3 ways to tell if dates have been artificially sweetened

Dates sold at a market in Cairo, Egypt, in May 2018.
Dates sold at a market in Cairo, Egypt, in May 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

(THE JAKARTA POST) - Dates are commonly eaten to break fast around the world during Ramadan.

The sweetness of dates is believed to be a good source of energy without increasing blood sugar levels drastically. However, naturally sweet dates are, of course, different and healthier than the sweetened variety.

Ivan, a date vendor at Tanah Abang Market Block B, told KompasTravel that not all dates that were shiny and “wet” had been sweetened.

 “A lot of customers think that Tunisian wet dates use honey or sugar as a glaze so they are shiny.”

Here are several ways to tell the difference between naturally sweet dates and those that have been sweetened.

1. Check the sweetness level

Naturally sweet dates have just enough sweetness, while the sweetened ones tend to be overly sweet. “There is a variant of honey dates from Egypt that is very sweet by nature. However, the sweetness is consistent. Those that are sweetened don’t have the same consistency of sweetness,” Ivan said.

 

2. See if they attract ants

One of the basic ways to see whether dates have been sweetened is by placing them on an open counter at room temperature. If the dates attract ants, it means the dates are sweetened. “Boxed dates don’t guarantee the natural sweetness, as sometimes a branded box of dates attracts ants, while the cheaper variants don’t,” Ivan added.

3. Sweetness on the inside

The naturally sweet dates usually have an outer part that is not sweet at all, while the inner portion is sweet. Sweetened dates have an unnaturally sweet taste on the outside.