Great, you’ve got some dates. Full of fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants, dates make for a tasty snack or a good base for energy balls.
But your packet of dates is already open and you’ve found yourself wondering: do dates go bad?
What’s the bottom line?
The bad news is that dates do go bad.
The good news is that you can find out if your dates are still edible, as well as how to store them so they don’t go bad, below.
How To Tell If Dates Have Gone Bad
Are your dates off? It’s not hard to tell. The signs are:
- Discoloration, especially if the date has gone significantly darker in color.
- Bugs – if you’re unsure about your dates, slice them open first!
- Smell – your dates should smell sweet, but if they start smelling foul, it’s time for the bin.
You’ll find various sources on the internet claiming you can chuck one moldy or discolored date out and eat the rest. But do this at your own peril – we certainly wouldn’t recommend it!
You might be wondering: what’s that white grainy film on my dates? This film will probably look like white specks, and it’s nothing to worry about. The specks are caused by the dates’ high sugar content, which can rise to the surface.
In fact, approximately 64% of the weight of a dried date is sugar! Whilst you should enjoy these sweet treats in moderation, they are remarkably nutritious. Dates boast high protein and potassium, a mineral essential for building muscle.
How To Store Dates
To protect your dates’ shelf life once opened, make sure you store them properly. There are three options.
One option is to store dates in a dry, dark place like a cupboard or pantry. Otherwise, you can put dates in the fridge.
Freezing is another option. If you need to store dates for under three months, place them in a freezer bag and pop them in the freezer. Any longer than that and you’d be better off wrapping the dates in aluminum foil, then bagging them, before putting your double-wrapped dates in the freezer.
Exactly which storage method you use should be determined by the type of date, which we will cover below. However, if you’re ever in doubt, you can’t go wrong with simply storing your dates in the fridge. Whatever type your dates are, a cool temperature will allow your dates to hold onto their texture and delicious flavor.
Different Types Of Dates
How you store your dates and how long they last depend on their ripeness.
Khalal dates are green and unripe. Some people do eat them, but you’re unlikely to find these in the supermarket. These only last for about a week, and you’ll need to either refrigerate or freeze them.
Rutab dates are freshly ripe, sweet, and juicy with a thin skin. They should be kept in the fridge once opened, in an airtight container. Once they are, they will be good to snack on for up to 3 months.
Tamar dates, like Medjools, are the dried dates that you’re probably most familiar with. These are dried, so they last up to 3 months in an airtight container in the cupboard and up to a year in the fridge.
Want to know the best part? Tamar dates last up to 3 years in the freezer. Make sure you separate them into portion sizes for easy access!
Remember: always check the best before and expiry dates, no matter your type of date. For example, even though Tamar dates last the longest because they’re dried, for this reason, they have likely been sat on a shelf for months already!
Unfortunately, dates do go bad. However, there are plenty of ways to extend how long your dates will last, including double-wrapping them in the freezer and opting for dried dates over unripe dates.
If you do this, dates can last for up to 3 years!