There are numerous varieties of date available, they come in all different shapes, sizes, textures, sweetness, juiciness and moistness. With so much choice, it can be difficult to decide which ones to buy and your choice may be related to what you want to use them for, the time of year, if you like to eat them fresh, where they are grown or even your mood.

Medjool dates are by far the most popular dates as they are known for being moist, large, soft and sweet but just because they are popular doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy others. Just like a wine connoisseur does not just drink his favorite wine, the date connoisseur enjoys multiple varieties of date.

So you want to be an expert on dates? Of course everyone has their preferences but here are some tips to selecting the best dates:

Use your eyes – Look at them carefully, do they look fresh? The date should be plump and shiny, this is a sign of freshness and that they are succulent. A few wrinkles are okay but make sure they are not all shriveled up. On the other hand make sure that they don’t look like they are oozing juices out of them.

Sense of touch – Feel them, give them a little prod or squeeze. Do they feel moist or hard? If they are too firm, they will be dry, too squishy and they are just going to be mush in your mouth.

Abnormalities – Look out for white spots on the skin. These are a sign of sugar crystallization, which means that they are getting old. If you have dates that have started to crystallize they are fine to eat and may be quite delicious but don’t buy them already suffering from this condition because they won’t last very long.

Storage – For dates to remain fresh they need to be correctly stored. Airtight containers are a great way to store them and stop them from crystallizing. They can also be stored in the refrigerator and if you really want to keep them for a long time, you can try the freezer. Because of their sugar content, they won’t freeze completely but they will keep fresh for up to a year. Also consider how they are being stored in the shop or market. If they are piled up in a beautiful open mountain, ready for you to scoop you need to find out how long they have been there. Also check carefully every date because some unscrupulous store holders will hide older dates under the beautiful fresh ones. Choose your dates personally or buy a well sealed box.

Experiment – Don’t be wary of trying different dates. Everyone has different tastes and preferences. Some people have a sweet tooth and love really sweet dates that may be way too sweet for others. Some people like their dates as moist as possible whilst some people find that texture unsettling.

Choosing the perfect date is really not that difficult. Find a good supplier from a good date growing country such as Tomer Medjoul Dates in Israel. Use your senses and your common sense and you will come out of the shop with a package of dates that you will really enjoy snacking on.