A prune is any of various of various plum species, mostly Prunus domesticus or European Plum (commonly referred to as a Sugar Plum). They are usually sold as dried fruit. Fresh plums that are marketed as "prunes" have an oval shape and a more easily removed pit. The dried fruit is wrinkly in texture, and chewy on the inside.
More than 1,000 cultivars
of plums are grown for drying. The main cultivar grown in the US is the Improved French prune. Other varieties include Sutter, Tulare Giant, Moyer, Imperial, Italian, and Greengage
. In general, fresh prunes are freestone cultivars (the pit is easy to remove), whereas most other plums grown for fresh consumption are cling (the pit is more difficult to remove). Fresh prunes reach the market earlier than fresh plums and are usually smaller in size.
One of the largest and best-known prune producers is Sunsweet Growers, headquartered in Yuba City, CA, who control more than 2/3 of the prune market worldwide. In the United States, an effort to rebrand "prunes" as "dried plums" began in 2000, to appeal to a younger market who associated prunes with elderly people. However, only some varieties of plum are called prunes when fresh or dried; others have always been called "dried plums" when dried.
In India, the prune is known by the Persian name or as Alu-Bukhara (literally fruit or potato of Bukhara).
Prunes are used in cooking both sweet and savory dishes. Stewed prunes, a compote
, are a dessert. Prunes are a frequent ingredient in North African tagines
. Perhaps the best-known gastronomic prunes are those of Agen
). Prunes are used frequently in Tzimmes
, a traditional Jewish
dish in which the principal ingredient is diced or sliced carrots; and in traditional Norwegian fruktsuppe.
Prune juice and its health benefits
Prune juice is made by softening prunes through steaming and then putting them through a pulper to create a watery puree. Prunes and their "juice" contain the natural laxative
dihydrophenylisatin (related to isatin
). Prunes also contain dietary fiber
(about 7%, or 0.7 g
per prune). Prunes and prune juice are thus common home remedies for constipation
. Prunes also have a high antioxidant content.
In popular culture