Date syrup is a thick, caramel-colored sweetener made from dates. You may have seen it on the shelves in your local health food store, as many cooks embrace it as an alternative sweetener. Date syrup is incredibly easy to make at home, can be more affordable than store-bought, and has the lush caramel hue and heady date flavor of its namesake fruit.
Here is everything you need to know about making date syrup at home.
The Best Dates for Date Syrup
Medjool dates are ideal for making date syrup. These soft, caramel-colored dates are easy to chop, soak, and purée for maximum sugar extraction (aka maximum flavor). Common Deglet Noor dates certainly work too, although you may find that they need a longer soak after boiling to soften.
Barhi dates are also reportedly incredible for making date syrup at home, but are difficult to find outside date-growing states. Plus, if I can get my hands on some, I prefer to eat them out of hand.
Concentrating Date Syrup
Date syrup is made by boiling chopped dates, puréeing the cooked dates, and squeezing out their liquid, leaving a thick paste you can save for other uses (more on that below). The date liquid after straining is quite thin (thinner than maple syrup), but quite flavorful. Most people prefer to cook the thin liquid to a thick honey-like consistency, not just for more flavor, but also because the reduced water content makes the syrup better for baking.
On Date Paste
You can and should save the paste left after puréeing and straining the dates. This date paste will be slightly less sweet than the original dates, but you can add a few tablespoons of the date syrup back to the paste to smooth it out. Spread this jammy paste on toast, bake it into breads, or swirl it into warm oatmeal.
Storing and Using Homemade Date Syrup
Date syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. Use it where you might use maple syrup or honey — on warm pancakes, waffles, biscuits, or oatmeal. Add it to smoothies for sweetening. It is also incredible in coffee where the caramel flavor really shines.
For baking: You need to use less date syrup when replacing granulated sugar —a ratio of 2/3 cup date syrup for every 1 cup of sugar — and less liquid in the recipe. Or simply replace honey, maple syrup, or molasses with date syrup in baking recipes for a more caramel-like flavor that only dates can impart.
Health food proponents prefer raw date syrup, which is made by simply soaking and puréeing whole dates. Because this form of "date syrup" still contains the fiber from the fruit, it imparts some texture to baked goods and drinks. You can use the ratio below to try this, but you won't get the same syrupy texture of the cooked syrup.
How To Make Date Syrup
Makes about 2 cups
What You Need
dried Medjool dates, pitted
Blender or food processor
Lidded jar for storage
Cut the dates: Coat the blades of kitchen shears with a thin swipe of oil. Use the shears to finely "chop" the dates.
Simmer the dates: Place the dates and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cool the mixture: Remove from the heat and cool for 30 minutes.
Purée the mixture: Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor fitted with the blade attachment and blend until very smooth, at least 1 minute.
Strain the mixture: Line a fine-mesh strainer with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Pour the date purée through. Once all the pulp is in the strainer, pull the sides of the cheesecloth together and twist to press out as much syrup as possible.
Reduce the date syrup (optional): Taste your date syrup and determine if it is sweet enough for you. To thicken, return the syrup to a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool before storing.
Storage: Date syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few weeks.