Friday, September 23, 2011

Plums and Prunes

The other day, while chatting with my good friend Ed (an organic grower), the topic turned to plums and prunes. Ed said, "a plum is not a prune"

Me: Wait- what?
Ed: A plum is not -necessarily- a prune.
Me: But aren't prunes just dried plums?
Ed: It can be. But a prune is a specific variety of plum.

Who knew? I thought a prune was the dried version of a plum, just like a raisin is the dried version of a grape.

I also thought that the reason we are seeing more dried fruits labeled as "dried plums" instead of "prunes" was entirely a marketing gimmick. You can read more about the re-branding of prunes here, and here.

After the conversation with Ed, I wondered what a fresh prune looked like, and if I'd ever see one.

About a week later, Joan and I were at Costco, and guess what? Fresh prunes:
Here is what one looked like at home, next to a plum:
Check it out! They are different.

Here is what the prune looks like inside:
I'm sure there are different varieties of prunes, and they probably are not all this exact size or color. This one is an "Italian Prune"- but grown in the USA- ha. (the more I learn about food, the more I realize names and labels don't mean much, if anything. Labels are designed for marketing, not information). 
Italian prune. Image source.

So- in Ed's words: "all prunes are plums, but not all plums are prunes." I feel like I need a Venn diagram for that.

OK, I am a total geek : )

For more about plums and prunes:
A discussion on Chowhound about Italian Prune dessert recipes
An article on theKitchn about in-season Italian Prunes.
A beautiful photo and recipe for a Double Plum Tart. It is a traditional recipe, but could easily be adapted and made allergy-friendly.
Happy Healthy Librarian just posted What Ten Dried Plums (Prunes) a Day Can Do for Your Bones, summarizing a recently published study on prunes and bone density.
World's Healthiest Foods nutritional information on Prunes and Plums

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