Dates are formed only on the female date palm, and each female flower must be dusted (by hand) with pollen from the male date palm flower. During the Kimri, or green stage, the dates are small and hard. In the Khalal stage, the dates begin to turn yellow (or red). As the intense August heat hastens ripening, we cover the dates with cloth or paper bags, to prevent birds from pecking them and shed any summer rain. Barhi and Mariana dates can be delicious at Khalal stage, crunchy like an apple. We sell them at farmers markets, still on the strands or on whole bunches. But if not very close to ripening, Khalal dates will pucker in your mouth like unripe persimmons.
Fruit enters the rutab stage when the tip of the date first begins to soften, turning amber or brown. When fully rutab, the dates are their softest, sweetest, and most delicate stage. They are hardest to handle and can spoil (and/or ferment!). We sell all varieties of dates in the rutab stage at farmer’s markets, usually in small containers, with advice to refrigerate whenever possible.
The final stage, tamar (tamarine in Hebrew) or cured, designates a fully ripened date, which has dried enough on the palm to be handled and shipped without spoiling. The longer it is left in the sun, the drier and chewier the fruit will become. We try to pick up all varieties in the early tamar stage, for maximum natural moisture content. If you prefer a drier date (ie. for hiking), let us know.