A few years ago, I had the opportunity to tour the Shield’s Date Garden in Indio to learn the secret to their famous Palm Springs date shake recipe.
Fondly called mop tops, the date palms of Indio and Bard Valley near Palm Springs produce more than 40 million pounds of dates per year. Introduced to California in 1769 by missionaries, date palms thrive in the hot, sunny climate of the Coachella Valley. In fact, about 95 percent of US grown dates come from California.
Opened in 1924 by Floyd and Bess Shields, the historic Shield’s Date Garden is a great place to sample many date varieties, each fruit with its own unique taste. Among the most popular are the large Medjool dates, prized for their sweet, moist and chewy texture. Other types of dates that grow in Palm Springs and nearby Bard Valley include the deglet noor, Barhi, honey, Khadrawi, golden princess and abbada black date.
The blonde dates, grown only at Shield’s, are especially moist and delicious.
Native to Northern Africa and Western Asia, dates are a nutritious and delicious snack. The dates nutritional value includes a good dose fiber, B-complex vitamins and more potassium than bananas. They also contain selenium, which protects against heart disease and cancer, and have only 23 calories per bite. Dates are delicious made into a sticky date pudding, date bread, date cookies or a date loaf. On their own, dates can keep one month in the refrigerator and up to a year in the freezer.
After watching the quick 15 minute film about the “Romance and Sex Life of the Date,” I had to sample one of Shield’s signature date shakes, which are famous in the California desert. And let me say, they lived up to the hype!
Next time you’re in the Coachella Valley, you must try the Palm Springs Date Shakes!!
Palm Springs Date Shakes
- 1 cup vanilla ice cream
- 1/2 cup cold milk
- 1/4 cup finely chopped California dates
- Blend well and enjoy!