What are Prunes?
Prunes are simply dried plums. The French D’Agen is the ideal plum variety for drying because of its high levels of natural sugars, the thickness of its skin, it’s ability to absorb liquid after drying and its intense flavour.
A fresh plum ideal for drying is often called a ‘sugar plum’ in the Australian market.
A large majority Australian prunes are dried on the farms where they’re grown. Farmers pick them in late summer and early autumn, when the fruit has ripened and the sugar levels are just right. At that stage, the fruit is hanging like large purple grapes on the tree branch.
The crop is picked very quickly by mechanical shakers and immediately washed and dried overnight in large hot-air tunnels. These processing sheds are fast-paced, loud and hot environments, with a workforce on hand 24 hours a day. The picking and drying process is complete within 24 hours.
The fresh fruit will lose around two thirds of its moisture in the drying process, so three tonnes of freshly picked plums will make just one tonne of prunes. Once dried, the prunes can be stored for up to two years.
Prunes are proven to be a great source of antioxidants and health benefits. Not only do they improve a person’s vision, but also have many heart healthy benefits.