Where I live, it is not uncommon to see huge plastic tubs of dates lying around the house. My family has around 6 or 7 matured date trees in the back yard.
The man who picks our dates usually begins early in the morning. He takes a take his rope and places it taught around the tree. Throwing it up higher across the scales of bark, he uses the abrasive surface to climb higher and higher till has reached the fruit!
After all the dates are collected, it is time to prepare them for consumption. Usually we will just eat them raw or as is, which is very nice. They are a little grainier that way, and the flavor profile is far fruitier. They pair very nicely with a glass of unsweetened coffee, or anything else you can think of. We literally eat them with everything.
Now the route you can take, and the ones that are readily available in us supermarkets, involves drying them. They taste very nice as well, though I certainly prefer their raw counterpart. There is many a debate on the best way to dry them. According to my host mom you are supposed to wash them very well first to rid away all of the impurities. Make sure to dry them to avoid any mold or bacteria. Lay out long strips of newspaper on your roof, laying them out very flat. The final secret is… wait for it, 90 degree F. weather.
There are many different varieties of dates found in the region but the ones here are very round and sweet with a little bitterness. Some of the dates are a rusty burgundy red that gladiate to the fibrous matured part of the date, that is like an oozy caramel. The dates you usually see in grocery stores are actually yellow amber before they are dried.
Like coconut trees, date trees have only one trunk that does not split off into multiple branches. Under the long spears of green tassels lies a clump of densely packed dates dangling just below the treetops.
Once all the dates are sorted and clean, we throw them in straw baskets, and they are ready to be handed out as gifts or enjoyed on the spot!