Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oasis Date Gardens- Coachella Valley

Tuesday - Dec. 22nd

We tasted about a dozen different varieties of dates here and bought a few.

95% of the dates in the U.S. are raised in the Coachella Valley. They are irrigated with canal water from the Colorado River. There is one male tree to every 49 female trees and they must all be hand polinated. Only the female trees produce fruit, up to 300 pounds each. Dates keep one month on the shelf, 4 to 6 months in the refrigerator or they can be frozen.

Large amounts are sold each year for Ramadan, when the Muslims fast everyday for a month from sun up to sun down. Muhammad supposedly broke fast each day with dates and water, so it is tradition. Ramadan comes earlier every year on the western calendar, so the dates will not be ripe this year in time. They will have to use frozen ones from last year, which the date companies had anticipated, and froze a good supply ahead. Dates are the oldest cultivated tree in the world dating back to 3,000 B.C. in the Persian countries (Iraq, Egypt, etc.). They aren't started from seeds, but from shoots that come off the old trees. They got their start in this country in the early 1900s. The palm fronds are shaped like feathers, as are banana palms. Some palm fronds are more of a round shape like a fan with a long handle.
The dates are covered to protect them until they ripen. We are heading for the Salton Sea and the Chocolate Mountains today. Who knew there were chocolate mountains? Sounds like heaven to me.

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