How many different varieties of dates are there?
There are a staggering 1,600 different varieties of dates cultivated around the world. Some of the most popular cultivars include:
Aabel – A type of date common in Libya.
Ajwa – A soft, fruity, black date, cultivated in the town of Medina in Saudi Arabia. They are particularly populr amongst Muslims as the city of Medina is known as the city of the Prophet and has great historical and religious importance.
Al-Khunaizi – A particularly sugary variety of date from the town of Qatif in Saudi Arabia.
Amir Hajj/Amer Hajj – A semi-sweet, soft date with a large pit, thin skin and thick flesh. Grown in Iraq, they are a delicacy often served to guests, giving them the name 'the visitor's date'. They are grown origanically and are not often commercially available, instead being bought direct from the supplier.
Abid Rahim – A cultivar found in eastern Sudan, similar to the Barakawi date but longer, thinner and lighter in weight. In Nigeria, these dates are called Dabino dates and are commonly used by Nigerian Muslims to break their Ramadan fast.
Barakawi – Another cultivar from Sudan, similar to the Abid Rahim date. They are considered to be a profitable date cultivar and are in high demand, being exported to Egypt where they are known as Ibrimi or Sakuti dates. They are a deep reddish-brown colour with light yellow discoloration.
Barhee/Barhi– Originally from Basra, Iraq, the Bahree date is a small, round, chewy variety of date with a caramel flavour. They have a medium-thick skin and are amber to dark brown in colour when ripe. Unlike other date varieties, they are not dried or processed, but eaten fresh. Where most varieties are only edible in one stage of development, the Bahree date can be eaten in three different stages of development.
Bireir – Grown in Sudan and praised for their quality; the flesh of the Bireir date clings firmly to the seed, meaning they stay soft and juicy for a long time. Bireir dates can be sold as a compressed cake called Agwah and are also traditionally used in the production of local wine called Khumur.
Dabbas – Dabbas Dates are one of the smallest dates varieties in the world. Originally from the United Arab Emirates, they are golden brown in colour and have a lovely soft, smooth texture and delicious taste.
Datça – An oval, yellow-ish brown variety of date grown in Turkey, most commonly eaten by locals.
Deglet Noor - Originally cultivated in Algeria, on the east coast of Africa, Deglet Noor dates are a sweet, medium-sized, semi-dry date known for its 'true' date flavour, with a skin that turns from amber to deep brown as it ripens. They are considered to be amongst the best varieties of dates in the world and are often referred to as ‘the queen of all dates’.
Derrie or Dayri - An organic date variety from southern Iraq, the Derrie date is soft and dark, with slightly sticky skin. They are sweet and earthy, texturally like caramel, tender and chewy, and taste like molasses.
Empress – Developed by the DaVall family in Indio, California, United States, from a seedling of Thoory. Empress dates are a light caramel to maroon in color, while most have a distinctive yellow crown at the top of the fruit. The taste is slightly less sweet of the Medjool and with a chewier texture.
Fardh or Fard – Fardh dates are grown in the heart of Al Ain. They have a deep dark brown, tender skin, sweet flavour and small seed. Fardh dates keep particularly well when well packed.
Ftimi or Alligue – Grown in inland oases of Tunisia, these dates are a full-flavoured and mahogany coloured.
Halawy - A sweet, soft, honey-flavoured date, small to medium in size and with a bright golden brown skin and tender flesh. They are similar to the Deglet Noor in shape and color but the flavor and texture are unique.
Haleema/Halima – Halima dates are a rare variety found in the areas of Sokna, Hun and Waddan in central Libya.
Hayany/Hayani – A dark red to black date very popular in Egypt but not exported from there. California produces a modest crop that is sold fresh as they are quite tricky to cure.
Honey – A soft, creamy-textured and sweet-tasting variety of date which are said to “melt in your mouth``. With the pits removed, they are commonly used for the purpose of sweetening recipes with their sweet, caramel flavour.
Iteema – A variety of date native to Algeria. It is a soft, large, oblong date with a light amber colour and very sweet taste.
Kabkab – Kabkab dates are amongst the more important and abundant date varieties in south Iran. They are long, oval and around 3.5-4cm in size and vary from yellow to dark brown in colour depending on ripeness. Kabkab dates have a soft, fine texture and a hard skin due to their long, grey pit that clings to the flesh. They are popular for their delicious, sweet, syrupy taste.
Kenta – Common in Tunisia, Kenta dates are less sweet than other varieties. They have a light golden colour and semi-dry texture.
Khadrway- Originally from Iraq, Khadrway dates are not overly sweet. Compared to the better-known Medjool date, they have a high moisture content, less sugar, and a milder flavor. They are a dark mahogany color and have a dry, flaky, paper-like skin.
Khalasah – One of the most famous palm cultivars in Saudi Arabia, the Khalasah date has a glossy skin and sticky, amber-red flesh. Also available in the Coachella Valley, Calinfornia, they are not overly sweet and are best savoured, leaving them to melt on your tongue.
