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.
History: Sistan and Baluchestan province in Iran, home of the Rabbi date, has a long history in agriculture; for this reason, Sistan was once known as Iran's granary. In this region, date cultivation dates back around 2,000 years. Dates are perhaps the most important agricultural produce of the region, but other citrus fruits are also grown here.
Description: Rabbi dates are semi-dry, long, oval dates, about 3-5cm in length (but are available in varying sizes). They have thin, meaty skin that clings to the flesh are a soft texture. Rabbi dates are an attractive black colour, and have a unique and indescribable taste. They have a moisture content of around 16%. There is also another, smaller kind of Rabbi date, which is drier and very hard.
Grown in: The most important areas in the production of Rabbi dates in Iran are the in the Sistan and Baluchestan province; this is where the largest producers of the Rabbi date and the highest level of cultivation are found. Particularly good quality Rabbi dates are cultivated in Iranshahr, Zabol, Saravan and in the Chahbahar and both pitted and non-pitted varieties are available. A total of 11552 hectares of land is taken up by Rabbi date production in these cities, culminating in a produce of 170,000 tonnes.
Harvesting period: End of August for around 2 months.
Production: Due to the impressive growing capabilities of the Rabbi date and their resistance against low irrigation, the cultivation of the Rabbi date plays a significant role in Iran’s agriculture industry. Since the palm plays an important role in Iran’s economics, the correct use of fertilizers and agricultural operations is particularly important in order to increase the quality and quantity of palm. Thought is also given to the packaging processes and storage; modern technologies are used, observing health tips, and dates are kept in cold storage buildings during the 4 seasons of the year.
Exportation and consumer markets: Annually, a wide range of Rabbi dates are cultivated in Saravan city. In addition to the domestic demand, there is international demand for this Iranian product, seeing Rabbi dates being exported to Central Asia, India and Pakistan. Annually, over 11,000 tonnes of Rabbi dates are export from the Sistan and Baluchestan province, with an estimated value of over $12 million. In the international and export markets, the Rabbi date is marketed to palm owners as a semi-dried date fruit with has significant economic benefits.
Storage and shelf life: Rabbi dates can be kept at normal room temperature for around 1 year - 18 months under intermin fumigation. The fact that refrigeration is not required also makes shipping of Rabbi dates easy.
Nutritional content and health benefits: Packed with natural goodness, the Rabbi date has high nutritional value. Amongst the most important substance found in Rabbi dates are Lactose and Fructose, a rich source of natural sugar that can even be enjoyed by those with high blood sugar without harmful effect. The Rabbi date contains a variety of minerals (such as potassium, magnesium and protein), vitamins (such as vitamin A, vitamin B complex and vitamin C) and sugars (such as fructose). The calorie content of the Rabbi date is made up mostly of simple carbohydrates, some proteins and very little fat. 100g of dried Rabbi dates contains is made up of 70% carbohydrates, 2.2% protein and 0.6% fat and contains around 300 calories. Fresh date fruits, in comparison, contain around 160 calories. Rabbi dates can even help to prevent from various health conditions and diseases; they can help to prevent cancer of digestive system, improve gastrointestinal function, relieve nervous tensions, treat anaemia and lower blood pressure. They also contain only a trace amount of fat - leading them to be considered a low-fat, nutritious food. It should be noted, however, that overindulging on date fruit can cause weight gain due to their excessive sugar content (mostly simple sugars).
Seeds: Date fruit seeds are high in flavonoids and phenolic compounds, meaning they have value as an antioxidant. Date palm seeds also contain 0.56-5.4% lauric acid which can be chemically processed as a source of oxalic acid, whilst the oil from date palm seeds can be used in the production of soap and cosmetics. In addition, the seeds can be burned to make charcoal for silversmiths, strung into necklaces, ground and used as a replacement for coffee beans or added to coffee.
Uses: Like other dry or soft dates, Rabbi dates can be eaten directly out-of-hand or, for a twist, they can be seeded and stuffed with variety of different foodstuffs for different flavour combinations. They make a delicious addition to cereal, puddings, bread, cakes, cookies, ice cream or candy bars. Surplus dates from production are not wasted, being processed into cubes, paste, spread, powder (date sugar), jam, jelly, juice, syrup, vinegar and alcohol. Other products produced using Rabbi dates include palm sugar, chocolate, fruit bars and certain soft drinks. They are also a popular choice amongst diabetics because of their low and natural sugar.