General & History
In nature date palms are wind pollinated but in production they have been hand pollinated since ancient times. This produces a much heavier yield and makes one male tree sufficient to pollinate 100 fruit bearing female trees.
California follows the Arab naming system for stages of ripeness: Kimri (green unripe), khalal (yellow full-size and crunchy), rutab (ripe, darkened, very soft), tamr (fully ripe and sun-dried).Varieties
There are hundreds of date varieties but only a few are in major commercial production, and even fewer are found in markets in the United States.
Abbada - Black Date
Barhi - [Berhi, Kharak Berhi, Barhee, Honeyball]
An almost spherical variety grown in Iran and Iraq, particularly popular there in the soft ripe (rotab) state. Grown in California as Barhi or Barhee, they are the main variety grown here that can be eaten in the khalal (crisp) state (most dates have too much tannin at that stage). They are available khalal in August and September and are shipped by air freight to Middle Eastern communities throughout the US, and by truck to California produce markets.
Here in Los Angeles, Middle Eastern folks cart these off by the sack
full when they're available. When buying them look for strands with some of
the dates starting to turn to the soft rotab state as these will be the
sweetest strands. These dates are also sold in the fully cured tamr state
when they are creamy and extremely sweet, thus the "honeyball" name. The
photo specimens were about 1.4 x 1.1 inches and weighed up to 0.3 ounces.
Halawy - [Golden Princess]
Mozafati - [Bam Date]
Soft and very sweet but not sticky on the outside, this variety is noted
for being edible in both soft ripe (rotab) and dried (tamr) forms, and having
an unusually long shelf life in either form.
Zahidi - [Zahdi]