Are Plums And Prunes The Same Thing
As it turns out, prunes are just dried plums. However, not all plums are prunes. The prune fruit comes from a different type of plant other than plums. So yes, dried plums are called prunes; but not all plums are prunes.
When you’re shopping for fruits and vegetables in the grocery store, you’ll notice that there’s no such thing as “plum.” There is only one kind of plum tree (prunus dulcis), and its many varieties produce a diverse range of delicious foods with very specific characteristics.
Plums can be red or green, sweet or tart, soft or hard, small or large — depending on what variety they come from. In addition to their size and color, plums vary in taste, texture, acidity and sugar content. Some have an almost candy-like sweetness while others are quite sour. Most people don’t realize this until after purchasing them thinking they’ve gotten the wrong ones. It takes some time to develop the palate necessary to appreciate these subtleties.
Prunes are another story. They’re typically sold pre-dried in jars. When buying dried plums, it pays to read labels carefully. You may see the word “prune” instead of “plum,” which means they aren’t actually plums at all. These are dried versions of the European prunus dulcis species, also known as common pruning, Turkish or rock prunus. But they’re not true plums either because they’re not native to North America. Instead, they were introduced from Europe by the Portuguese during Spain’s colonial period in South America.
In fact, many countries now grow and export prune trees, including Israel, South Africa, Italy, India, Russia, Japan and China. Dried prunes are used primarily as snack food, although they do make tasty pies and jams.
So why does everyone call them “prunes”? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of the word was in 1790. Prior to that, the term referred to a person who cut down trees for wood, particularly oak. This could explain how the word got applied to dried fruit.
While most Americans associate dried plums with Christmas pudding, Italians eat them fresh throughout the year. In France, they are served at Easter along with lamb, and in Germany, they accompany sauerkraut soup.
If you’ve never had them before, you might think you’re getting something other than a plum when you buy them. After all, they look like little pits. Not so fast! If you take a closer look, you’ll discover that each pit contains three seeds. A seed pod is technically a collection of seeds inside a capsule, and if you crush or open up the shell, the individual seeds will fall right out. Seeds are found throughout the world, and even though they differ slightly in appearance, you can usually tell which country they came from by examining their shape. For example, acorn seeds are rounded with a flat top, whereas pea seeds feature a pointed tip.
You may wonder whether you should soak plums before eating them, since they appear to be pitted. To prevent browning and spoilage, however, you need to remove the stones first. Otherwise, they would become overripe and bitter.
The fleshy part of a plum can be eaten raw, cooked or juiced. In general, we prefer cooking our own fresh plums rather than consuming them raw. We recommend roasting whole plums at 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius) for about 20 minutes or slicing them thinly and baking them in the oven until tender. Roasted plums can then be chopped into pieces and added to salads or sandwiches. Freshly sliced plums can be made into jam, too.
Fresh plums are available year round, although they peak between August and October. Look for firm, shiny skin without bruises or blemishes. Avoid any plums with mold spots or mildew. Smaller plums are best for preserving or freezing. Larger plums are better for drying.
Next time you go to your local supermarket, try asking the butcher for some ripe, plump prunes. He or she might surprise you with some great suggestions for recipes.
Fruits and vegetables contain several types of sugars, including glucose, fructose and sucrose. Fructose has twice the caloric value per gram compared to table sugar. Therefore, if you want to lose weight, consume less sugar or choose low-sugar alternatives. Fruit juice may seem healthier, but remember that it doesn’t count as dietary fiber.
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