Deglet Nour dates – the bread of the desert

Finger of light

Since 2013, we have been working with organic farmers in Biskra on the “Deglet Nour” date variety. The Deglet Nour date variety, which is translated as “finger of light”, is one of the most popular date varieties. The thumb-sized, golden-coloured date bears this name because of its particularly soft, almost translucent flesh, through which the contours of the long pit with its pointed ends can be easily distinguished when held up to the sun.  It has a full-bodied, sweet flavour and is a real powerhouse thanks to its rich nutrient content.

Cultivation and processing

At times up to 2500 real palms stand ten metres apart in the date fields in Algeria which were certified organic with our help at the beginning of our collaboration They grow between 15 to 20 metres high and bear fruit for up to a century. Every two years the palms’ pollinated flowers bear new dates. The fruits dry in the simmering heat of the desert sun while still on the branch. As soon as the drying phase is over, the very hard dates are harvested by hand and then transported in crates to the processing facility located in Biskra. There, they are first sorted by size, degree of drying and further criteria before they are washed and sprinkled with drinking water until the desired moisture content has been reached. The dates are then pitted by hand. This method of processing gives the Deglet Nour dates their especially soft consistency.

The bread of the desert

Due to their high nutrient concentration, dates were counted as a staple foodstuff as far back as 5000 years ago, and this is also the case today, particularly in the East.  That is why they are also known as “the bread of the desert”. It’s not only the honey-sweet, caramel-like flesh of the date that can be used as an important food product and energy source; in the desert the date pits are also trampled down, mixed with a small amount of water and used as animal food. Dates are characterised not only by the many vitamins and trace elements they contain, but also by their significance in human history. As a result of the date palm’s consistent blooming and many diverse uses, it is considered to be a tree of life in the Bible, and has become a symbol of resurrection. Dates also enjoy an important role in Islam. During the fasting period of Ramadan, Muslims break their fast after sunset with a date and a glass of water, as the Prophet Muhammad purportedly recommended.