Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Trip to Sam Cobb Date Farm for Fresh Dates!

doo doo doo... la di da ... doo doop doo wop 
That's the sound of me doing a happy dance whenever I get to stock up on more dates from Sam Cobb Date Farm - but especially when we get to visit the actual date farm! 

I love this picture of Sam up in the date tree! I *think* this was a medjool tree, if I recall correctly.

Every year when we go south to the Indian Well Tennis Tournament, we save one whole day of our trip for exploring and having fun in the desert. I always insist on a stop at Sam Cobb Date Farm - I love loading up on boxes and boxes of dates and getting to sample all the varieties.  I love visiting with Sam and Maxine, and supporting their family farm. I even love the drive there, past the Coachella Valley Preserve, past the wild flowers, and over some big rolling bumps that make the car ride feel like a roller coaster.

getting a tour around the farm

This year's visit was especially fun because my mom and my aunt were with us. They have both received many boxes of dates from Sam Cobb Farms over the years, because their dates are one of my favorite gifts to give people. So it was super fun to bring them along and they got to see the farm and some of the date trees, and meet Sam and Maxine, and buy some dates of their own!

Sam just happened to drop by when we were there, which was great. He showed us around the farm (they also have more farmland and more date trees in another spot). In addition to a life-long passion for agriculture and farming, Sam has also had a long career in soil conservation. And it turns out that my aunt Laura worked for the same agency earlier in her career. So they had a great time connecting over the early days of soil conservation and how it has evolved.

A few beautiful date trees

It's so special and amazing to learn about where our food comes from. I think there's something very innate about understanding what we're eating, where it came from, and even who grew it. That's a big part of why I love going to the farmers' market every week, learning about the farmers, learning about what grows locally, and when... So it really feels special to see all these date trees and to learn more about where this magical fruit comes from.

Sam was telling us about the 7-year cycles that date trees have. All in all, it takes 21 years for a date tree to begin enough fruit to really be considered a crop! But after that, they can live and produce for a long time. Also, did you know that every single date pit is a potentially new variety of date?? The only way to propagate the same variety is to take the offshoots that spring up at the base of the tree (you can see some in this picture). Those are allowed to grow for quite a while before they are removed and planted on their own. In the next picture (bottom right) you can see a whole row of baby palms all lined up in pots... awaiting the next chapter of their palm lives! 

Farm fun!

See the white bags on the tree? That's to keep birds and other creatures and critters away from the date clusters as they ripen on the tree. Sam Cobb Date Farm has a website so you can order direct, and I usually end up making a few orders a year - after I run out of my spring time stash, and always for xmas presents. But when you drop by for a visit in person,* you can try all the different varieties of dates that they grow. I think it's eight different varieties? It's so amazing how different they all are!! Some are super gooey and sweet, some are firm and sweet, some are much more dry and nutty in flavor... it's such a range. It's fun to sample them all and see that we each had different favorites. 

*The farm is open on the weekends 9am-5pm, October-April

These were the varieties Mr VE&T and I selected:

Jumbo Medjool, Black Gold (my personal all-time fave! rich, in-between soft and dry, great flavor), Safari (Mr VE&T's favorite - they're dry and chewy and nutty), and Zahidi. My mom chose Medjools and Bahri dates (super smoosy, small, golden, and very sweet). My auntie got two boxes too - but I am naughty and don't remember which ones she chose! We all came home with lots of dates! 

Picking dates off the tree! Nom nom.

How cool is this? Sam let us each pick a date right off the tree. OH MAN. So fresh and perfect. Have you ever eaten a date that's a little over the hill - kinda stale, crystallized maybe? Well, this was the opposite of that! ha ha. I hope you get to have this experience someday! 

What to do with all those dates??
I mostly just eat my dates as a sweetie nibble - I love to rip them in half, remove the pit, and fill the little empty pockets with peanut butter, almond butter, or tahini. Sometimes I get super fancy and add coconut flakes or cocoa nibs or a whole almond for some crunch. Even chocolate chips are good in there! But usually I'm happy with the basic. Of course I also use them for cooking - some of the special cookies I made for Persian New Year had dates in the filling, and the 5-star amazing cookies I made at Christmas time had lots of dates in the filling. There are a lot of great recipes that use dates as a sweetener! What are your favorite date recipes??? I still have lots of dates to eat, so I'm all ears! 


  1. I always think of you when I see dates! I don't have any such exciting date adventures near me, I just buy them from the shops.
    I love dates and peanut butter as a snack! Or dates and strawberries to nibble on. I know a lot of people put them in smoothies, but I find they make the smoothie too sweet. A little bit of date goes a long way!

    1. It's true! A little bit of date really does go a long way - they are super sweet. Don't dates grow in Australia? I would think the climate would be perfect with all the heat!

  2. oh what a great day this sounds like!!! i will definitely get there someday, thank you for the detailed information. How do you store the dates that you don't eat right away?

    1. You can put them in the freezer! Sam taught me that! I have two more tubs in the freezer right now!

    2. wow, that is super smart. Thanks Amey! And Sam!

  3. StaceyO10:13 AM

    keep up the good work!

    1. check my blog if you want


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