Barhi Dates, Delightful either Fresh or Ripe

Posted by OmarTarakiNiodeFoundation
31 July 2014 | blogpost

Dates, the Jewels of Ramadan is our first blog post on dates, mentioning Ajwa, Medjool and Bateel as the most popular, at least in Indonesia.

Recently during the fasting month we received an interesting email about Indian Barhi Dates, from A.R. Sharma, a partner at Gorasiya Farm in India.

Native to the Middle East, it was brought to India more than 10 years ago, while it entered the United States and has been cultivated there since the early 1900s.

Delicious in any stage

Barhi dates, quite popular during the holy month of Ramadan is yellowish golden in color upon ripening, and tastes like apple when eaten fresh.

Charles Anderson, a fourth generation date farmer, says: while most dates are only edible when ripe, the Barhi can be enjoyed in three different stages of development, the traditional tamar (ripe), rutab (part ripe, part yellow) and khalal (yellow) stage.

The Kitchn, a daily web magazine devoted to home cooking and kitchen design, describes Barhi as nature’s candy that tastes like butterscotch candy. At the rutab stage of ripeness, skins of the Barhi dates are thin and crackling, giving way to a smooth, creamy interior that tastes like brown sugar and caramel.

Adel A. Kader from the University of California, Davis discusses the maturity indices of dates in general. The khalal stage is astringent (high tannin content) while the rutab and tamar stages (when most dates are harvested) have much greater levels of sugar, lower moisture and tannin content, and softer than the khalal stage dates.

The Gorasiya Farm

The Gorasiya Farm, the first and biggest farm in India to cultivate Barhi dates, is located in western India, where the desert climate and sandy soil is suitable for date production. It started agriculture practices from a small farm in Mankuva village, where the farmers’ ancestors used to grow sugarcane and mangoes.

Currently, the Gorasiya Farm has around 5500 dates palm planted in a total area of 120 acres of land. The season for fresh dates begins from July and lasts till end of August with annual production of Barhi dates in the range of 1000 metric tons depending upon season and weather conditions.

Gorasiya sends almost 50% of the produce to UK, Holland, Germany and Italy. It is also receiving some enquires from the other parts of Europe, trying to enter the market of Middle East, and exploring the chances to get into China market.

Fresh dates by Andeson

In the United States, one of Barhi Dates producers is Fresh Dates By Anderson. This family business began in 1919 when Lee Anderson Sr. created a farm where there was once nothing but sand and sagebrush in the ruggedness of the Coachella Valley desert in Southern California.

Today the Anderson Farm sells Barhi in all three edible stages. They are shipped to stores across the United States and can be found in Washington, New York, Florida and Michigan. Harvest for the Barhi starts in mid August and runs for six weeks. The dates sell out fast, hence if customers are interested in purchasing Barhi they are advised to check the Fresh Dates by Anderson website or stop by the farm in September to have the freshest dates.

To ripen fresh Barhi Dates, Yvonne Maffei of My Halal Kitchen says: simply place them in a breathable container or bag on your counter for a few days and watch each date ripen on its own time. If you wrap in plastic, they could produce mold, since that reduces the amount of air circulating around them.

Safe for diabetics

Although the Barhi is extremely sweet, research suggest, as noted by Charles Anderson, that the Barhi dates consist of invert sugar, which makes them safe to eat for diabetics unlike the Deglet, which consist of mostly cane sugar.

On savoring the Barhi dates Yvonne Maffei writes: Quite honestly, they’re the most pleasurable (to me) with a good tiny cup of Arabic kahwa. It always feels like Ramadan when the two are seen together

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Images: Dr. Ayay Kumar Singh/123rf. Gorasiya Farm, Fresh Dates by Anderson