April 29, 2014

Let's Talk Prunes

On the Menu Today~
Let's Talk Prunes
Prune Puree'
Prune Filling

I know what your thinking......
Prunes? Seriously?
Aren't prunes for old people?
Like grandma and grandpa old?
Aren't prunes for people who want to stay, you know "regular"?
Most people when they think of prunes, think of, the fruit that makes you "go."

The fruit that keeps on giving~

 I am here to tell you that prunes aren't just for old people anymore or
for people who have, you know, "regularity" issues.
I have recently re-discovered "dried plums" and
I have to say, they are delicious.
If you haven't tried dried plums in awhile...give them a try...
you to might be surprised at how delicious they are.

You might be thinking...
What the heck are prunes anyway?
A prune is simply a dried plum,
the word coming from the Latin prunum for "plum."
The french call a fresh plum a prune,
while their word for prune is pruneau. 
This dried fruit has been around for centuries.
It can be traced back to Roman times and
has long been a popular Northern European winter favorite because
prunes can be stored without any problems and
for long periods of time.
Although any plum can become a prune,
those with the greatest flavor, sweetness and firmness are the best used as "prunes"

The best prunes are found in the fall,
which is why they are widely used during the winter months.
Now prunes are available year round and
come in various sizes; small, medium, large, extra large and jumbo.
When purchasing prunes, look for those that are slightly soft and flexible.
They should have a bluish-black skin and be blemish-free.
Prunes come in packages of all sizes and even individually wrapped.
Store prunes in a cool, dry place for up to a year or longer.
Prunes can be eaten out of hand or
used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.
Prunes are wonderfully sweet when baked and
have the texture similar to raisins.

Commercial dehydration has replaced sun-drying as the primary production method.
In early 2001,
American prune growers asked the Food and Drug Administration for approval to call and
label prunes as "dried plums" which of course is what they always have been and always will be. Growers were hoping consumers would see prunes as "dried plums" and
see them in a new and different light, so to speak.
Today US labels list both names on packages,
while exported "dried plums" are still sold as "prunes" in European Countries and elsewhere.
US growers wanted to have consumers who saw prunes as a medicinal food,
only to be eaten when needed (regularity issues),
would now view prunes as not only as being healthful and
nutritional but also as delicious and appealing.

Just one serving of dried plums is a sweet way to enjoy a good source of Dietary Fiber and
the Antioxidant Vitamin A.
This Superfruit may also help you stay strong....
studies suggest that the consumption of prunes may help reverse the loss of bone density.
Dried plums are a good source of: Potassium, Dietary Fiber,
Vitamin A and
they have; No Sugar Added.

Prune Puree' is also another good way to eat your "dried plums"
Prune Puree' can be found in most supermarkets or you can make your own.
Prune Puree can be used as a fat substitute.
In baked goods,
when you replace the butter or fat with an equal amount of prune puree.
You can cut the calories in half,
eliminate almost all of the fat and add some fiber.
Replacing the fat with prune puree can reduce the cholesterol to almost zero and
reduce the calories by up to 30 percent.
Prune puree adds moisture,
gives a slightly chewy texture and
adds a nice prune, plum flavor.
You can also spread prune puree on scones, muffins or
on a piece of thick country bread.

Prune Puree'

  • 1 1/3 cups (8 oz) pitted dried plums
  • 6 tablespoons hot water
Cooking Directions
  1. In a food processor, process dried plums and water until pureed.
  2. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 month.
  3. Makes 1 cup.
Another wonderful way to use "dried plums" is to make prune filling.
Many European countries use prune filling extensively in baking.
Prune filling can be used for many baked goods such as:
cakes, cookies, pastries, kolaches, rugelach, and pierogi.
You can also spread it on toasted raisin bread and fruitcake.

Prune Filling

  • 18 ounces pitted prunes
  • 1 1/2 cups water or apple juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (substitute orange or tangerines, if desired)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (substitute orange or tangerines, if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Place the prunes in a non-reactive saucepan with water or juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; simmer for 20 minutes and prunes begin to soften. Drain the prunes, reserving 1 cup of the liquid from the pan. Place the prunes into a food processor or use an immersion blender and process into a smooth puree'.
  2. Return the puree' to the saucepan along with the 1 cup reserved liquid, the sugar, the cinnamon, lemon rind and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently until the mixture begins to bubble. Once the mixture darkens and thickens into the consistency of lemon curd, remove from the heat, add the vanilla extract and cool completely. You can store the prune filling in a glass canning jar in the refrigerator for several weeks or you can also can the prune filling in sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath. This will keep the filling for many months.


A few facts about Wild Plums~

Prunelle: (proo-NEHL)
Is a sweet, pale green, Brandy-based liqueur flavored with sloes, (wild plums)

Sloe: (SLOH)
This wild European Plum is the fruit of the blackthorn, which also bears showy white flowers.
The purple skinned sloe has an extremely tart yellow flesh.
Though too sour for out of hand eating, sloes are used for jams, jellies and
To flavor Liqueurs, such as Sloe Gin.
They're not generally available in the U.S.

Sloe Gin~ (sloh JIHN)
A liqueur made by steeping pricked or crushed sloes in gin.

Here are a few "Drinks" that use Sloe Gin~

1. Alabama Slammer- Southern Comfort, Amaretto, Sloe Gin and Lemon Juice
2 Sloe Screw- Sloe Gin and Orange Juice
3 Sloe Comfortable Screw-Sloe Gin, Southern Comfort and Orange Juice
4. Peyton's Place- Gin, Sloe Gin, Grapefruit Juice, Club Soda
5. Ruby- Sloe Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Creme' de Framboise (raspberry liqueur)
6. Sloe Gin Fizz- Sloe Gin, Fresh Lemon Juice, Gomme Syrup, Club Soda

 Banana Prune Muffins~  Banana Prune Muffins

Apple Prune Muffins

Did you know? Proven├žal refers to flavors popular in Provence, in southeastern France. Olive oil, garlic and tomatoes are staple Proven├žal ingredients; seafood, olives, mushroom and eggplant are also common.
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