Pato's Dream Date Gardens is offering organically grown fresh picked dates in the Khalal stage, for mail order purchase, for 8 weeks only, August 15- October 15, 2012. We will also be bringing them in to the Alhambra Farmers' Market (Monterrey and Bay State, Sundays, 8:30-12) beginning in August.
Dates in the Khalal stage are still crunchy, like an apple. The color is usually yellow (or magenta - purple in the case of the Black Sphinx). As they continue to ripen after picking, they begin to turn amber and brown (or black), turning very soft in the rutab stage. (If left on the palm, they continue to ripen from the rutab to their final stage, tamar, and then begin to loose moisture, becoming firm enough to ship; and then becoming chewy). The flavor of dates in the khalal stage can be on the tart side, pucker your mouth like a persimmon (or a dry wine), unless picked very close to ripening, and then a very special flavor. (I wait for a brown spot to appear to tell me they are ready, but many palates prefer them earlier than that).
The harvest of our unique Mariana dates should begin around August 17, with same day shipping of the fruit by priority mail, USPS. If there is a waiting list, fruit will go to customers in order of money received or orders placed through localharvest.org. We ship a 5 lb. bunch of dates, the fruit still attached to the strands. As the bunches continue to ripen on the palms through September, we anticipate a crop of over 600 lbs.. Later in the harvest, the Marianas will have less astringency and crunch, and will tend to be sweeter and softer. We will try to pull off softest dates before shipping, but some will ripen and fall off the bunch during transit. (The softest fruit we pick off is perfect rutab, but would mash during shipping).
Some fruit will not ripen fully into rutab (soft), but will get wizened and spongy, before (eventually) drying out into a less sweet, dry tamar. We try to pull most of these off before shipping, but each bunch will have fruit in all stages of ripening. Put them in the fridge to hold them in the khalal stage a little longer, or hang them out in kitchen, porch, or sukkah to continue ripening. Keep dry and airy to avoid mold... First picking of Black Sphinx will probably be the first week in September, a flavor in khalal stage a little like a jicama. Barhis, the sweetest flavor of all (nicknamed "honey balls") should be ready about the middle of September.