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Soup Name:  Basic Chinese Chicken Soup Stock (Soup Base)

Traditional Chinese Name: 清雞湯 (qīng jī tāng)

Introduction: This is the base Chinese Chicken Soup stock that …

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Home » Fruits, Ingredients

Large Dried Dates

Submitted by on December 22, 2008 – 10:38 pm15 Comments | 63,557 views

Ingredient Name: Large Dried Dates
Traditional Chinese Name: 蜜棗 (mì zǎo)

What is this?
  • Dates are the berry fruits produced from the date palm of the palm family
  • There are varying types and sizes of dates, some which are meant to be edible as snacks and some appropriate for soups
  • The best types for soups are pitted (or stoned) and have had their pits removed, this way, they can dissolve into the soup and create more flavour
  • They can be stored for 6- 12 months at a time (in an air tight container at an appropriate humidity)

How do I prepare it?

  • To prepare for soup, simply rinse with cold water and add to the COLD water of soup (prior to boiling)
  • In general, 2-3 large dried dates are sufficient for any soup

Where can I buy this?

  • In Hong Kong, any dried food store will carry this (wet marts, supermarkets, mom and pop shops)
  • In Canada, any Chinese dried food store will carry it as well (in Chinese malls)
  • They are sold pre-packaged or in bulk

What is the cost?

  • Dates are relatively affordable, you can purchase the above pictured in a Chinese store for $2 CAD / pound

Any benefits?

  • By adding dried dates to your soup, you can effectively eliminate the addition of sugar and salt
  • Dried dates contain happy amounts of fiber, iron, niacin, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, B, calcium, phosphorous, and copper
  • Dates are used to assist with constipation (because of their mild laxative effect), anemia, fatigue, and prevention to abdominal cancer

Any precautions?

  • If kept too long, dried dates may sour and are unacceptable for human consumption
  • Dried dates are highly odor-sensitive and should not be stored near onions, garlic and other alliaceous vegetables
  • If stored in temperatures greater than 25 degrees celcius, dried dates may begin to ferment and release syrup

These are a staple in my kitchen for soup making.  You can buy them in bulk and they will store nicely in the fridge or on the shelf.   I will usually either use dried dates or figs, but not both together.  This really depends on how “sweet” you want your soup to be.  My mother will even eat the dates after the soup has been made.

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  • Catherine says:

    Can you tell me what you mean the dates will sour and are unacceptable for human consumption if kept too long? Does it just tastes bad, or will it actually do harm if eaten?

  • zeba syed says:

    Is it possible to order a sample of your dried dates?

  • LadyTong says:

    We’re very sorry – we don’t actually SELL any products. We merely provide an information portal to ingredients used in Chinese Soups. Try doing a search on google for dried dates. Where do you live btw? Maybe we can assist with pointing you in the right direction to purchase dates from an actual store.


  • LadyTong says:

    If dates are kept too long, it can potentially begin to mold and/or insects or self-ferment. They key to high quality dates is that they are dried (removing all excess moisture) appropriately and have minimal water content – therefore enabling it to be stored longer.

    As with all consummables, there is an expiration date. When we say that the dates are no longer acceptable for human consumption, it means that it’s gone bad by either fermenting (thus going sour) or being a host for insects and mold. Both of which I wouldn’t suggest eating.

    I hope this answers your question, but if you’re still unclear, please let us know and we’ll provide more information.


  • pat says:

    I have this kind of date in hand. I’d like to use them as sugar substitute. Can I put them into any sweet soup-type dish? One of my friends from HK told me that some ingredents can’t be put together as they may release some negative effects to your body.

  • LadyTong says:

    Pat, actually large dried dates aren’t often used in sweet-soups. Smaller dates and red dates are more common in sweet soups. And yes, some ingredients are not recommeded together as they don’t compliment each other. Could you provide a list of what you want to throw together and I find out for your whether they match? Lisa

  • pat says:

    Thanks a lot Lisa, I was just thinking make it simply like to make sweet potato or mug bean soup, and just throw 1 or 2 dates in. I’m still new in making Chinese soup, very nice to have found your site by the way.
    I personally don’t like meat so savory soups normally don’t attract me. Can you suggest some?, any, sweet, hot ect will be fine for me.

  • Christina says:

    Hi, just got some red dates from the store and noticed that there are white bits on the surface. I compared them to my previous purchase which did not have them. Is there a way of telling if they’re mould or just normal? I was told that they could be sugar that’s crystallized on surface? Thanks.

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Christina,
    Normally, the white bits can be crystallization, but if you purchase relatively freshly dried dates, they shouldn’t have any crystallization. This usually happens when its kept for quite some time, is not stored properly (ie: quite humid or sunny area), or is in the condition of being not a good thing to use – being the sugars themselves are breaking down within the fruit. Red dates should look very dark brown in colour without any spots. I would suggest to try to wash it off and if truly in doubt, discard. Hope this helps! Lisa

  • Janice says:

    Hi, could red dates replace this in soup?

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Janice, you can replace with red dates – although it might not be as sweet. Red dates are usually more common in both desserts, teas and herbal drinks more than soups – but definitely substitutable. Lisa

  • Sue says:

    Your site is extremely helpful – thank you so much LadyTong. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    – Are this type of large date ok to eat raw from the package, or should they be cooked always? (3 red lanterns on package K.L.Y. Trading Co.)

    – Does anyone know the botanical name of the palm that produces this date?

    – I would like to try to grow the ‘pips’ (hard seeds) in these dates – are they from a hot sandy climate, or a mountain climate? Should the hard shell be chipped slightly with soaking in water before planting to aid moisture getting inside for seed germination?

    – Do these dates come from places in China where wild creatures depend on them for food?

    – What creatures besides humans eat these dates in the wilderness in China?

    Cheers, Sue

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Sue, with regards to your questions.
    1. Red dates – I hesitate to eat anything raw from Chinese packaging 😛 With a western upbringing, I am quite cautious about eating Chinese packaged goods – therefore my recommendation would be to boil them first or cook them (or soak them in tea) or something. At least rinse them in running water as a first. As well, these dates are really “raw”. They are processed already and meant for immediate usage, so technically, you could eat them.
    I’m sorry about the other information. You could check wikipedia as a source of information. My information is provided from a “soup” perspective. Hope this helps. Lisa

  • Thu says:

    Hi LadyTong,
    My MIL often make snow pear, dried date, and some kind of nut seed drink. It is super sweet to my taste and have to dilute with water to my drinkable choice. I try to find the recipe on your site to see the ratio between pear and dried date but I can’t find it. Do you have this recipe on site? If so please point me to the correct link.
    Another question is do you know what the drink is good for and should be drank when sick/having fever/having a common cold?
    Thank you so much for taking time to response.

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