Date Paste Recipe: Sweeten your food with whole fruit
I get asked a lot what the healthiest sweetener is and my answer is always any sweet whole food still pretty much in it’s original form. I think anything that’s been extracted and heavily processed and preserved isn’t going to be anywhere near as healthy as a whole fruit such as dates. Dates are so good for you as they contains loads of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium and are great for constipation and weight loss. A perfect post-holiday addition to your diet!
This is my 100th post on my website and I’m excited about the fact that I’ve also just had the 1000th person sign up for updates via email and the Green Thickies Facebook page has also just reached 1500 likes. So I wanted to thank all of you for your support and want to try and give more time back to my website now that I’m feeling a bit better and into the second trimester of my pregnancy. (If you haven’t already you can read why I had to stop drinking green smoothies during my pregnancy). Don’t worry I’m almost at the stage where I’m ready to start drinking green smoothies again and I have loads of lovely recipes that I’ve already created just waiting for me to share with you. I also want to start posting more recipes about making individual ingredients that you can add to your smoothies such as coconut milk, almond milk, coconut butter, peanut butter and healthy sweeteners. So what better way to start the new year than with a healthy way to sweeten all your recipes. Enter the date paste.
What is Date Paste?
I used to put whole dates, raisins or any dried fruit straight into my smoothie but now I generally just use Date Paste. This is also referred to as date syrup or date honey. It is basically just pureed dates. You can buy it which saves you the hassle of making it but it won’t be as fresh as making it yourself. I like to make my own as it’s cheaper and healthier. It also blends much easier and saves time pitting dates every time you make a smoothie.
5 Ways to make Date Paste
There are several ways to make date puree, you can:
- Use a blender: You may need to use quite a lot of water with the dates, and this is easier with high speed blenders.
- Use a food processor which uses less water than a blender but the date paste won’t be as smooth.
- Use a pestle and mortar: This is great for small quantities of date paste but requires a bit more effort.
- Hob method: Simmer pre-blended date paste in a pan to reduce the amount of water content in it, or you can simmer first and then process once it’s cooled.
- Use a fork: See my previous Date Syrup recipe for instructions on how to leave your date syrup to pretty much make itself in the fridge!
How long can I store Date Paste for
Date paste will keep for at least a week in the fridge and about 3 months in the freezer. I usually make a large mason jar’s worth every couple of weeks and it seems to last fine for this length of time. I would advise you to make this in bulk as if you’re like me you’ll soon be using this in everything! What foods can I use Date Paste in? Any liquid sweetener (honey, agave nectar, maple syrup) in most recipes can be replaced with date paste. I use date paste in pretty much everything including:
- Smoothies/ Green Thickies
- Ice cream/Sundaes
- Cakes/ Pies/ Muffins/Sweet pastry
- Savoury dishes such as stews or beans
- Homemade peanut butter
- Homemade healthy Chocolates
- Homemade bread
- Porridge/ Oatmeal
- Granola/ Cereal
- Add it to hot drinks such as cocoa/ hot chocolate/ tea/ coffee
- Salad dressings
- Baked/ Stewed fruit
What type of dates should I use?
Use any type of dates that you like but make sure there are non added ingredients as sometimes dates are coated with syrup to make them look shiny. Fresh whole dates are the healthiest as they are the freshest but personally I use dried pitted dates as I get through so many of them. I buy them in bulk on Amazon.
How much date paste should I add to my recipes
If you are making baked goods I would replace the liquid sweetener with exactly the same amount of date syrup as it may alter the consistency if you change the quantity of wet ingredients. However for other recipes you might be able to experiment with the quantity a bit more. For smoothies and recipes where it’s easy to adjust the amounts I would just add the date paste to taste. The date paste is watered down with water so it may not be quite as sweet as other sweeteners, so you might need to add more if you want it a bit sweeter. My green thickie recipes usually call for between 1/4 and 1/2 a cup of dates. I would add in exactly the same amount of date paste but you can easily adjust this.
Optional extras for your date paste
To make a gorgeous tasting sweetener you could include any one of the following ingredients:
- Pinch of salt
- Cinnamon/Nutmeg/Mixed Spice/ Ground cloves/ Ginger
- Lemon/ Lime juice or zest
- Almond/ Mint/ Orange essence
- Cocoa/ Cacao/ Carob powder
- 2 cups of pitted dates Soaked in
- 2 cups of water (keep the soak water and follow the directions below)
- Soak the 2 cups of dates in 2 cups of water overnight or for at least 8 hours. Keep the soaking water for the recipe.
- *FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD*
- Drain the dates but reserve the dates and add them to the food processor with just enough water (start with 2 tablespoons) and process until it's as smooth as you can get, scraping down the sides as needed.
- *BLENDER METHOD*
- Add the dates and just enough water to blend the dates until smooth. Start with 1 cup of the reserved date soaking water.
- *PESTLE & MORTAR METHOD*
- Add just enough dates for the recipe you need with a splash of water if required. Use some muscle power to grind the dates into as smooth a paste as you can manage.
- *HOB METHOD*
- If you want your finished date paste to include less water you can either blend the dates with the soaking liquid in a blender then simmer in a saucepan until the paste has reduced. Or you can add the dates with the liquid straight to the pan, simmer until the water has reduced and then leave to cool and process with the food processor until as smooth as you can get it.