Date Puree (Whole Foods Sugar Replacement)

Date Puree
Print Recipe
Thanks to a delicious honey/brown sugar flavor, date puree makes a surprisingly excellent sugar substitute. It can be used to replace some (or even all) the sugar in many recipes, or to replace sugar in everyday sweetening. Mix it with plain yogurt, use it in your morning oatmeal, or mix a little with some natural (unsweetened) peanut butter to make a yummy apple dip. The possibilities are endless!
Prep Time
10 minutes
Passive Time
15 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Passive Time
15 minutes
Date Puree
Print Recipe
Thanks to a delicious honey/brown sugar flavor, date puree makes a surprisingly excellent sugar substitute. It can be used to replace some (or even all) the sugar in many recipes, or to replace sugar in everyday sweetening. Mix it with plain yogurt, use it in your morning oatmeal, or mix a little with some natural (unsweetened) peanut butter to make a yummy apple dip. The possibilities are endless!
Prep Time
10 minutes
Passive Time
15 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Passive Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
  • dates pitted, any variety
  • hot water enough to cover dates (hottest water from your tap is fine)
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Put desired number of dates in a bowl and cover in hot water for 5-15 minutes, until dates are soft and mushy. If the water has cooled and dates are still not mushy, dump water out, cover again with hot water for 5-15 minutes. Repeat until you are confident dates will blend easily. The skin should be falling off and almost disintegrating.
  2. Drain soaking water and reserve. It can be used to replace other liquids in recipes/smoothies for a little extra sweetness (you will need it if you're making the Oatmeal Breakfast Cupcakes recipe).
  3. Place dates into a food processor or blender. Add a bit of the soaking water (about 2 tablespoons). Use less rather than more. If you use too much, the puree will be too diluted and runny.
  4. Process/blend the dates, adding a very small amount of water if necessary to get them to blend (use as little as possible). After a minute or so of processing, the result should be a mostly smooth paste similar in thickness to peanut butter.
  5. Store puree in fridge up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 2 months. Soaking water can also be stored in fridge up to 2 weeks.
Recipe Notes

How to Use in Recipes: While you can sub date puree for sugar 1:1 in recipes, it's important to know that sugar is sweeter. Most sweet recipes tolerate replacing 1/2 to 3/4 of the sugar in a recipe with date puree. It is more challenging to do a total substitution for a no-sugar-added result (we succeeded with our Oatmeal Breakfast Cupcakes, but leaned heavily on a combination of other sweetening tricks listed in Healthful Sweetening 101). Since sugar is dry and date puree isn't, you may need to adjust the liquid content of more sensitive recipes.

When won't date puree work instead of sugar? It doesn't dissolve or melt like most added sugars do. This rules out sweetening coffee, tea and other beverages (blended beverages would be fine). It also would be a total fail in traditional candy recipes (start with whole dates and use our easy Coconut Date Truffles recipe instead). We have not yet attempted using it in yeast bread instead of sugar to feed the yeast, or replacing sugar in savory recipes like spaghetti sauce. If you give it a try, let us know!

Where to Buy Dates: During the fall and holiday season, Medjool dates (which are softest and tastiest) are generally available in most supermarkets, while the more standard dates are available year round. From what we've seen, Trader Joe's and Grocery Outlet have lower prices on Medjool dates than elsewhere. However, other date varieties are cheaper, and we were satisfied with the outcome regardless of the type of date we tested. Least expensive local options would be pitted dates in the WinCo bulk section (under $4/lb.) or packages of pitted dates at Grocery Outlet ($2.99 for 10 oz.)

What about other dried fruit? It's possible to substitute other dried fruit for dates, although the flavor would be different. We suspect figs would be somewhat similar to dates with a bit of "Fig Newton" appeal added, while prunes would add a "fruitier" flavor. Raisins are another inexpensive option that might work in the right recipe (fair warning: pureed raisins have a strong, distinctive raisin flavor). Regardless of the dried fruit you choose, check to make sure that it has no added sugar!

A Word of Caution: Keep in mind that drying fruit is another method of concentrating natural sugars. The fiber and many antioxidants/nutrients are still present, but the water that helps keep you from eating too much isn't. Date puree is definitely a step up in health from added sugar in our eyes, but we encourage practicing moderation and portion control with it just as you would with other sweeteners and sweetened baked goods.

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Jordana Bowen

Creative Director & Editor-In-Chief at KitchenFable Publishing, Inc.
Jordana has years of experience in web and graphic design,copywriting and journalism, along with a BA in English from Portland State University. An accomplished home cook who has never met a cuisine she didn't like, Jordana enjoys nerding out on the latest nutrition research. She lives with her husband, Jake, and her beautiful 2-year-old daughter, Caia, in Forest Grove, Oregon.

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