When dried, a fruit's flavor is deliciously concentrated into a convenient, tender-chewy and wonderfully portable little package. And especially when the fruits of summer have gone, dried fruits — a traditional winter staple — make welcome additions to your larder.
What we once knew as “prunes” are now officially called “dried plums,” according to the National Dried Plum Board successfully petitioned the FDA to rename the fruit to de-emphasize its connections to digestive regularity issues.
Plum trees were introduced to North America in 1856. They were first grown commercially by a Frenchman, wooed to California by the Gold Rush, who planted d’Agen plums. Any plum can be dried, but it’s the descendants of this variety that are used in 99% of today’s dried plum production, still centered in California. The d’Agen has a very high sugar content, firm flesh, and a small pit — all traits that make for a flavorful, meaty dried fruit.
How to store dried plums
Once opened, dried plums should be resealed tightly and stored in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. If they become desiccated, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of water over the fruit and seal the container; the fruit should plump up in a few hours.
Tips for using dried plums
Dried plums have an illustrious culinary history that dates back centuries in Northern European cuisine. They’re delicious in both sweet and savory recipes, and they’re perfect for the celebratory dishes of the holiday season.
To chop dried plums, lightly wipe your knife blade with vegetable oil to help prevent the fruit from sticking to it — or snip them with kitchen shears.