Looking for an easy and natural substitute for dates for many of the recipes you see online? Look no further.
Lately, I’ve noticed that a lot of real food recipes call for dates to sweeten them. From smoothies to granola bars, they seem to be in everything. Dates, while easy to find at most grocery stores, are not cheap. Pitted dates are usually a dollar or so more expensive and in some recipes it can bring up the cost of the recipe by a lot! They can cost as much as $9 per pound!
Enter my friend, the raisin. A couple of years ago, I began to use raisins instead of dates in my smoothies, grain free muffins, overnight oats, and preserves. They are sweet, delicious, and a lot cheaper than dates.
It is true that dates have many health benefits but so do grapes! They are both quite similar in nutritional benefits and in texture.
When I look at how dates are being used in many recipes they are used as a filler (like in homemade bars) and as a sweetener. Regardless how you use them, I’ll show you my two methods of using raisins as a substitute for dates.
If you are going to substitute raw dates for raisins in baking recipes, like in muffins, brownies, and Lara bars, you’ll want to soak the raisins for about 2-3 minutes in hot water. Soaking the raisins for about 3 minutes will reconstitute some of the moisture and give them a similar texture to dates. Then, all you have to do is drain and pat dry with a a paper towel.
For smoothies and everything else I make raisin paste and keep a small jar in the fridge at all times. I large date will be about 1 2 teaspoons of raisin paste.
It might not be the prettiest of all things, but raisin paste is an inexpensive an easy substitute for things like green smoothies. I drink a green smoothie daily, so one teaspoon of raisin paste is all I need to make the “greenness” tolerable.
- 1 ½ cups dried raisins
- Place raisins in a glass bowl. Pour boiling water over them, just enough to cover raisins. Wait 10 minutes or so to reconstruct the raisins into plump fruit. Reserve ¼ cup raisin water and drain. Transfer into a food processor.
- Turn food processor on and let it go until you have a thick paste. Begin adding water, one tablespoon at a time, until you have a smooth peanut butter like consistency.
- Store in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks. You can also freeze raisin paste into cubes and be kept in the freezer for months.
- Use 2 teaspoons of raisin paste for every date in most recipes.