Many types of plums can be dried to make prunes, but the California French prune plum makes up 99 percent of the dried plums commercially produced.
- Dried prune plums: Today about 70 percent of the world’s dried plum supply, and nearly 100 percent of domestic dried plums, come from California prune plum orchards. Dried prune plums are available both with and without pits, and chopped or diced.
- Dried mirabelles: The small, round, fleshy plums called mirabelles are also sold as dried plums. They are smaller than the average dried prune plum.
- Sour prunes: In addition to the standard-issue American dried plum, you can sometimes find sour prunes. Orange-ish in color, these are a staple in Middle Eastern and Greek cuisines, among others. Red plums are dried in the sun or in special kilns to produce sour prunes. Although they are called sour, their flavor is a combination of tart and sweet.
Prunes are also available in the following forms:
- Prune juice: Prune juice is made by pulverizing dried prune plums and dissolving them in hot water. Available in bottles and cans, be sure to check the label to be sure you’re getting unsweetened juice.
- Prune butter (lekvar): This thick paste made of pureed dried prune plums is used in baby foods, as a pastry filling, as a spread, and as a fat replacement in baked goods.
How to choose the best prunes
If you don’t mind the chore of pitting them, whole unpitted dried plums are less expensive than pitted ones.
How to store prunes
After opening the package, reseal it as tightly as possible or transfer the dried plums to an airtight container. Store them in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
How to cook with dried plums (prunes)
Dried plums, also known as prunes, are a meaty, high-fiber fruit that add a touch of sweetness to many meat and vegetable dishes.
Cutting, chopping, or dicing dried plums can be tedious work because the knife quickly becomes sticky. To make the job easier, use kitchen scissors and either dip the blades into warm water between cuts or spray the scissors with nonstick cooking spray to keep them clean. Then, enjoy experimenting with these seven ideas, or add to your own favorite recipes.
7 recipe ideas for dried plums (prunes)
- Add diced dried plums to carrots as they cook.
- Soften dried plums in red wine, port, or Marsala and serve with a dollop of sweetened nonfat yogurt for dessert.
- Add diced dried plums to bean, chicken or pork stews.
- Poach dried plums in orange juice and use as a topping for frozen yogurt.
- Add diced dried plums to chili.
- Poach fresh plums in prune juice spiced with black pepper and allspice.
- Stuff mushrooms with a mixture of diced dried plums and breadcrumbs.