Chefs throughout the world have long used dried plums (prunes) in both sweet and savory dishes. They often use dried plums to balance other flavors in stews, meat entrées, stuffed pork loin, among other delicious fare. For years, dried plum purée has been used to improve the texture of baked goods, giving brownies, muffins and rolls a moist taste while reducing fat. This trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
The use of dried plums is exploding in interesting ways. Dried plums are being spotted on the menus of some of the trendiest restaurants in foodcentric cities across the country. At the quaint Gitane in San Francisco, Chef Jason Tuley stuffs dried plums with goat cheese and wraps them in prosciutto with a citrus gastrique and calls these appetizers, bonbons. New York City favorite Brooklyn Steak Co. uses prunes as a reduction sauce in its tongue-in-cheek dinner entrée to give it a sweet and sour taste. A hot spot out of Washington D.C., Russian restaurant Mari Vanna, offers a beet salad with walnuts and dried plums.
AQ, based in San Francisco, was named among the top new restaurants in 2012 by Bon Appétit magazine. They mix dried plums with red verjus and purée them with red wine vinegar, salt and Dijon mustard in its crudité appetizer, which has a unique taste and is a natural hit among finicky foodies in the Bay Area.
These innovative recipes being developed by chefs across the country, or even simpler fare with dried plums, can easily be replicated at home to enhance everyday cooking. Adding chopped dried plums to salads, oatmeal or Greek yogurt adds a dose of nutritional value and delicious taste to your meals. Creating a dried plum purée for baked items or spreads, serves as a natural fat replacement to reduce calories (one serving, four to five dried plums, are less than 100 calories) without losing flavor or texture. You might even agree that it improves it.
Beyond use as a culinary ingredient, registered dietitian nutritionists have long recommended dried plums as a nutrient-dense food to incorporate into meals and eat straight out of the package as a snack. Dried plums have solid research to support their well-rounded nutrition story. In fact, research suggests dried plums help support healthy bones, in addition to potentially reducing LDL cholesterol and promoting good digestive health.
Listen to our experts below and learn why California dried plums are The Whole Package and perhaps destined for the limelight as a star of the food world.
Dried plums can serve as a substitute for fats or sugars to reduce calories without losing flavor.
If your recipe calls for butter or oil as the fat source, you can reduce your fat by half and then add and replace what you have taken away with the same measurement of prune purée. Just remember to reduce your sugar by half in most recipes, since the prunes are naturally sweet.
Toss or add chopped dried plums in your favorite salad or on Greek yogurt or oatmeal for an extra nutritional boost.
Dried plums add moisture to meat entrées and baked goods and improve the texture and taste of stuffings, sauces, and marinades.
There are natural elements in dried plums which help heighten the flavors of other ingredients in a recipe, so use them as a flavor enhancer, whether it’s a dessert or something savory.