I’ve never been a huge fan of dates (either the social or the foodstuff variety), but for a couple or three weeks every year, I go date crazy. Forget everything you think you know about dates. These little darlings have the crunch of an apple, the astringency of quince (at least at first), and the sweetness of honey at the back of the palate. For about one more week this season, depending on where you live, you may have access to these lovely little gems, and I most heartily recommend picking a few up, if only for the experience of tasting something you likely have never tasted before. According to a couple of the local growers (and this thesis was supported by a manager at Hadley’s, a date mecca on the road to Palm Springs), these not-quite-fully-ripe dates are known as “blondies,” and most of them are shipped off to Japan, where they fetch top dollar… or top yen. If you leave them to hang around, their sugar content increases, their skin softens, and they turn into the dates you know and love (or don’t depending on your taste).
I pickled a bunch of them a couple of weeks ago, and I’m curious as to how they will taste when they are ready. Stay tuned. In the interim, go and find your own blondie.