{Medjool Date} Bacon Jam

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About a month ago, I had the great fortune of flying to Yuma, Arizona for a Natural Delights Medjool Date Blogger Summit. Now, if you have been following me for even a short time, you know that I love Medjool Dates and frequently use them as an alternative to refined sweeteners.

Stunning Medjool Date Palm Fields
Stunning Medjool Date Palm Fields

This summit was such a natural fit for me and the type of recipes that I create at home and share with you all, I was beyond excited to attend and learn more about a product that has already long been a staple in my kitchen!

Although our time in Yuma was condensed, it was well thought out and optimized so that we could not only see firsthand the growing process but experience it. Our hosts arranged for us to be driven out to the date palm fields, suited in safety harnesses and hoisted up into the (very tall!) trees to harvest Medjool Dates for ourselves.

That me in the middle being goofy.
Photo Credit: Catherine from http://rabbitfoodformybunnyteeth.com/

After our farm tour, we headed to the packing facility to learn more about how the Medjool Dates are processed, sorted and packed for retail sale. I was very pleased to find out that there is only a very slight difference between organically grown Natural Delights Medjool Dates and conventional.

photo 4
That’s me harvesting fresh dates. The bags are used to protect the ripening dates from birds.

The conventional date trees are treated with fertilizer during the growing season. That is IT – no chemical sprays, pesticides or other noxious substances are forced onto the dates themselves. How awesome is that? (Note: I ONLY know this to be true for Natural Delights Medjool Dates as we toured growers farms in their cooperative so this may NOT be true for other brands.)

photo

The Medjool Date growing process is still a very natural one that is quite labor intensive. I have to admit, even though we always bought them anyway, I used to think Medjool Dates were pricey.

Freshly (that morning!) harvested Medjool Dates for us to snack on courtesy of Glen Vandervoort from Vandervoort Date Ranches
Freshly (that morning!) harvested Medjool Dates for us to snack on courtesy of Glen Vandervoort from Vandervoort Date Ranches

After seeing the pain-staking care that goes into caring for the Date Palms and harvesting the dates (by hand!) without huge machines or chemicals, I have changed my tune!

Some other fun and interesting facts I learned about Medjool Dates and wanted to share with you are:

  • Medjool Dates originate in Morocco and 11 trees were imported to the United States in 1927 (originally to Nevada) to escape a disease that was killing Date Palms.
  • Of those 11 original Date Palms, 6 are still growing (now in the Bard Valley) and are affectionately called “The Big Six”.
  • There are now over 250,000 Date Palms in the Bard Valley and EVERY SINGLE ONE can be traced back to one of The Big Six. How’s that for knowing where your food is from right?
  • Refrigerating (or even freezing if really soft and fresh) Medjool Dates extends their shelf life and they can last up to a year when kept at cool temperatures.
  • I was fascinated to learn that Natural Delights is a cooperative of Bard Valley growers who tend to and harvest their own farms but share costs and decisions when it comes to quality control, packaging and marketing.  A great group of people! You can learn more about them here.
  • There is a great FAQ on the bottom of this page that answers questions about gluten-free, halal, kosher, storage, nutritional and more.

So, while we were there learning about all things Medjool Date, we were also eating Medjools non-stop (and I mean NON-STOP), whether in the palms of our hand while in the fields or woven into a gourmet and fabulous dish at one of the cocktail hours, lunches or dinners that our hosts so graciously provided.

You are probably wondering “who” I am talking about when I say, “we” so let me introduce you to the group of fabulous bloggers and writers who attended the summit…

Check out their sites and what they had to say about our experience…

I think it was at lunch after the farm tour that it became obvious to me that I needed to make some Medjool Date Bacon Jam when I got home. Medjool Dates and bacon are a classic combo and very often found wrapped together and served as an appetizer.We had many variations of this during our trip (some with bacon, some with prosciutto, some with spicy sauces, etc.) that the flavor combo became engraved into my subconscious, waiting to be turned into something new and delicious.

Medjool Date Bacon Jam. Paleo Bacon Jam with Medjool Dates from www.everydaymaven.com

So without further ado, here is the recipe!

