Poached Prunes: Deceptively Simple, Totally Delicious

stewed prunes with orange zest

Prunes are nature’s most unhip fruits. Perceived as dry and wrinkly, they elicit snickers and jokes about old people and regularity. But cast the bad reputation aside, and you’ll see that they’re unsung jewels. Sweet as candy, they’re also packed with fiber and vitamin A. They’re not leathery either; prunes are some of the moistest, softest dried fruits around.

Stewed fruits are such common low-fat desserts that I forget how good they are. In this week’s L.A. Times, David Lebovitz provided a recipe for tea-poached prunes with citrus. It’s deceptively simple (just boil prunes in sugar-water for 10 minutes), but the flavors are complex: the rich, plump prunes are brightened up with just-tart enough oranges.

You can eat these by themselves, but they’re a wonderful backdrop for creamed cottage cheese ice cream; plain frozen yogurt; homemade ricotta cheese; or fresh, puréed tofu, above. (If you have a soy milk machine, making tofu is simple. You don’t need to buy a tofu mold or any mysterious chemicals. While the milk is still hot, just stir in a small amount of Epsom salt [which you can get in a drug store] or lemon juice, and drain in a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Epsom salt produces a softer tofu, and lemon juice a tangier one, but they’re more accessible than magnesium chloride, the best coagulant.)

Tea-Poached Prunes with Fresh Orange Segments

Adapted from David Lebovitz‘s recipe in the L.A. Times

Active time: 15 min
Start to finish: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

2-3 tablespoons sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
1 strip of lemon or orange zest, about 1/2-inch wide and 2 to 3 inches long
2 bags of Earl Grey or any black tea, tags removed
20 to 25 prunes

Accompaniments: Fresh orange segments; creamed cottage cheese ice cream, plain frozen yogurt, homemade ricotta cheese, or puréed tofu

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, zest and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Add the tea bags and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the prunes and continue to gently simmer for about 10 minutes, or until they’re tender. If the prunes are large or especially dry, they make take longer. If necessary, add a bit more water to keep them covered.

Once the prunes are tender, remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Remove the tea bags and gently squeeze them to extract additional flavor before discarding them.

Serve with oranges and the snowy white “cream” of your choice.

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4 Comments »

  1. jen of a2eatwrite said,

    I love prunes. And this looks like a wonderful recipe – thanks for sharing!

    April 20, 2008 at 6:27 pm

  2. Katie said,

    I love prine and don’t understnad thier bad image. Wouldn’t never have thought of soaking them in tea – brilliant idea.

    April 21, 2008 at 12:49 am

  3. Nick said,

    Sounds great, I love the tea addition. Earl grey is actually my all time favorite tea and one of the only ones I drink. Also, thanks for reminding me about those posts for cottage cheese ice cream and homemade ricotta, I forgot about those!

    The Peanut Butter Boy

    April 21, 2008 at 1:42 am

  4. niko said,

    So cool of you to feature prunes in a favorable light. I love prunes but am very closeted about it. They are truly one of the most healthy foods you can eat.

    May 1, 2008 at 9:38 am

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