From Tree to Jar — The Date Molasses Journey

Date cultivation is one of Peace Wadi’s ongoing projects. Volunteers have the opportunity to help tend to the many trees, which require constant loving supervision. In the arid Jordan Valley, water is a precious resource; consequently, regularly mending irrigation canals along the roots of the date trees is of the utmost importance. Pollination, which is done by hand, is another vital step in producing the sweet dates.

This aromatic date fruit can be enjoyed in many ways, one of which is date molasses. Date molasses has a dark amber color and a richly sweet flavor. It can be eaten with yogurt, mixed with tahini and served with naan bread, or simply by the spoonful.

Peace Wadi volunteers also have the opportunity to help create this sweet treat!  Want to make some at home?  All you need is dates, water, and a little bit of spare time to create this sticky sweet dessert all by yourself!

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One of our favorite uses for date molasses – mixed with tahini to create a sweet dip for apples!

Date Molasses Recipe:

Prep time: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Cook time: 3 hours

Ingredients:

-Dates

-Water

Materials:

-Two large pots

-Empty and clean flour bag with holes

-Large spoons

-Large shallow pan

-Potato masher or similar tool to mash dates

-Sanitized* glass jars and lids for storage

Instructions:

    1. Begin by collecting an ample amount of dates. One large stove pot filled halfway with pitted dates (about 5 lbs or 2.2 kg) will cook down to one large jar.
    2. Wash your dates and (optional step) remove the pits. Ensure all dates are free from little critters. Place all dates in a large pot.

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      Removing the pits from our dates

    3. Fill up the pot with water. All the dates should be fully covered in the water with at least an inch above the top of the dates– more water is better at this stage so you can really cook the dates and extract as much juice as possible. 
    4. Bring the water to a boil and cook for a minimum of 30 minutes but if you want to get the best molasses, cook for an hour or more. While you are waiting, you can enjoy some more dates as a snack!

      IMG_1743

      Our date-water mixture cooking down

    5. After you have cooked your dates to the desired consistency, allow the pot to cool down a bit. Pour the mixture into a shallow pan and mash the dates to help them release their juice.  When the mixture is cool enough to handle (but not cold), you are ready to begin the straining process.

      img_1747.jpg

      Our mashed date mixture just before beginning to strain

    6. Place the flour bag in a clean pot. Scoop some of the date mixture into the flour bag.img_2060.jpg
    7. Close the bag. Twist and strain the mixture, allowing the juices to run into the clean pot.  This job is easier if you have two people twisting opposite ends of the bag!  If you have a large amount of dates it may be easier to do this in two shifts, removing the dry date pulp and setting it aside.
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    8. Repeat the straining process until you have strained all the mixture. Your pot should be filled roughly ⅓ of the way with this new date juice.  You can either discard the dry date pulp or eat it (we suggest mixing it with granola or yogurt for a tasty snack!)
    9. Place the strained date juice back on the stove. Boil the juice, then simmer until the mixture thickens, about 40 minutes or more. Be sure to stir the mixture every 10 minutes to prevent sticking/burning. When the juice is almost done it will begin to bubble quite a lot and become increasingly sticky– you will need to stir it more at this stage to prevent burning at the bottom of the pan. After most of the water has cooked down, you can cook it down to a thicker molasses or leave it more liquid at this stage.
    10. Wait for the molasses to cool. Pour into a jar if desired.  Eat and enjoy!

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      Our beautiful finished molasses!

*To sanitize the glass jars and lids, simply soak and rinse them in hot soapy water, then boil in clean water for 10 minutes to ensure you store your molasses safely.

Date molasses can be stored at room temperature for up to a year or longer.  Do you have a favorite use for your date molasses?  Let us know in the comments below!  Happy cooking!

 

 

-The Date Molasses Trio (Rae, Kat, & Megan)

 

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