Khastawi/Khusatawi/Kustawy – The leading soft date in Iraq, Khastwai dates are small, syrupy dates, most commonly used in desserts.
Khenaizi – A 'luxury' date from United Arab Emirates. Khenaizi dates are soft, medium-sized dates with a mild sweetness. They are dark brown in colour, with a juicy texture and best enjoyed before they are fully dried.
Lulu – Another date variety from the United Arab Emirates. Lulu dates are brownish in colour and are sweeter than Khenaizi dates. Unlike Khenaizi dates, they are typically consumed in their dry stage.
Maktoom – A large, red-brown, thick-skinned, soft, medium-sweet date from Saudi Arabia.
Manakbir – A large variety of date fruit that ripens early, but with the disadvantage that the palm produces few offshoots meaning multiplication is limited.
Medjool - The most difficult to cultivate and therefore most expensive variety of date, large in size and with amber to reddish-brown skin, a rich, sweet taste and fibrous texture. Known as the ``king of dates``, Medjool dates are originally from Morocco but are also grown in the US, Israel, Saudia Arabia and Jordan.
Migraf/Mejraf – Large, golden-amber dates, popular in Southern Yemen.
Mgmaget Ayuob – A variety of date from Hun, Libya.
Mishriq – From Sudan and Saudi Arabia, Mishriq dates are the most common and cherished variety in Dar al-Manasir. Mishriq trees require more watering than other palm trees.
Mazafati – A medium-sized, dark, soft, fleshy date with a sweet taste and relatively high moisture content. Also known as Bam dates (after the region in which the most delicious dates of this kind are grown), Mazafati dates are one of the many different kinds of Iranian date fruit. They are perhaps the most popular, well-known variety of date, accounting for an estimated 20% of Iran's total date export.
Piarom – A round, black-brown date, widely considered the most delicious of all semi-dry date varieties. Piarom dates, also known as Marayami dates or 'chocolate' dates', are arguably one of the most delicious semi-dried varieties of date in the world. Unique in taste and appearance, they are one of the most expensive varieties of dates available, particularly as their production is exclusive to Hajiabad.
Rabbi – A soft, dark-brown, semi-dried date, long in size and with a moisture content of under 15%. Rabbi dates are amongst the best loved and earliest date varieties. Their production is exclusive to Iran, with cultivars grown in Sistan and Baluchestan province, known to produce dates of particularly high quality. Rabbi dates come just behind Stamaran, Shahani, Mazafati and Kabkab dates as having the most economic value of all date produce in Iran.
Rotab – Rotab dates are a medium-sized dark, soft and sweet variety of date. They are grown in the Bam region of Iran. They are particularly suited to fresh consumption due to their long shelf life.
Sag‘ai – From Saudi Arabia, Sagai dates are known for their two-toned colour and texture; they are golden at the base with a slight dryness, while the rest is brown and soft. They are chewy, with a mild sweetness, and are best consumed with milk.
Saidy/Saidi – Popular in Libya, Saidy dates have a soft flesh and sweet taste and are similar in texture and shape to Sekkeri dates.
Sayer – A thin-skinned, semi-dry date with a unique taste, ranging from yellow, to amber, to reddish-brown on colour as it ripens. Also known as Stamaran,
Saamaran, Stamara or Samberun dates, they are one of the many delicious varieties of date produced in Iran, accounting for 65% of all dates produced there. They are the main variety of dates produced in Khuzestan province and, as one of the highest quality Iranian dates, they have high export value.
Sukkary – From Saudi Arabia, Sukkary dates are cylindrical, red-black dates with sweet, soft flesh. They known for their exceptional sweetness and hard texture. They are the most sought-after and expensive variety of date in Saudi Arabia.
Sellaj – Most notably grown in Saudi Arabia, Sellaj dates are typically consumed when the date palm has not fully matured. They change from yellow, to gold, to brown as they mature. Their soft texture is responsible for their name, which in Arabic means 'to be consumed easily'.
Tagyat – A date variety common in Libya with a high moisture content.
Tamej – Another date variety common in Libya.
Thoory - A sweet, dry, nutty flavoured date, medium to large in size, with golden-brown flesh, also known as the 'bread date' because of its suitability for baking.
Umelkhashab – A variety of date from Saudi Arabia with taste that is both sweet and slightly bitter. In addition to its unique flavour, the Umelkhhashab date has vibrant red skin and bittersweet, hard white flesh.
Zahidi - A semi-dry date with a sweet, sugary flavour, smooth, glossy golden-yellow skin and full of syrup. Although cultivated in a number of regions of Iran, the most extensive production of Zahedi dates takes place in Dashtestan, a city in Bushehr province, where they are the only produce that is exported.
Zaghloul – Almost exclusively found in Egypt, Zaghloul dates are long, sweet, red-skinned dates which are typically served fresh. In Egypt, they have great sentimental value due to the fact that they share a name with national hero Saad Zaghloul.