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Let’s Talk Prunes
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’m here to tell you that prunes aren’t just for old people like me 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 another chance. You might be surprised at how good they actually are.
What Are Prunes?
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 fruit favorite. The reason being that 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 Other “Fall” Fruit
Apples have long been the popular “fall” fruit but the best prunes are also found in the fall. This would explain 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 sweet when baked and have the texture similar to raisins.
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 prunes 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, soo 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 again), would now view prunes as not only as being healthful and nutritional but also as delicious and appealing. I don’t think thats asking to much, do you?
Just One Serving
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 Purée is also another good way to eat your “dried plums.” Available in most grocery stores or you can make your own. Prune Purée can be used as a fat substitute in baked goods by replacing the butter or fat with an equal amount of prune puree. Therefore you are cutting the calories in half, eliminating almost all of the fat plus adding fiber. Also by replacing the fat with prune puree, you can reduce the cholesterol to almost zero and reduce the calories by up to 30 percent in many recipes. Prune purée adds moisture, gives a slightly chewy texture and adds a nice prune/plum flavor. Give it a try and see what you think. Spread some prune purée on scones, muffins or on a piece of thick country bread.
- 1 1/3 cups (8 oz)
pitted dried plums
- 6 tablespoons
- In a food processor, process dried plums and water until pureed.
- Cover and refrigerate up to 1 month.
- Makes 1 cup.
Make Some Prune Filling
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/or fruitcake.
A fantastic recipe for prune filling that can be used in many recipes.
- 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 tangerine, if desired
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice substitute orange or tangerine, if desired
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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'.
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.
Here is a fantastic recipe showcasing prunes. Banana Prune Muffins
Apple Prune Muffins are another muffin recipe made with prunes.
Did you know? Provençal refers to flavors popular in Provence, in southeastern France. Olive oil, garlic and tomatoes are staple Provençal ingredients; seafood, olives, mushroom and eggplant are also common.