What is the difference between Bautista Family Organic Dates and the dates sold in my local grocery store?
They're fresh. Most dates sold in grocery stores are old – many months, or even more than a year old. Bautista Family Organic Dates are always from the current season's harvest, and this freshness is evident in the optimal flavor and texture of the dates.
They're natural and raw. Most grocery store dates have been dried, sacrificing moisture for shelf-stability. When packaged dates are pit-less, you can bet that the dates were steamed to remove the seed. Bautista Dates are never steamed or dried and are never irradiated. They are offered in their natural pit-in state. (Bautista Medjools that have been pitted by hand are available in season at farmers markets and by special request for mail order, at additional cost.)
They're perfectly ripe. Most dates are harvested all at once, which reduces the grower's cost but results in inconsistent quality. Since the dates from even a single bunch mature at different times, the Bautista Family harvests dates from the same bunch in two, often three stages: this requires a far greater amount of work and time commitment, but it ensures that every date is harvested at its the ideal ripeness.
They're organic.The Ranch's date palms have been organically grown from the beginning: some more than 100 years ago! The original date farmers registered the property with the state of California as an organic date ranch. The Bautista Family began the organic certification process in 1999; certification was officially awarded in 2002. Bautista Dates are never irradiated.
These natural, untreated dates are beloved as a staple food (and treat!) for raw fooders, many of whom regularly purchase over 100 pounds at a time! Date palms produce fruit only in the desert's extreme temperatures, in intense sunshine that occasionally exceeds 120 degrees. If you define the raw threshold as 118°, any date may be a little too hot for you!
Refrigerator or freezer storage is strongly recommended for all fresh dates (except yellow Barhis, which must first soften at room temperature). While refrigeration is usually safe for short term keeping, freezer storage is a worthwhile insurance policy for moist dates, which will ferment (spoil) if your fridge isn't super cold or if its humidity and/or temperature can vary. Due to their sugar content, dates do not freeze solid and can be enjoyed straight out of the freezer.
Whether you opt for fridge or freezer, dates do lose moisture over time. Storing in an air-tight container will most effectively prevent moisture loss, though many of us devour our dates at such a pace that storage in an open container or in the shipping box, is, uh, not a concern. For best moisture and texture, buy dates at the speed that you eat them, rather than ordering several boxes at a time.
In temperate weather, fresh dates are usually okay for a few days without refrigeration, so if you are packing them in today's lunch or for a snack, no need to worry!
If your dates will be unrefrigerated for a longer period of time, such as while you are traveling or backpacking, keep them away from sun, heat, and humidity. Additionally, choose one of the firmer varieties, Deglet Noor or Zahidi, for best keeping qualities, or at least go with a firm-pack of any variety for longer shelf-stability compared to wet-pack dates. Allowing your dates to breathe in a vented package will also help.
When is the date season?
The harvest begins in mid- to late-August and continues through the end of September. Mail order shipping begins in September when temperatures cool sufficiently for safe transit. In 2011's mild southern California summer, shipping began in early September, but in 2012, the heat lingered, and 7HOTDATES fans' patience was challenged!
Dates are available until they sell out, which varies each season depending on harvest size. Please refer to each variety's profile (see links at the top left, in the red menu) for details. In response to the crazy popularity of 7HOTDATES, the Bautista Family has been planting more palms each year so that every date-aholic can savor this special fruit.
Bautista dates are not irradiated. Radiation of organic produce is prohibited by federal law Section 205.105(f). The EPA states the same here. Other websites, including Whole Foods Market and the nonprofit organic farming association NOFA, discuss it also.
The date ranch has been organic for over 100 years and certified organic since 2002. Thus, irradiation of Bautista dates is prohibited, and this is a family that cares deeply about the quality and healthfulness of their fruit – they would never irradiate. Additionally, they grow and pack all of their own dates – so, there is no outside packing company, for example, that could be irradiating. Bautista dates are at the Ranch until they are delivered to the mail carrier or sold at the farmers market.
Could the dates be irradiated by USPS? Perhaps if they were being sent to a government office, as that is the only condition under which USPS irradiates mail (which they must then label as irradiated). Chances are, this narrow set of circumstances has never applied to a box of dates, but as another prevention measure, every box of Bautista dates bears a sticker:
DO NOT IRRADIATE. Federal Law, Volume 65, Section 205.105(f) prohibits irradiation of organic products. Section 205.661(g)(1) states that Civil Penalties of up to $10,000 per violation may apply.
I have life threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and soy. Do you package your own products? Are tree nuts, peanuts and/or soy used in your facility? Is there any possibility that these allergens may have cross contaminated your products?
Bautista dates are harvested and packed at the date ranch. The packing room is for dates only – no tree nuts, peanuts, or soy come into contact with the dates.
Are dates healthy? How many calories are in a date? Are dates safe for diabetics?
Please see Nutrition.