and host a 3-day date festival in Erfoud, which is a small town - 4 hours from the city Ouarzazate. It is one of the most popular events in that region and attracts many farmers and tourists. People will enjoy the Berber artists' performance of traditional music and dancing, fashion parades, taste the delicious local cuisine, or witness the crowning of the Date Queen. It is a great way to experience Berber culture and indulge in the date-food cuisine. There are many hotels in town, but you need to plan early for the reservation. Some tourists choose to visit and spend a night in the Sahara Desert since it is only 40 minutes away by car.

Now, you have known some interesting facts about Morocco dates. Next time when you visit Morocco, make sure to try out our dates and indulge your taste buds with amazing local food. Our travel agency- Sahara Sky Tours has culture tours that will bring you to explore Moroccan foods and Dates culture. Contact us to plan your future exploration in Morocco.

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