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 Lémance) 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
Improves bone health, prevents Osteoporosis
Contains Vitamin K, and Beta Carotene
And, of course, they are a well known laxative.