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Do Dates Go Bad? How Long Do They Last?

Dates are one of the oldest foods in the human diet.

They are a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine as a sweet, fibrous, and slightly chewy addition to many dishes. And they have recently made a raging comeback in healthy food recipes.

Dates, like all fruit, will eventually go bad if left long enough. But unlike other fruit, dried dates will last longer if properly stored — even as long as a year!

Fresh Dates and Dried Dates

Dates appear in stores along several stages of their post-harvest life.

  • Immediately after harvest, dates are plump and glossy with mild wrinkles
  • Ripe dates are glossy with high fiber and a sticky sweet flavor

Freshly harvested dates are found in the produce section of grocery stores, they will go bad more quickly.

fresh dry red dates

The longer they sit, the drier they become. As dates age, they become increasingly dehydrated and wrinkled. Their skin shrivels up, and spots of white sugar begin forming (crystalizing) on the outside.

Whether they have just been harvested or have aged into a wrinkly little morsel, they are safe and enjoyable to eat.

Some popular date varieties are medjool and deglet noor. Medjool dates are large and light in color, whereas deglet noor dates are small and darker in color.

Medjool dates are generally sweeter than deglet noor dates, although the amount of sugar in the two varieties is very similar. You can store both kinds of dates in the same way.

You may like: 11 Medjool Dates Substitutes

How Long Do Dates Last?

Do dates go bad? You may even wonder if dried dates go bad or if dates go bad if refrigerated.

Dates

Pantry

Fridge

Mazafati

1 to 3 months

6 months

Sayer

6 months

12 months

Zahedi

18 months

24 months

Rabbi

12 months

18 months

If left out on the pantry, dates will last between one and three months. If stored in an airtight container in the fridge, dates can last up to a year. The longer a date sits, the more dry and wrinkled they become.

The softer and plumper the date is, the fresher it is. As a result, it will go rotten sooner and should be enjoyed sooner. The higher water content in ripe dates makes them more susceptible to harmful molds and yeasts that cause the date to rot sooner.

The more wrinkled a date is, the older and drier it is. These will last longer but will continue to dry out, which will change the texture but won’t affect the flavor.

How To Tell if the Dates Are Bad

dried dates fruit

You should not keep dates if they have passed their package’s expiration date.

When shopping for dates, make sure to also visually inspect the packaging for damage. Any holes or tears in the package is a sign of bad dates.

In addition to the package, make sure the dates inside aren’t visible damaged. Any crushed, torn, or moldy spots on the dates is a sign to stay away!

Once you’ve purchased dates, there are a few cues of a date gone bad:

  • They are moldy
  • They have darkened
  • They smell rotten
  • They taste bad
  • Critters got to them

Here is a quick note on dates: white patches appearing on the skin are probably not mold — it’s sugar! As dates dry out, sugar crystals form on the outside of the skin. This means the date is dry, but it’s still fine to eat.

Sugar crystals will not change the taste of the date, but they will change the texture and appearance.

How To Store Dates? 5 Useful Tips

chinese dates

At Room Temperature

You can store dates at room temperature, but they will not last as long. If stored at room temperature, they should be kept in an airtight container.

If the container they came in is resealable, you can use it to store your dates. Other good options are glass jars, plastic bags, or wrapped in plastic.

In the Fridge

If you want to make the dates last longer, you can keep them in the fridge.

But still, keep your dates in an airtight container. Dates will dry out much faster when exposed to the open air in the refrigerator.

Freeze Them

For even longer storage, you can freeze dates. At times, it is advantageous to buy your dates in bulk because they will last a long time when frozen. Dates thaw well, so you can set out the amount you want and keep the rest frozen.

Keep the Environment Clean

Keep in mind the cleanliness of your fridge, pantry, or wherever your dates are stored.

If you keep dates in a moldy fridge, they can be infected and are subject to growing mold as well. This is especially true if kept in a non-airtight container.

Stay Away from Odorous Foods

Similarly, avoid storing dates next to odorous foods like garlic and onions. Dates can absorb these odors and develop a funky taste.

What Happens If You Eat a Bad Date?

dried dates

Some food, like blue cheese, is meant to be moldy and is perfectly fine to eat. Dates aren’t blue cheese though, so don’t eat them if they’re growing mold.

If you do happen to chomp into a moldy date, don’t worry. In most instances, the worst thing that will happen is you have a yucky taste in your mouth. You will most likely not get sick [1].

In more severe cases, eating a moldy date will result in vomiting and diarrhea. If you are nauseous for more than a day, you should see a doctor.

So, When Do Dates Go Bad?

Dates are a secret sweet ingredient found in many healthy recipes [2] trending on the internet, but they’re also delicious to eat on their own!

Unlike their fellow fruits, dates will last a long time. Dates mostly go bad due to environmental factors before they age to a point where they can’t be eaten.

A date will go bad if stored in a moldy environment — next to other molded food in the fridge, for instance. If they don’t develop mold, dates will continue to dry out and form sugar crystals on their skin which affects texture but not flavor.

As long as the date isn’t moldy, rotten, smells bad, or exposed to critters it is fine to eat.

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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