This miracle sweetener is the health industry’s newest darling.
Homemade Date Syrup is so easy to make, especially if you already have dates in the pantry. It’s the perfect substitute for liquid sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, but date syrup contains a lot more nutrition. In fact, date syrup contains 25% less sugar than honey, which is another reason to keep the honey for the bees.
Given the fact that dates are full of magnesium, potassium, and is high in antioxidants, it’s no wonder this miracle sweetener is the health industry’s newest darling. And the taste? It’s natural complexity and deep sweetness is completely void of bitter aftertaste. How nice it is to have such a sweet option when compared to other sugar alternatives.
Liquid Sweetener Super Hero’s Origin
Israel has been home to date syrup since before Christ. In fact, the Bible mentions dates as one of the first seven original food species native to the land during biblical times, along with wheat, barley, grapes, olives, figs, and pomegranates.
California updated the richness of this fruit by introducing Medjool sapling trees to Israel in the 1970’s. During the 80’s, dates became more popular in the U.S., but it seemed we had a strange relationship with them until now. Boxed cereals tried adding dried dates, but it never took off. Now, dried dates are sold in the produce section as well as the dried fruits section in your local grocery store.
How To Make Homemade Date Syrup
If dates aren’t already a staple in your life, you might want to consider them. As a snack, the energy, vitamins, and minerals they provide are unchartered. Instead of scrounging for sweets like cookies or stale granola bars, try eating dried dates instead to cure your sugar cravings. And if you’ve run out of honey, molasses, maple syrup, or even brown sugar, making homemade date syrup is an easy substitute.
To get a half-cup of syrup, all you need is a cup of dates, three cups of water, a small pot, cheesecloth, a potato masher, and a stove. That’s it! After boiling the dates for about twenty minutes, drain them and mash them with a potato masher in the pot used for boiling. Transfer the mixture to a piece of cheesecloth that can fully envelope the dates and squeeze the cloth over the pot. You’re going to want to run a rubber spatula across the underside to grab all that good stuff, too.
Then, repeat the process. Add a quarter or so more water to your squeezed date mixture and boil it again just for good measure. Squeeze the pulp one more time into the first batch of virgin syrup, then simmer it for a good 45 minutes until the syrup begins to reduce, thicken, and darken. Just like that, you can say you make your own unrefined sugar!
How To Use This Liquid Sweetener
As mentioned before, date syrup can be used in any recipe calling for a sweetener, especially a liquid version. Top off yogurt bowls, oatmeal, avocado toast, or salads (it’s especially good with a watermelon and feta salad!). Paired with tahini, date syrup becomes the jam in the Israeli version of peanut butter and jelly. So try it with nut butter on a piece of bread.
Here in California, we have cold date shakes, which satisfy milk-shake cravings in the summer. All along our highways through the Central Valley, you’ll see signs posted for date shakes. If you go to Coachella, you gotta stop and get one. And if you can’t go to Coachella, you can always create your own version at home!
Homemade Date Syrup
- 20 dates pitted
- 3 cups water
- Give dates a quick rinse to clean them.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer dates and water for 15-20 minutes.
- Strain water from pot and mash the dates with a potato masher.
- Line a strainer with cheese-cloth or clean tea towel. Make sure to use enough cloth so that you can wrap it around the date mixture and twist a little on top, similar to how you’d twist a bag full of something. Place cheesecloth over a bowl. Add the date mash to the cheesecloth, bring the cheesecloth to a twisting close, and then squeeze everything out. Get a rubber spatula to remove the remaining syrup on the outside of the cheesecloth.
- Add the date purée back to the pot and pour about a quarter cup of water to the pulp. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 if you would like more syrup made.
- Finally, pour all the extracted juice from pulp into the pan, and simmer over low heat for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The color should turn from a golden honey to a darker brown. The product is ready when you can draw a line on the back of a dipped spoon and the top portion doesn’t bleed immediately into the bottom.
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