I picked up a stalk/stem (about 18" long) of fresh dates today at a new grocery store. I am a little bit of a quandry about them. They are clearly not ripe. A few of the fruits are soft, almost mushy, and are starting to change color; although their flavor was mild it was easy to detect that they were in the early ripening stages. The rest of the mostly unripe fruit is an odd drab yellowish/greenish color and quite firm. I tried one of these, the texture being about like that of an olive, it was neither sweet nor bitter and had have very little actual flavor to it.
Has anyone ever ripened dates on the vine? How long does it usually take? What's the best way to ripen fresh dates, just leave them on the kitchen counter? Do I have to do anything to them once they've ripened? I really liked the flavor that was coming on in the partially ripe dates. Any suggestions for how to get them all to optimal ripeness?