Can Dates Go Bad or Actually Expire? (How Long Do They Last?)

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Did you know that dates are considered the oldest cultivated fruit in the world? This is because they’ve found fossil evidence that indicates this fruit already existed 50 million years ago! (*)

Mind-blowing, right?

This simple fact will make you wonder: Considering how long dates have been in this world, do dates go bad?

  • Bad news: Dates can go bad.  
  • Good news: There are plenty of ways to prevent them from going bad. To know what these ways are, keep on reading!

In this article, we’ll also share the answers to the following questions:

If you’re ready to iron out the wrinkles on the dates issue, let’s get cracking!

Do Dates Go Bad?

To put it simply, dates can go bad. The good news is the shelf life of dates is a lot longer than most fruits.

For a long time, these keep pretty well that the most common causes of dates go bad or show signs of spoilage are contamination or improper storage.

How Long Do Dates Last?

The shelf life of dates varies depending on the type of date you have, the stage of ripeness, and how it’s stored.

To be honest, there are about a thousand dates varieties available worldwide, so we’ll narrow down the shelf life information to the two most common types: Medjool Dates and Deglet Noor Dates.

  • Fun Fact: As a rule of thumb, soft dates (Medjool dates) have a shorter shelf life than semi-dry dates (Deglet Noor Dates). This is because the presence of moisture will speed up the spoilage process.

On the other hand, dates undergo three stages of ripeness—Khalal, Rutab, and Tamar. To help you understand the shelf life for each ripening stage, check out this table:

Stage of Ripeness Dates
  • Pro Tip: Regardless of the type and stage of ripeness, it’s always important to check the expiry date when buying dates so you can determine if the package has been sitting on the grocery shelf for months.

How to Tell if Dates Have Gone Bad?

There will be times when dates will go bad faster than expected. Spoiled dates are byproducts of contamination or exposure to air and moisture, which may be due to improper storage.

So how do you know if the dates have gone bad? Here are the signs to watch out for:

1. Discoloration and Mold Growth

Khalal dates are yellowish, while Rutab dates and Tamar dates are dark brown. If your dates already have darker or feature colors other than those we’ve mentioned, they might have spoiled already.

Or worse, the rotten dates have molds already. If that’s the case, you need to throw it out immediately.

2. Bad Smell

Dates have a delicate and mild fragrance, so if you noticed a strong, off-putting smell when you opened your bag of dates, consider it as a warning that your dates have already gone bad, so you should discard them as soon as possible.

3. Sticky and Slimy Texture

Even if you have semi-dry to soft dates, it’s not normal for dates to have a sticky and slimy texture, so this is a clear indication of spoilage.

4. Contamination

Unfortunately, dates contamination is not just bacterial; it also includes pest and bug contamination. This is because fruit flies might lay eggs or leave behind larva and other droppings on your dates.

A common indicator of pest and bug contamination is small brown specks (similar to the appearance of sawdust).

  • Pro Tip: We recommend that you break the dates open instead of biting into them so you can check for any contamination before eating them.

How to Store Dates?

To prevent the dates from spoiling, you should learn how to store dates properly. There are 3 ways on how to store dates. We’ve shared what these are below:

  • Pro Tip: The longer you want to store your dates, the colder the storage environment.

1. Storing dates in your pantry

If you plan on consuming the dates within a month or so, it’s okay to keep them at room temperature.

When storing dates in your pantry or kitchen cupboard, there’s only one tip you should keep in mind: keep it tightly sealed.

You can do this by storing dates in a plastic or airtight container and placing it in a cool and dry place. This is the best way to protect your dates from moisture, bug contamination, and oxidation.

2. Storing dates in the refrigerator

The best way to retain their moisture and extend their shelf life is to refrigerate dates.

When storing the dates in the refrigerator, we recommend putting them in a resealable plastic bag. Make sure to squeeze out air as much as possible before sealing the bag tightly.

3. Storing dates in the freezer

Yes, you can freeze dates. We recommend freezing dates if you wish to buy dates in bulk and preserve them for later use, as frozen dates can last for up to 3 years.

Same with refrigerating dates, you can also place dates in resealable freezer-safe bags when placing them in the freezer.

  • Pro Tip: Make sure to leave space between dates because dates will expand once frozen.

…and a few more related questions about dates!

How to thaw frozen dates?

If you decide to freeze dates, you need to thaw them before using them. There are two ways on how to thaw dates.

First, you can leave the frozen dates (still in the freezer bag) at room temperature for around 5 hours.

The second option is to submerge the bag of frozen dates in a bowl with warm water.

My dates have developed a white cast. Is it still safe to eat them?

Yes, you can still eat those dates! The white cast or film on the dates is its crystallized sugar (due to its high sugar content) which rises to the dates’ surface as it loses moisture.

  • Pro Tip: To remove the sugar specs in your dates, just put the dates in sunlight for a couple of hours. Another good tip is to place dates in a resealable bag, add a few drops of water then microwave it for 30 seconds.

Final Words

Do dates go bad? Unfortunately, dates can go bad. Dates shelf-life range from one week (Khalal Dates) to a few months (Rubab Dates and Tamar dates).

If you want to extend its shelf life, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose dry dates over unripe dates.
  • Freeze dates.

When you do this, dates can last for up to 3 years! Yes, it’s that simple.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, buy your dates, and make sure to store them properly so you can enjoy them for longer.

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Up Next: Your Common Food Ingredient’s Shelf Life – A Comprehensive Guide By Groups

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