Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits - it's thought that they were a staple part of the Babylonian diet 8,000 years ago. Grown in North Africa and Asia, there are several varieties, but only a handful are exported.
Colours range from honey yellow, red to brown, the last of which is the most common.
Available fresh or dried, they're very sweet, with a rich, deep flavour and a lush, slightly chewy texture. The mahogany brown Medjool variety is the sweetest, and tastes a little like toffee.