Never buy chopped dates

One of Tiffany’s rules of life

Chopping dried dates is a sticky, time consuming, delicate job. It requires a sharp knife, a special technique, and time.

Pre-chopped dates are terrible — dry, woody, gross. Convenience versions of foods which were once revered have made eating a sad affair. Do not participate in the perpetuation of the abomination of food and eating.

Make a space, make the time, and do it right.

I like to listen to music or audio books while I do my prep, though I’ve also sometimes performed such tasks in silence, finding at last an opportunity to hear myself think, and to let those thoughts stroll into places they’ve never been.

Always chop your own dates.


Presumably, you will be adding the dates to a batter for a cake or squares. It will be important that the chopped pieces to not stick together. This will be your biggest problem.

As soon as you cut open a dried date, the sticky inside will gum up your knife and everything else including itself. But I offer a solution.

Before you start, have a small bowl of flour nearby, and have a scant sprinkling of flour on the cutting board.

Use your sharpest paring knife to slice open the date using only the tip of the knife. Pull out the pit, and immediately dust the sticky parts of the date in a bit of flour. Lightly only: as little as you can manage while still covering the sticky bits.

Using just the tip of your knife, slice the dates into strips, stopping to dust the sticky edges as often as you must. This will slow you down. It will be worth it.

Slice the strips into dice, one strip at a time to start, dusting as you go. Once you have the hang of it, try two strips at once. Three at once is my maximum.

After half a dozen dates, you will want to wash your knife. Use hot hot water, and dry it thoroughly. Start again.

Proceed in this manner until your work is done. You will be sorry to see the last one be chopped because you will have enjoyed the task so much.

3 thoughts on “Never buy chopped dates

  1. I was thinking I could use this to cut candied ginger since I don’t eat dried fruit, but Peter says I should ask you about your citron cutting technique.


  2. Never buy chopped candied citron. Never chop your own candied citron. Never eat candied citron. Candied citron is the reason people think they hate fruitcake. I hate candied citron.

    Though, recently when I was in Vienna I saw an entire half candied citron, and for a moment wondered if I maybe I’ve only ever had bad citron, and should buy this one and try it. I didn’t.


  3. old hint from the late Sarah Richardson [as related by her son oddly enough] : if you put the dates into the freezer for a short while, they will slice better … hope this helps for your next date with dates!


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