When we moved in here I noticed the tree beside the stable looked familiar to me, I thought maybe it was some kind of fruit tree? With the hustle and bustle of life I quickly forgot to go investigate the tree until one day last summer AJ randomly mentioned a prune tree on the farm.
Of course, I was all ears. I felt pretty foolish that we hadn’t realized it was there and given it some TLC in the spring. Even in its neglected state it was pretty dang productive.
I’ve lost tract of how many bowls of prunes we processed; many times more rotted or were fed to the chickens. We didn’t put two and two together until the crop was half done- meaning half on the ground- and the tree is tall so maybe a 1/3 of the fruit is almost impossible to pick even with a ladder and stick to knock it down.
I absolutely love Italian prunes. To me, prunes taste like the richest floral honey when perfectly ripe. Because of that amazing flavor and sweetness they are excellent dried.
We made lots of prune leather, my method for fruit leather can be found here. Believe it or not, that jar was cram-packed when we finished the season. As you can tell we really like prune leather.
We dried halved prunes, this is the dehydrator we have, its a little work horse! I don’t pre-treat anything I dry with anything, It’s unneccesary and if I’m going to consume sulfates its not going to be from my home dried fruit.
Drying is very simple. Wash and half the prune along the seam. Remove the pit making sure not to leave any pieces.
Some of prunes we processed had pits where the radical end was broke off, I’m not sure what that was from but it meant that we ended up with a lot of annoying pit fragments.
Then you fill your drier trays, cut side up turn it onto the appropriate temperature, its 135 F for the dehydrator we use. When prunes are dry they will still be relatively soft. They are so loaded with sugar they are shelf stable when more pliable than most other fruit.
It takes around 24 hours for them to dry fully *it can take way longer or way shorter depending on all sorts of variables*. When you think they are dry enough remove the thickest peice from each tray and let them fully cool. If it feels cool, moist or squishy you know it still has too much moisture and the prunes need to dry longer. Also, tearing the piece in half can be helpful. In my opinion, this way is harder to use and less useful then feeling for moisture in general. By all means still tear them in half, I do but I rely more on my sense of touch than sight.
It’s also a good idea to organize your trays so they all have halves of a similar size, that way a whole tray will finish drying at close to the same time. Otherwise you will find yourself having to sort through all the trays to remove the different sizes as they dry -ahem- not that I have ever had to do that.
And finally we made prune preserves. Its the same method as you will find on my blackberry preserved post but it’s more like pear or apple butter in texture. The only difference is that you need to puree the prunes before you start cooking them.
So, there you have it, that’s how we preserve prunes!
This post is participating in the Homestead Barn and Real Food Wednesday, Healthy Tuesday, From The Farm, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways and HomeAcre Hops, check them out to find other great blogs like ours!