The Healing Pleasures of Prunes
Pity the prune
That misunderstood fruit
A prune is a plum
In an unpressed suit.
- Louis Phillips
Sweet, sticky, chewy and very very good for you: that’s the magic of a prune. Make this wonder fruit your plum choice for great health.
Prunes are basically fully ripened and dried plums.
Both plums and prunes were well known to the ancient Egyptians. They were found in the tombs at Thebes, and a Sumerian clay tablet (2150 BC) describes the use of prunes in some poultices. However it wasn’t until the 12th century, when Crusaders brought damson trees over to Europe from Syria, that prunes began to make their mark in the west.
By the early 16th century, plum orchards were flourishing throughout southwestern France and a while after the port of Agen gave its name to the dried fruit of the Ente plum – the famous D’Agen prune.
Today, California is the leading producer of prunes in the world.
Keep prunes in an airtight container in a cool place. To extend their shelf-life, put them in the fridge.
The prune’s list of health benefits is long and impressive:
- Loads of antioxidants that prevent free radical damage and protect you from aging.
- Endowed with vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, which has a well-documented role in combating all kinds of disease.
- They’ve got potassium, which heals the heart and keeps the blood pressure normal.
- Good for weight-watchers! The soluble fiber in prunes keeps you feeling fuller longer.
- The insoluble fiber in prunes nurtures the friendly bacteria in your intestines, thus getting the better of the ‘bad guys,’ i.e., germs and other agents of disease.
- A great boon for the constipated: the bulk in prunes helps maintain bowel regularity, which cuts your risk of colon cancer and hemorrhoids.
- Blessed with vitamin C, prunes help you absorb iron better.
8 Ways to Enjoy Prunes
Soak prunes in hot water to refresh and tenderize them.
Sprinkle chopped prunes into your porridge or oatmeal.
Pop them into your juicer to add flavor and nourishment to fresh juice.
Crumble them atop ice cream or fruit pies for a creative touch and a lovely sweetness.
Serve prunes over pancakes and waffles: delicious!
Prune Chutney: Grind a few prunes and whisk them with vinegar, salt and sugar to taste. You can stir in some white wine to add interest to the proceedings.
Stew prunes in red wine and serve with mascarpone.
Slit prunes and stuff with cottage cheese. Toss into your salads.
Life’s Little Peaches, Pears, Plums and Prunes Cookbook: 101 Fruit Recipes, by Joan Bestwick: this fruity treat of a cookbook is as delicious as its name. Get cooking some healthy salads, puddings and pies containing the goodness of prunes and more.
Pretty Up With Prunes
Try this rather unappetizing but very effective face mask. It works wonders on pimple-ridden skin: mix your porridge or oatmeal and prunes as you would for breakfast. Then take two spoons of it and mash them in a food processor. Apply all over face, and wash off after 10 minutes. The vitamins and minerals in prunes are excellent for enriching skin quality.