What?! I know, those of you reading this who are my patients know how I often go on about how sugar is one of the biggest problems with our “modern” diet, but the thing is that most people will not give it up completely (and maybe we shouldn’t) so trying to find healthier alternatives also has its place in my kitchen. At home I basically use only honey, maple syrup or date syrup to sweeten when sweetening is necessary. And more and more I have been using date syrup. Of all of the sugar sources, it is the healthiest – though yes, at the end of the day it is still sugar! So moderation is key…
- 500 g dates (you can use the “normal” dates for this rather than the more expensive Madjoul variety)
- 1-1.5 litre of water (preferably spring or filtered)
- Pit and chop dates.
- Soak the dates in boiling water for 15-20 minutes to get rid of impurities, then discard the water.
- Place the soaked dates in a large lidded pot with 1-1.5 litres of water. You may need to add the high amount of water if the liquid reduces too quickly. Bring to a gentle boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 1-2 hrs (the longer the better).
- Take off the heat and allow it to cool down completely.
- Place a strainer over a large bowl and line it with a large piece of cheesecloth.
- Squeeze all of the liquid from the cooked dates in small batches by putting the dates through the strainer and squeezing the pulp with the cheesecloth. You should get about 500ml of liquid. Set aside the pulp, which you can use to mix into smoothies, make into a date paste to have with cheese, or add to cakes or yogurts – it is full of fibre!
- Pour the liquid into a pot and allow it reduce gently for about 30 minutes or more, until the syrup becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside in a little jar and cool. Et voila!