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Date palms need hot growing conditions and are found in huge quantities in many regions roughly grouped around the equator, but in terms of exports to developed nations the main origins are Pakistan, the Middle East and North Africa.
Many varieties of dates exist worldwide, and these can be roughly divided between soft, semi-dry and dry groups. The dates in these groups have varying Sucrose, Fructose and Glucose sugar contents giving them slightly differing flavours and keeping properties. In the UK, Soft and Semi-dry varieties, such as Deglet Nour and Medjool, tend to be sold in retail packs for snacking whereas the dryer Aseel or Sayer pitted dates tend to be more used for processing and ingredients.
Because of their high level of natural sugars dry dates are microbiologically very stable and can be stored in ambient temperatures for long periods. Therefore, unlike many other dried tree fruits they do not contain any preservatives such as Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), which makes them attractive as an ingredient.
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