NOTES:

  • While this is time intensive, it is mostly hands-off cooking time. You do have to stir the jam every 15 minutes or so for the last hour and a half but other than that, it pretty much cooks itself.
  • While Bard Valley Natural Delights Medjool Dates hosted our entire trip, this post and recipe is not sponsored or endorsed by them. I am choosing to share my experience, knowledge and opinions with you because I had a great time!
  • A HUGE Thank you again to the fabulous, kind and hospitable growers who welcomed us to their fields and even one of their homes for dinner!
5.0 from 3 reviews
Medjool Date Bacon Jam
 
Prep:
Cook:
Total:
 
Recipe Makes Approximately 3½ to 3¾ cups -- Individual Serving Size is 2 Tablespoons -- 3 Points Plus Per Serving (Points Plus Based on 3½ Cups)
Serves: 28
Ingredients
  • 1 pound uncooked hickory smoked bacon (nitrate free, preservative free), cut into ½" pieces
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces Medjool Dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup organic, raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1½ cups cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Once hot, add bacon pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes until most of the fat is rendered and bacon bits are crispy.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove crisp bacon pieces to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
  3. Carefully (!) pour bacon fat into a glass container or mason jar.
  4. Return 2 Tablespoons of the bacon fat to the pot and add chopped garlic and onion.
  5. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions start to brown and caramelize, 35 to 40 minutes. Add cooked bacon pieces, chopped dates, apple cider vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer covered for 45 minutes.
  6. Remove lid and continue simmering for an additional one and a half hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so until jam is caramelized and dark brown with most of the liquid evaporated out.
  7. Allow to cool, place into glass containers and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Medjool Date Bacon Jam. Paleo Bacon Jam with Medjool Dates from www.everydaymaven.com

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Comments

  1. Michael says

    Lots of good info that I appreciated. Being a vegetarian I was grossed out by the bacon jam. Why spoil the dates and slaughter the pigs when the dates do so well in so many other combinations?

  2. Jen says

    Thanks! If I figure it out I will post it on your site! on an earlier post by Jason from Martha’s Gardens…. He was not exaggerating about how wonderful the date shakes are!! If you want a piece of date heaven, have a date shake at Martha’s!!

  3. says

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. Can it be canned for longer storage and preservation? If so, can you post any preservatives needed and canning methods (I.E. water bath or pressure cooked) Thanks

  4. Jason says

    Great recipe, and we certainly appreciate you posting it. We are also Medjool date growers – Martha’s Gardens (marthasgardens.com). We happen to have a fresh variety of date called a Hayany. They originated in Egypt, and they are delicious. But because they are a fresh date, they spoil quickly unless kept frozen.

    When people refer to fresh dates, they are usually thinking “freshly harvested”. Medjools are dried naturally on the tree, and are harvested in late August/Early September. They are, however, just as good several months down the road if kept frozen. They will be good for up to two years if stored frozen.

    EverydayMaven – next time you visit Yuma, keep us in mind! We love visitors, and we have the best date shakes around. We also offer farm tours. We were fortunate to have won the shake contest and the first annual medjool date festival, and we routinely have our customers tell us we have the best shakes around.

    Thanks again for your post! Posting info on the dates is great exposure, especially since they are good for you, are loaded with antioxidants and potassium, and have lots of fiber to boot! All our best.

    • EverydayMaven says

      I still have some nut covered date rolls left but I am out of the regular dates. I am still dreaming about the just-picked ones we got to eat and then bring home with us – those are magical!

    • EverydayMaven says

      Hi Judy! I am suggesting that a single serving is 2 Tablespoons which is 3 Weight Watchers Points Plus. If you don’t do WW, you can use a free calorie counter (like MyFitnessPal) to figure out the calories of a serving and plan accordingly. Good luck and if you make it, enjoy!

  5. Chloe says

    Definitely want to try this! I don’t have much experience with dates; does this recipe require fresh or dry ones? Thanks!

    • EverydayMaven says

      Hi Chloe,
      It is very hard to get fresh dates (at least in the US) so dried Medjool Dates are what you want. Hope you love it!

  6. says

    Alyssa,
    That sounds like a really cool trip, and I’m glad you shared it.
    I’m also glad for the jam recipe–after discovering green tomato bacon jam I am pretty stoked about the idea of date and bacon jam.
    Thanks!

    • EverydayMaven says

      It really was a great trip Kirsten – I feel lucky I was able to experience it and learn so much valuable information about Medjool Date growth and production!

  7. Licia says

    I will definitely try this recipe and can imagine infinite uses on sandwiches, brie tartines and to brighten up a stuffed pork tenderloin. Thank you for posting this. I noted your use of “without further adieu” and feel the need to correct it: the correct expression is “without further ado” and is derived from the old english “ado” and not from the french “adieu”. Thanks!

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