Prunes are sweet black dried fruits that resemble large raisins. They are made by pitting and drying fresh ripe plums. Plums, like their relatives peaches and nectarines, are sweet tree fruits with thin skin, juicy meat, and a seed pit in the center. There is evidence that plums have been cultivated since the Neolithic age, alongside grapes, olives, and figs.
When dried the water in the fruit meat is removed, and the meat becomes soft and chewy. Dried fruits typically retain the flavors, sugars, and nutrients of their fresh versions, but at a higher concentration. Dried Prunes are fat free, high in fiber, and have no added sugars despite their sweet taste.
Plums are commonly found in cuisine of many world cultures. In some Asian cultures plum paste and plum flavored desserts like ice cream, sorbet, and turnovers are popular. Dried plums are also sold as a snack enhanced with savory spices like ginseng, licorice, chili powder, and sea salt. Plum wine is a potent alcoholic drink enjoyed in China, while other fermented plum drinks are enjoyed throughout some parts of central and eastern Europe. Plums and prunes are also found in North African tagines, Jewish Tzimmes, Nordic rice pudding, and more.
Dried pitted prunes are easy to enjoy. They can be eaten whole for snacking, or cooked up in a variety of ways. They can be stuffed, diced, simmered, stewed, and sautéed. Consider adding them to rice, couscous, or quinoa dishes for a touch of sweetness and interesting texture. Stuff them with cheese and wrap with bacon or prosciutto for a quick gourmet appetizer. Plums, and therefore dried prunes, compliment most meats as a marinade or stuffing, especially pork or beef roasts, duck, or turkey. And of course, like all dried fruits, dried prunes are easily added to oatmeal, cakes, muffins, sweet breads, and pie fillings. Holiday favorites like sugared plums and figgy pudding require dried prunes.
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