4 cups of prunes, with pits
1 small lemon, halved
3 tablespoons maple syrup (see Ann’s Tips)
4 cups water, or to cover
I used to hate prunes. Really hate them. They reminded me of bad school lunches. That was until I started to travel in Italy for work. In the restaurants, the dessert trolleys would trundle by after lunch laden with tarts, cakes, gelato and, surprisingly, large bowls of prunes. These didn’t look like school lunch so eventually I tried them. They were unexpected deliciousness in a light, lemony syrup and hate turned to love! Here they are for you in this stewed prunes recipe, with all the good for you fiber and vitamins that come with prunes.
1. Place the prunes and lemon half in a non-reactive pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle with the maple syrup and add enough water to just cover the fruit. Bring to a boil.
2. Cover and turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently for about 30 to 35 minutes, turning the prunes every so often, adding water if they look too dry. The liquid will be syrupy and the prunes will have softened and swelled up when ready.
3. Remove from the heat and let the prunes cool. Transfer to a container. They will keep refrigerated for up to a week, if they last that long! Eat them as is, or with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Ann's Tips and Tricks
Prunes are dried Italian plums. Some stores sell the extra large variety, which come from the large round black plums. They have a very different flavor from the usual smaller ones, and are not good for this simple dish. My favorites are the delicious prunes that come from Agen in South West France. Look for them in your specialty market. They are soft, shiny, sticky, and quick cooking, however they are more expensive than regular California prunes.
When buying prunes for stewing, always choose whole prunes instead of pitted. They will hold together better during cooking. If the prunes are tough, and look and feel more like giant raisins, soak them in hot water for an hour to plump them before cooking.
You can substitute brown sugar to taste for the maple syrup.
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