1 December 2019


Prunes, says dietitan Nicole Senior, are actually dried plums. This probably explains why they are low GI and such a rich source of nutrients and phytochemicals. Calling them dried plums also seems to make them sound so much more attractive, and goes some way to make up for their shortcomings in the looks department. The best plum for prunes is the sweet D’Agen variety, which reduce down to one third of their original moisture content when dried. While plums only last a couple of weeks or two fresh, drying makes them available year round. In these waste-conscious times it’s good to remember that drying fruit is an age-old method for preserving a bountiful and seasonal harvest. They are typically harvested and dried within 24 hours on the farms where they are grown.

Prunes are a good source of vitamins A and C, and contain potassium, calcium and iron. But they are most famous for their effect on the bowels. They get things moving due to their fibre and natural sorbitol content. Both whole prunes and prune juice have provided relief to those suffering from constipation for generations, and are the go-to natural cure recommended by just about everybody. Nowadays of course, we know they are high in FODMAPS (poorly digested carbohydrates) that have adverse effects for many people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), but this is a small detail in their otherwise glowing report card.

Prunes are more than their goody-two-shoes reputation: they taste delicious and are marvellously versatile. Traditionally served at breakfast as compote or on top of cereal, they offer so much more than a healthy start to the day. They are compact and travel well making them the perfect snack on-the-go, especially mixed with nuts and particularly those with bitter flavour notes like walnuts and pecans which provide good contrast to the rich sweetness of the prunes. Their sweetness and gooey texture are ideal for making uber-trendy bliss balls (or protein balls), and add richness to cakes, loaves and slices, and especially yummy when partnered with cocoa (see Good Carbs Kitchen). Their slightly tart sweetness and exotic colour make them sensational in crumbles, puddings and tarts. They work well in savoury dishes too and add contrasting sweetness to poultry stuffing, sauces for pork and game meats, tagines, chutneys and cheese platters.
AusFoods, 2019 and The Good Carbs Cookbook (Murdoch Books)