Dates seem to be having their time in the superfood spotlight. Full of potassium, iron, B vitamins, and fiber, this sweet fruit is being churned into paste and syrup, and even being dried and turned into sugar. Does date sugar rival its granulated counterparts when it comes to baked goods, and does it hold the same nutritional power as whole dates? We did some digging to learn all about how date sugar is made and how we can (and cannot) use date sugar in the kitchen.
What Is Date Sugar?
Date sugar is made with dehydrated dates that are ground to resemble granulated sugar. Because whole, pitted dates are used to make the sugar, the presence of fiber leaves a tiny grit to the sugar that won't dissolve in hot liquids or baked goods. It has a sweet, butterscotch-like flavor that's much more nuanced than brown sugar, although it shares a similar appearance.
What about date palm sugar?
Not to be confused with date sugar, date palm sugar, or just palm sugar, is made from the sap of the sugar palm tree. Just like cane sugar, the sugar palm sap is boiled down until the sap is dry and crystalized. It does not have the same nutritional profile as date sugar. It comes in both refined and unrefined granulated varieties, which can be used 1:1 in baking recipes. It is sometimes sold in cones similar to piloncillo sugar.
How to Use Date Sugar
You can use date sugar as a one-for-one replacement for granulated or brown sugar in baking recipes, but with a higher price tag, you'll find yourself saving it special occasions.
Try date sugar in a rub for pork or chicken, where its caramel flavor can really shine with just a small amount. Bake it in simple cookies where you can really taste its nuances and take advantage of the additional fiber. Use date sugar as a topping for muffins, your morning oatmeal, or to add caramel coloring to the top of your favorite pie.
Do you have a favorite use for date sugar? Tell us in the comments.