Harvesting season for dates (a symbolic fruit in Moroccan & Islamic culture) 

We all love to eat luscious plump dates. They are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and keep for months without refrigeration. Dates are the fruit of a desert palm tree that has been cultivated for a very long time. Harvesting takes place from October to November. Morocco’s date season is even marked by an annual event which is « the Festival of Dates ». The harvesters usually carry out the dates by hand as the fruit is best when it ripens on the tree.

Thinning” is another harvesting method which is done two or three times a week. The workers shake the fruit bag so that ripe dates will fall into a large basket below. Dates have a sacred significance in Morocco. Moroccans break the fast with dates following the instruction of the prophet Mohamed. Indeed, the prophet used to break the fast with them during Ramadan.

One of the finest of the world: 

The most commonly consumed dates in Morocco are Medjool dates, Algerian Stuffed dates, and Halawi dates. 
It is a soft, sweet date with a velvety flavour. As the date dries, the sugars become more concentrated and produce a sweeter, refined flavour. 
The Medjool is one of the finest variety in the world because of its fragility. In fact it was fed only to the kings and Sultans in medieval times.

The tree of life

At our Fez Cooking School you learn how to cook a variety of dishes with fresh, dried or stuffed dates. Moroccans eat them chopped up in salads and sandwiches. It is also common to pit and stuff the dates with different nuts, like almonds, pistachios or pecans. Date palms are highly valued in hot countries because they provide abundant food in very harsh places. No wonder they are described as the “tree of life.”

Liz Hoggard

Journalist and author