Friday, 8 January 2016

There are Prunes, and there are Prunes.




Everyone in the world has probably eaten those nasty dry cheap shrivelled Prunes that one finds in supermarkets; enough to put anyone off. I'm pleased to say that these are absolutely nothing like those.

I recently showed a Prune and Frangipane Tart made by Lady Magnon. In the TV programme that prompted her pre-Christmas baking frenzy, James Martin eulogised about our local Agen Prunes. He described them as the best in the world. All you bakers out there will find his 'Tart' recipe here.

Agen Prunes come in all sorts. Dried, semi dried, stuffed, stoned, un-stoned; you name it, they make it. The name is generic, not all Agen Prunes come exactly from Agen; but all are made in the area.

The ones above are made by Daniel Lamothe in a tiny village (Sauveterre la LĂ©mance) just 5 kilometres from us, and are reputed to be amongst the very best. They are dried in wood fired ovens on wooden slatted racks. They are soft, juicy, contain no chemicals, and are stunningly delicious.


Agen Prunes are made exclusively from the Prune d'ente plum, and are dried for around 24 hrs at between 70 and 80 degrees C. Traditionally this was done after bread making, when the ovens were cooling. Nowadays special dedicated ovens do the job, and the quality of the Prunes is much more controlled.

If you get the change to savour some semi-dried (mi-cuit) Pruneaux d'Agen; do so! You can also bung some in a jar and cover with gin or vodka..... even more delicious.

Some health benefits of Prune eating are as follows.

Could protect again certain Cancers
Could prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Lowers Cholesterol
Improves bone health, prevents Osteoporosis
Contains Vitamin K, and Beta Carotene
And, of course, they are a well known laxative.



46 comments:

  1. Haven't done it for years but for Christmas I always soaked prunes in rum - delicious. Those prunes look wonderful!

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    1. We use Eau-de-Vie, but it's not available everywhere.

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  2. I didn't know about the prevention of type 2 diabetes. By the way how did the check up go?

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    1. I seem to be fine, apart from a few excess Christmas kilos.

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  3. I have an aversion to prunes that is probably irrational but stems from school dinners where the tinned variety was served with semolina. Even the smell of the can being opened makes me gag. Note to self: Need exposure therapy for prunes. I'm sure your type are lovely!

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    1. I'd completely forgotten about tinned prunes; they were dreadful, even worse than those dried-up things that are sold in some supermarkets.

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    2. I have to disagree.....loved tinned prunes with semolina, rice pudiing, custard, porridge, cold Yorkshire pudding......and much much more!

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  4. Thank you for the link to the recipe, I want to try it. Here prunes are put in grandpa. I have learnt something new today - stoned or un stoned prunes and not, with or without pips. I didn't know they were dried in wood ovens either!
    Every morning before breakfast I take a handful of raisins, another handful of almonds, five dry prunes (no soaking needed they are moist) plus a banana. Greetings Maria x

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    1. Every morning I drink two teaspoons of Walnut Oil. This morning I also had two slices of toast; one with caviare, and one with red pesto.

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  5. ..sorry, that meant grappa and NOT Grandpa,hahaha!

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    1. I didn't Maria!
      I like any prunes, even the tinned ones.
      Gill

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    2. I like it as "grandpa" lol

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  6. Unfortunately I can only remember being given prunes for the last "benefit" on your list ! Probably the tinned variety, but can't remember - the whole episodes were just too traumatic to recall, other than not wanting to eat them, and having them forced down my throat ! So I've never touched them since, and still shudder when I see them in the supermarket. Our parent's generation have a lot to answer for !

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    1. If you ate one of the above you'd probably never stop!

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  7. We both come from prune loving families so have always enjoyed them. I suspect they were a cheap and easy pudding for our mums to put on the table in the 1950's. In those days mums were very keen on the "health benefits" of prunes and they were certainly preferable to cod liver oil!
    The tart looks delicious and I'll definitely be making that once we are back chez nous. Have you tried chocolate prune cake? That's delicious too.
    http://bakinginfranglais.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/chocolate-prune-cake.html

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    1. I actually like the taste of Cod Liver Oil.... I must be weird.

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  8. Too traumatised by earlier experiences with prunes to ever go back there!
    Arilx

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    1. I could make you like these... I'm sure!

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  9. Love them. We took packets of them back to the UK on our first tour of relatives and friends as 'thank yous' The stuffed ones still go to one friend every Christmas. Normally bought from Penne d'Agenais but next season we shall try from Duras.
    The chocolate covered ones are v. tasty! Lesley

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    1. I love the stuffed ones (in the blue packets). Those chocolate covered ones sound outrageous.

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  10. Love prunes wrapped in pancetta with goat's cheese. Bought some superb prunes from the St Caprais chestnut fair once, sadly the stall holder never turned up again in subsequent years.

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    1. There was an elderly man there this year selling Prunes; he was at V dy Pd too.

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  11. I have eaten prunes in Agen .... lovely. I can remember in the market, there were many stalls selling prunes and some were streets ahead of others. I buy soft, dried Agen prunes from Waitrose which are really nice and, I think that tinned prunes have improved since our schooldays. XXXX

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    1. The Plum tree I planted is a Prune type Plum, so I might try to make some myself next year.

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  12. We give the dried ones to Residents in the Home I work in. We were soaking them in Apple Juice and leaving them to soak in the Fridge but found they went off very quickly. We now soak them in water. The Residents love them. I would like to try the ones you mention. A neighbour goes to France a lot so I will ask him to try to get me some. Marion x

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    1. Ask him to get you the mi-cuit Agen Prunes; they're the best.

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  13. Shall look out for them. We love them if they have been soaked in brandy or rum overnight.
    And you can add another benefit to your list. Added to the word 'prisms' they are supposed to keep the mouth in good shape as one gets older aren't they?

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    1. Prunes and Prisms is something I hope to avoid; only time will tell.

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  14. I was thinking about buying some prunes, so will look out for Agen prunes. Very interesting post....

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    1. No shortage down your way, I imagine.

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  15. I imagine that some specialty food shops around NYC must carry this sort of prune, and have a made a note to keep an eye out.
    My childhood memories of prunes are not very fond, but my childhood was long ago, and I'm sure I was not presented with French prunes back then.

    Best wishes.

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    1. I imagine that most of yours would come from California.

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  16. I love prunes and these sound exceptional. I love sprouts too and yet seem to be the only person at work who does........

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    1. I love Sprouts too. We should start a club.

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  17. Ick. I am pretty sure I never bought a dried prune and don't think I will. I do like fresh prune plums though.

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    1. The Prunes above are simply a more delicious version of plums.

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  18. I hate prunes....plums and prune juice.......

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  19. Fascinating - that a post about prunes should produce such a number of comments!
    Prune clafoutis is lovely too, especially if you soak them in rum first!

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  20. One of the things I know about pruneaux is that the word prune is a faux amis. The other is that half a packet of rehydrated Agen prunes (I love pruneaux with a passion) eaten on a long car journey can be disastrous!

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