Here in the United States, prunes are usually thought of as a strange, mysterious fruit with posible gastro-intenstinal benefits. Lame. Not the case at all across the Atlantic. In Europe, they're revered as an awesome snack and with endless additional applications. We're talking everything from donut and pierogi filling, to juices and cocktails to being a subsitute for raisins and cranberries in just about any dish that calls for them. Lets get real here folks. European stuff is hot right now, whether it's French Cuisine, Italian briefcases or German cars.
If you want to impress your friends, you need to become a prune expert. We're going to help you make your own right now!
The first thing you need to know is that prunes come from dried plums, in the same way that raisins come from grapes. The nutrition is there, the water has just been removed. There's all kinds of plums out there, and they all can be dried as prunes. Having said that, French and Italian prune plums are some of the best out there. They've been cultivated with the end use of making prunes in mind.You can find them at most farmer's markets during summer, depending on your local climate. They look like grapes, except much bigger, and football shaped. Got it? Good. Your mission: make like Tom Brady, and deflate those plums! Here we go:
- Wash the plums and remove any stems.
- Using a plum pitter, remove the pits from the plums, and cut in half, or alternately, cut the plums in half and remove the pit from each one by hand.
- Take a half plum and using your thumb or a small spoon as a guide, flip it inside out! This will help them dry much, much faster, although it's still going to take a while.
- Load up your dehydrator, leaving space around each plum for air circulation.
- Go ahead and set it for 6 hours and turn the temperature to 135 degrees.
- Don't even bother checking those guys until 8 hours has passed.
- After 8 hours, start checking them. They're going to be gooey, almost like pecan pie filling. You want to get them dried out to the point that you can touch them without getting your fingers sticky. It's going to be a while. Just keep checking every six hours, until you get there.
- Once they are done drying, store them in a paper bag. Plastic bags will make them get sticky and lame. That's why raisins are sold in paper boxes or canisters.
- That's it. Now just impress all of your friends by dishing out giant raisins on your next hiking trip.